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Albert Campion is a fictional character in a series of detective novels and short stories by Margery Allingham. He first appeared as a supporting character in "The Crime at Black Dudley" (1929), an adventure story involving a ring of criminals, and would go on to feature in another 17 novels and over 20 short stories. Supposedly created as a parody of Dorothy L. Sayers' detective Lord Peter Wimsey, Campion established his own identity, and matured and developed as the series progressed. After Allingham's death her husband Philip Youngman Carter completed her last Campion book and wrote two more before his own death.
Albert Campion is a pseudonym used by a man who was born in 1900 into a prominent British aristocratic family. Early novels hint that he was part of the royal family but this suggestion is dropped in later works. He was educated at Rugby School and the (fictitious) St. Ignatius' College, Cambridge (according to a mini-biography included in "Sweet Danger"). Ingenious, resourceful and well-educated, in his 20's he assumed the name Campion and began a life as an adventurer and detective.
The name "Campion" may have its origin in the Old French word for "champion". Another source says the name was suggested by Allingham's husband Philip Youngman Carter, and may allude to the Jesuit martyr St. Edmund Campion. Carter and St. Edmund Campion were both graduates of Christ's Hospital school. Campion's fictional college, St. Ignatius, supports the Edmund Campion connection, since St. Ignatius of Loyola was the founder of the Jesuits.
'Albert Campion' is revealed early on to be a pseudonym. In "Mystery Mile", his true first name is said to be Rudolph, while his surname begins with a K. In "The Fashion in Shrouds" he also mentions his first name being Rudolph but confides he changed it asking people to call him Albert as he didn't like the name Rudolph.
Campion has used many other names in the course of his career. "Mornington Dove" (although in the 1988 Avon edition (page 72) of "The Black Dudley Murder" he is called "Mornington Dodd") and "the Honourable Tootles Ash" are mentioned in "The Crime at Black Dudley"; "Christopher Twelvetrees" and "Orlando" are mentioned in "Look to the Lady".
Allingham makes various references to Campion's aristocratic background, and hints at a connection to royalty in several asides. A study of the books suggests his father was a Viscount, and was already dead at the start of the series. Campion's mother is mentioned several times and writes a letter in "The Fashion in Shrouds", and Campion borrows a car from his older brother (apparently the current holder of the title) in "Mystery Mile", but neither of them appear in person. In "Sweet Danger" it was mentioned that his brother was "still unmarried" and therefore Campion is likely to "come into the title some day" although there is no suggestion in the books that this actually occurs.
His sister Valentine Ferris plays a central part in "The Fashion in Shrouds"; in that book, it is revealed that they are both estranged from most of their family. In "Police at the Funeral", the venerable Caroline Faraday is aware of his true identity, and knows his grandmother Emily (who she refers to as "The Dowager") - she calls him by his real name of "Rudolph" and states at one point that the rest of his family blame Emily for encouraging Campion in his adventurous ways.
Albert Campion is mentioned at the Wold Newton site (links to the left, adventurists!)