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DUCKWORTH DREW

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Full Name: Duckworth Drew
Nationality: British
Organization: Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
Occupation Agent

Creator: William Le Queux
Time Span: 1903 - 1973

ABOUT THE SERIES

       Duckworth Drew is an agent with the British Foreign Office.
       That is what is said in the title of the compilations of adventures but a subtitle clearly refers to Drew as being of the Secret Service. He, though, talks of himself as a "diplomatic freelance". That term is quite interesting for it implies that Drew works for various people with allegiance to none but it is quite clear from his tales that he is totally aligned with "the Most Noble the Marquis of Macclesfield, Her Majesty‚Äôs Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs".
       The missions that make of the recorded life of Drew center around the rapidly growing tensions between the Triple Alliance (German, Austria-Hungary, and Italy) and the Triple Entente (England, France, and Russia) aka the Allies. At least they talk at the beginning like they do but it is clearly established as the tales progress that England has many allies but no friends and those allies are transitory at best.
       Russia is a valued collaborator in the struggle to curtail German aggression and yet Drew shows more than once that Russia cannot be trusted. France is vital in the defense of the U.K., being a physical buffer to German troops but France is fickle and can never be counted on should chips actually need playing. And Germany is the embodiment of danger and threat to the British realm except when it can be used to keep Russia occupied from expanding its empire. Such are the diplomatic threads that are constantly pulled and weaved in the world inhabited by Drew and he is a master at both.
       He is indeed a master and you would have to do nothing more than listen to him expound on his numerous triumphs to know that his work has kept the King and Country safe time and again. He on more than one occasion will talk elegantly and at length at how Macclesfield, apparently a normally stern and unforgiving taskmaster, has lauded him with so much praise that Drew is humbled and embarrassed. Mind you, this all comes from the pen of Drew as the tales are told through his eyes.
       When Drew is not on the Continent gleaming yet another morsel of vital intelligence, he resides in a a set of "comfortable rooms" on Guilford Street in London, tended there by his loyal and able valet, Boyd. That gentleman's gentleman will accompany Drew on several excursions but does not play a part except to make sure that his apparel is appropriate and pressed.
       When Drew is at work, he has many identities on which to rely, several being a citizen of France which he can pull off perfectly because he indeed does own dual citizenship with England and France having an English father and a French mother. He is completely at ease in France or in play a Frenchman's part and I got the impression he even owns a home somewhere near Paris [conjecture]. Another extremely important and valuable asset Drew possesses is a gift of languages as he is at home with German and Russian, among others, as he is with English and French.
       Drew does not have a steady female companion nor anyone missing him back home because the life of an agent is all-consuming. That does not mean he does not have an eye for a lovely lady or a smooth patter when talking with them. He is quite a lady's man, from the implications, but being a true gentleman, he does not go into any details that might be inappropriate.
       Though Drew is very familiar with a hand gun and quite able to defend himself in a physical fight, knocking out opponents with a single blow, he also has the use of some innovative objects. He has a pin that once puncturing a person's skin will instantly put them out for a good while. He has been known to drug a man with a loaded cigar. He has other tricks as well which are fun to uncover. Indeed, Drew is a man far ahead of his time with such tactics.
       All told, Drew is a man's man and a credit to shadowy world of the secret agent, a task not meant for normal people, one that seldom is appreciated but is always in demand.

NOVELLAS AND SHORT STORIES

Number of Stories:14
First Appearance:1903
Last Appearance:1903

1 The Secret Of Dr. Vaux's Intrigue The Secret Of Dr. Vaux's Intrigue
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1903

1st adventure in the collection Secrets of the Foreign Office. The date is March 1900. Though France and Russia were said to be friends of England, the rumors were flying that they would try to take advantage of England's troubles in South Africa. It was the task of Duckworth Drew to learn what he can and he does so with the aid of a drugged cigar.
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2 The Secret Of The Black Bag The Secret Of The Black Bag
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1903

2nd adventure in the collection Secrets of the Foreign Office. Summoned by three major players in the British government, Duckworth Drew is asked to procure the plans for a revolutionary rifle being prepared for France by an inventor in southern Belgium.
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3 The Secret Of The Princess's Love Affair The Secret Of The Princess's Love Affair
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1903

3rd adventure in the collection Secrets of the Foreign Office. British Princess 'Edna' (not her real name) of England has disappeared while attending a ball in the German capital. She was wearing a necklace from the Crown Jewels and three of its stones were recently offered for sale in Amsterdam. Duckworth Drew is sent to locate the missing royalty who was either kidnapped or on a romantic escapade.
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4 The Secret Of The Little Countess The Secret Of The Little Countess
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1903

4th adventure in the collection Secrets of the Foreign Office. Duckworth Drew is in Rome he meets a friend in the Italian army who introduces him to a very pretty young girl, a countess from Verona. He becomes intrigued when at a formal state dinner he sees the same woman and learns she is really the wife of a prominent French official. He becomes certain she is a spy but for whom against whom?
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5 The Secret Of The Redwitz Plot The Secret Of The Redwitz Plot
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1903

5th adventure in the collection Secrets of the Foreign Office. England is certain that Russia is about to sign a pact with Germany that will allow the latter to expand as it wants while letting the former move into Afghanistan where the British currently are. Duckworth Drew is sent to get a copy of any such treaty and to scuttle the agreement.
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6 The Secret Of The Submarine Boat The Secret Of The Submarine Boat
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1903

