The Pulp Swordsmen: Denis Burke

In the later part of the 16th Century, the Tudor royal family of England embarked on the reconquest of Ireland. The English had lost control of Ireland after Henry II’s addition of Ireland to his domains in 1171 A.D. The original invading Normans intermarried with the native Irish and their descendants went Irish themselves. One particular group of Norman reprobates were the de Burgho family. In time, they became the Burkes. With reconquest, many an Irishmen took service in the armies of Spain, France, Austria, Prussia, and even Poland.

One such member of the “Wild Geese” was Denis Burke as chronicled by H. Bedford-Jones. Bedford-Jones (1887-1949) has been billed as “King of the Pulps.” He specialized in historical yarns of swashbuckling adventure. The Errol Flynn movies of the 1930s are closer to Bedford-Jones then they are to Rafael Sabatini.

Denis Burke serving in an Irish Regiment in the French army falls afoul of the authorities. He escapes and becomes a buccaneer.  His adventures include “Escape” (Argosy, Nov. 7, 1931), “Luck of the Sea Burkes” (Argosy, Jan. 9, 1932), “Spanish Gold” (Argosy, March 19, 1932), “Buccaneer Blood” (Argosy, Sept. 10, 1932), and “Spanish Blood is Proud Blood” (Argosy, March 25, 1933). There are enough stories to fill out a book. With all the piratemania the past few years, this should be a natural reprint.