I was he

Your mother only had sex with one man in the whole of her life. I was he. I acknowledged my responsibility in a letter to your mother … (p. 443)

These sentences are from the Inspector Dalgliesh novel Death in Holy Orders. How strange to find I was he: I would have expected something like “I was the one“. I was he reminds me more of Henry James than of P.D. James. The novel isn’t that old though: it came out in 2001. I wouldn’t have thought anyone still said I was he. Any explanation for this strange usage?

The novel was dramatised by the BBC in 2003: would the script writer have kept it in, I wonder?

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