Sir Henry Merrivale
|Sir Henry Merrivale|
|First appearance||The Plague Court Murders|
|Last appearance||Merrivale, March and Murder|
|Created by||John Dickson Carr|
|Nicknames||The Old Man, H. M., The Maestro|
Sir Henry Merrivale is a fictional detective created by "Carter Dickson", a pen name of John Dickson Carr (1906–1977). Also known as "the Old Man," by his initials "H. M." (a pun on "His Majesty"), or "the Maestro", he appeared in twenty-two locked room mysteries and "impossible crime" novels of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, as well as in two short stories.
He began as a fairly serious character but became more and more comical, at times even grotesque, as the series went on. When first introduced as a character, he was already an older man nearing retirement, and in the novel "And So to Murder," set in late 1939, he referred to himself as being almost 70. In "Seeing is Believing" while dictating his memoirs, he gives his date of birth as February 6, 1871, but his age became more ambiguous in subsequent novels.
He is a baronet and a barrister – in The Judas Window he actually appears for the defence in court in a murder case – and holds a medical degree. Besides these qualifications, he has a number of other talents, including stage magic, disguise and a vast knowledge of the history of crime.
Merrivale occasionally mentions his family -- a wife, two daughters and (late in the series) two sons-in-law. With his characteristically comic gruffness, he is inclined to complain about the trouble they give him. But none of them appear as characters in any of the books or stories.
In other media
In Anthony Shaffer's play Sleuth, mystery writer Andrew Wyke's most famous character is an aristocratic detective named St. John, Lord Merridew. This character was inspired by Sir Henry Merrivale, and the character of Wyke was inspired by Carr:
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