One of the books in Ireland’s possession was The Amateur Cracksman, a collection of short stories by E.W. Hornung. Ernest William Hornung (1866–1921) was an English author and poet remembered almost exclusively for his creation of the suave criminal character Raffles, based partly on Oscar Wilde. Hornung’s son was killed in Ypres in 1915, after which tragedy he turned to writing poetry and undertaking war work.
The Amateur Cracksman was based in Victorian England, featuring the central character of A.J. Raffles, a gentleman thief . First published in 1899, there were further collections of stories and numerous reprints – Ireland’s version dates from 1956. There were also several instances of its transference to screen, including a 1939 film version starring David Niven (below). Ireland may even have seen this as he was a regular cinema-goer. The book can be read HERE.