Cyril McNeile

(1888-1937) - 'Bulldog Drummond' creator

McNeile was born at St Leonards Bodmin and served in the Royal Engineers. He started writing war novels under the pseudonym ‘Sapper’ while in the army in 1916, and later created the character Bulldog Drummond, the hero of 17 novels and over 20 films, stage plays and radio programmes.

Credit: Bodmin Town Museum

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Lt.Col. Herman Cyril McNeile, M.C., creator of the fictional character Bulldog Drummond, was born at St Leonards, Bodmin and educated at Cheltenham College and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. He served from 1907 to 1919 in the Royal Engineers, reaching the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and was awarded the Military Cross during the First World War.

McNeile started writing war novels while still in the Army. As a serving officer he was not allowed to use his own name so he published under the pen name ‘Sapper’ and wrote his first war novel in 1916. In 1920 'Bulldog Drummond’ made his debut in a book sub-titled, The Adventures of a Demobilized Officer Who Found Peace Dull. Captain Hugh Drummond, better known as Bulldog, was the hero of seventeen novels and more than twenty films, stage plays and radio programmes. Sapper invested his hero with daring, wit, ingenuity, and the ability to turn out on the right side of the law in the long run.

The death of McNeile in 1937 did not mean the end of Bulldog Drummond. The pseudonym Sapper was adopted by Gerald Fairlie, but finally disappeared, as fashions changed, in the 1950s with the arrival of James Bond and The Saint. 

Credit: Bodmin Town Museum