Brigadier Gerard

The young and dashing Brigadier Etienne Gérard of the Hussars of Conflans, “gay riding, plume tossing, debonair, the darling of the ladies, is by far the most entertaining character created by Arthur Conan Doyle. The Emperor Napoléon is quoted as saying of him “if he has the thickest head he also has the stoutest heart in my army.” In other words this impeccably dressed young Hussar is both a figure of fun and a soldier of great courage.

Napoléon sends him on horrendously dangerous missions of “disinformation,” certain that his devoted Brigadier will be made prisoner and surrender the documents he was entrusted with. Lo and behold, Gerard is so brave and so lucky, that he beats all the odds. During his adventures, he is often helped by smitten maidens who succumb to his charm.

George McDonald Frazer cited Brigadier Gérard as a major inspiration for his own fictional comedic adventurer Harry Flashman, and wrote the introduction to a 2001 collection of Gérard stories

Brigadier Gerard painted by Eric d’Antin
Brigadier Gerard painted by Eric d’Antin
Peter McEnery and Claudia Cardinale in the 1970 film “The Adventures of Gerard”
Peter McEnery and Claudia Cardinale in the 1970 film “The Adventures of Gerard”

The stories were originally published in The Strand Magazine between 1896 and 1903. They were later collected and published in two volumes, The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard (1886) and The Adventures of Brigadier Gerard (1903). The last story, The Marriage of the Brigadier, was published in 1910. All Brigadier Gérard stories were collected into the Complete Brigadier Gérard in 1995, including a previously uncollected story: A Foreign Office Romance (1894).

The Brigadier's has not yet had the exposure he is due, probably because the perfect actor who could do justice to this dashing young man, was never found. However, his fans should not despair; there may soon be news about a new film.

Brigadier Gerard Films Brigadier Gerard Bibliography