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Nelson Lee and St. Frank's School

Boy's Friend Library

Boys Realm

The Gem serial

Greyfriars Holiday Annual

Monster Library

Nelson Lee Library:

1st or 'Old' Series

2nd or 'New' Series

3rd Series

4th Series

Nugget 3d Library

Nugget Weekly

Popular (2nd series)

Schoolboys Own Library

Nelson Lee was a famous detective originally created by Maxwell Scott and first appeared in the tale "A Dead Man's Secret" in the Marvel on the 19th Sept, 1894. He featured in a range of detective adventures in The Marvel, Union Jack, Pluck, and a range of other boys' papers. He then featured in the Boy’s Herald, the stories being written by other Amalgamated Press authors, until 1915, when he was given his own library. Maxwell Scott objected to his character being used by other authors, but was not a well man and sold the copyright to Amalgamated Press for £50.

Probably the most well known author is Edwy Searles Brooks, who wrote the bulk of the stories in the Nelson Lee Library and moved the action to St. Frank's school. The Nelson Lee Library ran until 1933, being re-launched three times, until it was finally amalgamated with the Gem.

St. Franks didn’t appear on the scene until issue 112 in 1917, when Nelson Lee and Nipper went undercover to escape a persistent death threat. You can read the 4th series reprints of those early stories to discover how and why they stayed at St. Frank's.  From that point on, St. Franks became the mainstay of the stories, with Nelson Lee as a housemaster, and his ward and assistant Nipper [Dick Hamilton] being captain of the Fourth, and narrator of the stories. Check the other Nelson Lee Library listings pages for more scanned story papers (the earliest I have is number 52 from 1916)

St. Franks was a large school, with four houses, each with a house master, arranged around a triangle. The houses contained dormitories, studies, and various other rooms for daily living. A fifth house consisted simply of class rooms. Most of the characters of the stories lived either in the Ancient House (Nipper, Handforth, Nelson Lee as housemaster) or in the College House (Buster Boots, Christine, etc.) See the plan below for a clearer idea of the layout.

Plan of St. Frank's from Nelson Lee Library 539 (Old Series) © 1925 Amalgamated Press. Click for larger image

Stories were also written for the Detective Library in 1919, some early Greyfriars Holiday Annuals and the Nugget Weekly and Library. The stories were reprinted in the Boy’s Friend Library, the second series of the Popular, the Monster Library [monthly from November 1925], the Gem (as a serial story), the Nugget 3d Library and the Schoolboy’s Own Library.

Edwy Searles Brooks also wrote a large number of other detective and thriller stories, in particular stories of Sexton Blake in the Union Jack, and post war novels under the pseudonyms Victor Gunn and Berkeley Gray.





12 June 1915

Price 1d. 52pp. Size 7" x 5¼"


25 September 1915

First story by E S Brooks: "Twenty Fathoms Deep"


18 March 1916

Pages reduced to 44


7 April 1917

Pages reduced to 36


28 August 1917

First St. Frank's story


16 February 1918

Pages reduced to 28


30 March 1918

Price increased to 1½d.


18 October 1919

Pages increased to 36


26 November 1919

Price increased to 2d. Pages increased to 44


23 April 1926

Last issue of small "Old Series"(1st Series)



1 May 1926

1st New Series (2nd Series). Size 8½" x 5½". 44 pp.


17 January 1930

Last issue of 1st New Series (2nd Series)



25 January 1930

2nd New Series (3rd Series)


18 February 1933

Last issue of 2nd New Series (Third Series)



25 February 1933

3rd New Series (4th Series)


12 August 1933

Last issue of the Nelson Lee Library

19 August 1933

Amalgamated with "The Gem"

The main listings here are taken from The Nelson Lee Library and Bibliography of the Writings of Edwy Searles Brooks by Robert C. Blythe.

You can also download the Nelson Lee index in Adobe Acrobat format by right clicking this link and choosing save as.


Acknowledgements  |  Images  |  Contact me  |  This page last updated June 2008