STELLA STEELE

 
Full Name: Stella Steele
Nationality: British
Organization: Secret Service
Occupation Agent

Creator: William Le Queux
Time Span: 1917 - 1917
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Stella Steele is an agent with British Intelligence.
       She is not an official one and she most definitely would not have been acknowledged as such should it come up but she works on their behalf nevertheless and what she works on is her father.
       When we meet her, she is around twenty-two years old and is described as having "a sweet, eminently English-looking face" with a "fair" complexion. To much of England and certain most of the theatre-going public in London, she is known as Stella Steele, the famous entertainer "whose picture postcards were everywhere". To her doting father, Theodore Drost, though, she was simply Ella.
       Though he saw only his little girl, he had indulged her "childish aptitude" when she was younger and allowed her to pursue her passion. She soon became "a dancer on the lowest level of the variety stage, a touring company which visited fifth-rate towns. Yet, owing to her discovered talent, she had at last graduated through the hard school of the Lancashire "halls", to what is known as the "syndicate halls" of London. It is further stated in the first adventure that "From a demure child-dancer at an obscure music-hall in the outer suburbs, she had become a noted revue artiste, a splendid dancer, who commanded the services of her own press-agent, who in turn commanded half-a-dozen lines in most of the London morning papers, both her prestige and increased salary following in consequence."
       When she is not entertaining the crowds in the theaters, though, she is often seen around her father and his friends. Daddy, Theodore Drost is described and thought of as a "grey-haired Dutch pastor." A man "with a curiously triangular face, a big square forehead, with tight-drawn skin and scanty hair, and broad heavy features which tapered down to a narrow chin that ended in a pointed, grey, and rather scraggy beard". Though he was believed by most to be Dutch, he was in fact very much German, Prussian to be specific, and living undercover in London while spying on England for Germany. More dangerously, he was, at the time of the adventures, about to take a much bigger role in the war, moving from agent to agent-provacateur. In modern parlance, a terrorist. Helping greatly in this nefarious endeavour is the fact that for many years Drost had been a professor of Chemistry and that makes bomb making an easy task.
       To Drost's friends, Ella/Stella was a danger. She listened too carefully and watched too closely what her father and they were up to and she was known to spend time around an Englishman they suspected of spying on them. Daddy was blind to the possibility of her working against him for she was "too good a daughter of the Fatherland". He was very much wrong for he thought her allegiance, like his, was to Germany but her mother had been English and she had been raised largely in the United Kingdom especially after Drost was sent as a sleeper agent by the Kaiser more than a decade before. She was in heart and mind British and never once considered going along with her father.
       Chief among those highly suspecting of Ella, though, is Count Ernst von Ortmann, "a trusted official in the entourage of the Kaiser, and having lived his early life in England, being educated at Oxford, he was now entrusted with the delicate task of directing the advance guard of the German army in [England]." Several times, just before each mission which would be thawrted by Stella and her boyfriend, Seymour Kennedy, an officer in the Royal Navy and part of the intelligence community, von Ortmann would issue stern warnings about them both to Drost but each time they fell on loving but naive ears.

BOOKS

Number of Books:1
First Appearance:1917
Last Appearance:1917

1 The Bomb-Makers The Bomb-Makers
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1917

Subtitled Being some Curious Records concerning the Craft and Cunning of Theodore Drost, an enemy alien in London, together with certain Revelations regarding his daughter Ella. Contains a half-dozen escapades of Drost the terrorist bomber and the work against him by his daughter, working with the British Secret Service. The stories are:
The Devil's Dice,
The Great Tunnel Plot,
The Hyde Park Plot,
The Explosive Needle,
The Brass Triangle,
The Silent Death

NOVELLAS AND SHORT STORIES

Number of Stories:6
First Appearance:1917
Last Appearance:1917

The six tales of Theodore Drost and how his English daughter, Ella, stage-named Stella Steele, were all contained in a single volume.

1 The Devil's Dice The Devil's Dice
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1917

1st of 6 stories in The Bomb-Makers - The tale relates how Theodore Drost and the rather loathsome Ernst Ortmann planned to blow up the HMS Oakham and how Stella Steele thwarted their efforts.

2 The Great Tunnel Plot The Great Tunnel Plot
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1917

2nd of 6 stories in The Bomb-Makers - The great "G-- Tunnel", apparently an important tunnel in England through which supply trains run frequently, is the goal of Theodore Drost and Stella Steele works with her lover to stop him.

3 The Hyde Park Plot The Hyde Park Plot
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1917

3rd of 6 stories in The Bomb-Makers - A major member of the British Cabinet and possible future Prime Minister is giving a major speech in Hyde Park. Theodore Drost and company are planning to make a statement by blowing him up.

4 The Explosive Needle The Explosive Needle
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1917

4th of 6 stories in The Bomb-Makers - An inexpensive urn, a needle, and an extremely deadly gas make up a present created by Theodore Drost for another attempt at the Cabinet Minister he failed to have killed in the previous attack. Once again Stella Steele learns enough to alert her beau to save the official.

5 The Brass Triangle The Brass Triangle
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1917

5th of 6 stories in The Bomb-Makers -

6 The Silent Death The Silent Death
Written by William Le Queux
Copyright: 1917

6th of 6 stories in The Bomb-Makers -

MY COMMENTS

       I had to chuckle over my minor quandary as to which person to make the "star" of this series; Ella Drost, stage-named Stella Steele, or her terrorist father, Theodore Drost. The few places I see the series of short stories mentioned, it is pére Drost who gets the attention but since I lean towards the good guys and gals, my heart went in Ella's direction. Then the question of how to name her - as Ella or as Stella - came up. Boy, what goofy problems I make for myself.
       I chose Stella because her story was, to me, a much more interesting one. Daddy was a bad guy doing bad things in her adopted land on behalf of a foreign king very much out of favor in her new home. She was someone with a conscience but since that meant going up against people so willing to kill innocents, she knew well what they'd do to a snitch.
       Le Queux was an author quite known for his bombastic rhetoric and for his immense antipathy towards Germany. He had for a couple decades before this collection came to print railed against the threat of imminent invasion by that country of England or at least a nasty war. When this book came out, the Great War had already been going for a couple of years and Le Queux was now crying foul over the spies in the land out to attack from within.
       I especially loved a comment by the author regarding press agents and how they can be so effective, stating "Oh what sheep we are, and how easily we are led astray!" Considering this was penned in 1917, nearly a hundred years before the advent of social media. As the saying goes, "the more things change ...."

GRADE

My Grade: C

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