A. J. Raffles
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
A.J. (Arthur J.) Raffles is a character created in the 1890s by E. W. Hornung, a brother-in-law to Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes. Raffles is, in many ways, a deliberate inversion of Holmes — he is a "gentleman thief," living in The Albany, a very upscale address in London, playing cricket for the Gentlemen of England and supporting himself by carrying out ingenious burglaries. He is called the "Amateur Cracksman," and often, at first, differentiates between himself and the "professors" — professional criminals from the lower classes.
As Holmes has Dr. Watson to chronicle his adventures, Raffles has Harry "Bunny" Manders — a former schoolmate saved from disgrace and suicide by Raffles, who persuaded him to accompany him on a burglary. While Raffles often takes advantage of Manders' relative innocence, and sometimes treats him with a certain amount of contempt, he knows that Manders' bravery and loyalty are utterly to be relied on. In several stories, Manders saves the day for the two of them after Raffles gets into situations he cannot get out of on his own.
One of the things that Raffles has in common with Holmes is a mastery of disguise — during his days as an ostensible man-about-town, he maintains a studio apartment in another name in which he keeps the components of various disguises, and he can imitate the regional speech of many parts of Britain flawlessly, despite his lack of skill at foreign languages.