6th adventure in the collection Secrets of the Foreign Office. In a time when many nations had given up on the idea of submarines as a viable weapon, France releases a report indicating they had solved the problems and had a working one. Duckworth Drew is ordered to find the truth and get some plans.
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7 The Secret Of The Fashoda Settlement The Secret Of The Fashoda Settlement
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1903

7th adventure in the collection Secrets of the Foreign Office. The Fashoda Settlement issue was a major event [look it up; I had to] which almost brought England and France to war at the turn of the century. This is how Duckworth Drew held keep the peace.
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8 The Secret Of The Smoked Spectacles The Secret Of The Smoked Spectacles
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1903

8th adventure in the collection Secrets of the Foreign Office. A chance meeting and befriending with a mysterious German while in Southern France turns extremely fortuitous two years later when Duckwork Drew is captured as a spy in Russia. Certain to spend the rest of his life in Siberia, he is astonished when the German obtains him release to return to England. Things get stranger still.
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9 The Secret Of Colonel Holtz's Disappearance The Secret Of Colonel Holtz's Disappearance
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1903

9th adventure in the collection Secrets of the Foreign Office. We learn of Duckworth Drew's surprising audience with the Kaiser and his request for Drew to help obtain secret plans between England and Germany against France. We also meet the first woman to have ever controlled Drew's heart and see how a favor she asks of him has an explosive result, nearly stopping his heart for good.
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10 The Secret Of A Pair Of Gloves The Secret Of A Pair Of Gloves
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1903

10th adventure in the collection Secrets of the Foreign Office. Marya is another of the women in Duckworth Drew's life for whom he has pledged eternal love but she, despite being quite taken with him and very giving of her time, refuses to say how she feels. She carries inside her a burning hatred for Tsar Alexander and a plan to bring him down.
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11 The Secret Of The Gentleman From Paris The Secret Of The Gentleman From Paris
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1903

11th adventure in the collection Secrets of the Foreign Office. A vital dispatch needed couriering from Whitehall to Italy and Captain MacDonald was chosen for the job because he was so dependable. Odd, then, that Duckworth Drew was also sent, secretly, to monitor MacDonald's trip and how he was preyed upon but a pair of French spies, and yet Drew did nothing to stop it.
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12 The Secret Of The Fox Hunter The Secret Of The Fox Hunter
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1903

12th adventure in the collection Secrets of the Foreign Office. Enjoying the pleasures of the fox hunt, Duckworth Drew is also attracted to the lovely but aloof Beatrice. When he sees her talking in secret with a known German spymaster, he is more intrigued. When he tracks her to a late night rendezvous and she turns up dead, he is relentless.
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13 The Secret Of Lieutenant Villar The Secret Of Lieutenant Villar
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1903

13th adventure in the collection Secrets of the Foreign Office. A notorious English turncoat named Franklin once tried to sell vital secrets to Duckworth Drew but Drew had not believed him. He learned to regret that decision and now having gotten a glimpse on the man using an alias back in the U.K. Drew is determined to bring him to justice - after learning what his latest plot is.
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14 The Secret Of A Spy In London The Secret Of A Spy In London
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1903

14th adventure in the collection Secrets of the Foreign Office. The entire Cabinet joins the Prime Minister is asking for Duckworth Drew's help in finding out how the governments of South Africa and Russia both know England's most recent plans for the Boer War hours after they have been decided.
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TELEVISION


Number of Episodes:1
First Appearance:1973
Last Appearance:1973
Network:BBC

REGULAR CAST
1 The Secret of the Fox Hunter
Episode 2-10, first aired 02/03/1973
Guest Star: Derek Jacobi as William Drew

The tenth episode of the second season of The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes presented a dramatization of the 12th short story of Duckworth Drew. The main character's name has been changed to William Drew as he follows the secret arrival into England of the head of German Intelligence to do some fox hunting.

MY COMMENTS

       I first read some scathing rebukes of William Le Queux's writing (well, his basic bellicose leanings) so I delayed reading Duckworth Drew for some time. That and, to me, the natural expectations of some long-billed foul anthropomorphized as a cloak-wearing secret agent, based on the name. Then I chose to read his later character, Hugh Morrice, written about a decade later and I was surprised. The character was a tad full of himself but the stories were interesting and well penned.
       So, finally, I forced myself to check out Mr. Drew and my pleasure was still there.
       Drew is also full of himself but he is just as interesting as Morrice was. In fact, if someone gave me a snippet from either character's adventures and asked me to identify the spy, I would not have a clue. The same does not go quite as much for yet another of his characters I am about to write about, Claud Heathwaite, or for his Gerry Sant, both who came some time later after the author had perfected his craft.
       But Drew was his first real excursion into the "Diplomatic Freelance" business (his words) and so it is most interesting. The prose is a tad flowery but the characters were interesting and varied and the plots were well developed.
       The most interesting thing I found was the long periods of time he supposedly spent on each assignment. We are not talking days or even weeks but sometimes a few months just establishing a cover at a new location. It made me wonder what the fellow was doing all those many, many days. And it also struck me as interesting the way that his boss would tell him of the urgency in a particular mission, Drew would readily grasp the severity, and then write that he spent the next couple of months making himself known at some seaside villa. Drew and I have different concepts of urgent.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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