Simon TemplarSimon Templar is a fictional character in a series of books by Leslie Charteris. He is also known as "The Saint" due to his initials. He sometimes uses the nom de guerre Sebastian Tombs and also calls himself by sundry other names, all with the initials S.T., such as Sullivan Titwillow and Sugarman Treacle - the Saint has a boyish sense of humour. He frequently leaves a 'calling card' at the scenes of his 'crimes', consisting of a stick drawing of a man with a halo.
Simon Templar started his career as a criminal, and burglary is often alluded to in the books. It is clear from the texts, however, that at the time of the books, all of his income derives from the pockets of the 'ungodly' (as he terms those who live by a less moral code than his own). There are several references to a 'ten percent collection fee' as he extracts large sums of money from his victims, the remainder being returned to its owners or given away. These unworthies include bent politicians, warmongers, indeed all the nastier forms of low life. "He claims he's a Robin Hood," bleats one of his victims, "but to me he's just a robbing hood."
The Saint has many partners in his escapades in the books, though none that lasted throughout the series. In the early books the most frequently recurring was Patricia Holm. Inspector Claude Eustace Teal could often by found attempting to put the Saint behind bars, although in the later books they can be found working in partnership.
The time period of the books begins in the 1920s and moves through the 1930s and 1940s quite recognisably as the series of about 45 books by Charteris progresses. In the early books most of the Saint's activities are clearly illegal (though directed at much worse characters). In the later books this becomes less true. In the books written during the period of WW2, The Saint (in common with many fictional maverick heroes) was recruited by the government to help with the war effort by tracking down spies and similar undercover work. The quality of writing also changes; early books have a freshness of spirit which becomes replaced to an extent by an air of cynicism in the later works. The most recent spate of books to appear are pale trashy imitations of the original, and seem to have been house-written by others, following the death of Charteris in 1993.
The character appeared in a long-running television show The Saint (1962), played by Roger Moore. Since then there have been several other actors who played him in less successful TV series, most notably Return of the Saint (1978) starring Ian Ogilvy (who outdid Moore in his interpretation of the Saint, in the view of some fans). A film with Val Kilmer in the title role was also made, but diverged far from the Charteris books.