Fergus Hume

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Fergus Hume

Fergusson Wright Hume, known as Fergus Hume (8 July 1859 – 12 July 1932) was a prolific English novelist.[1]

Early life[edit]

Hume was born in England, the second son of Dr. James Hume. At the age of three, his father emigrated with his family to Dunedin, New Zealand, where he was educated at Otago Boys' High School and studied law at the University of Otago. He was admitted to the New Zealand bar in 1885. Shortly after graduation he relocated to Melbourne, Australia, where he obtained a job as a barristers' clerk. He began writing plays, but found it impossible to persuade the managers of Melbourne theatres to accept or even read them.

Rise to fame[edit]

Finding that the novels of Émile Gaboriau were then very popular in Melbourne, he obtained and read a set of them and determined to write a novel of a similar kind. The result was the self-published novel The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1886), which became a great success. Hume based his descriptions of poor urban life on his knowledge of Little Bourke Street. He sold the English and United States rights to the novel for 50 pounds, and thus derived little benefit from its success. It eventually became the best selling mystery novel of the Victorian era, author John Sutherland terming it the "most sensationally popular crime and detective novel of the century".[2] This novel inspired Arthur Conan Doyle to write A Study in Scarlet, which introduced the character Sherlock Holmes. Doyle remarked, "Hansom Cab was a slight tale, mostly sold by 'puffing'."

After the success of his first novel and the publication of another, Professor Brankel's Secret (c.1886), Hume returned to England in 1888.[3] He resided in London for few years and then he moved to the Essex countryside where he lived in Thundersley for 30 years, eventually producing more than 100 novels and short stories. He continued to be anxious for success as a dramatist, and at one time Henry Irving was favourably considering one of his plays, but he died before it could be produced.

Personal life[edit]

Hume did not seek publicity and little is known of his personal life. The writer of the obituary notice in The Times stated that he was a very religious man who during his last years did much lecturing to young people's clubs and debating societies. He died at Thundersley, Essex, on 12 July 1932, shortly after completing his last (and extremely rare) book, The Last Straw.

Works[edit]

Individual works[edit]

Cover of a 1907 New York publication of The Silent House
  • The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1886)
  • Professor Brankel's Secret (1886)
  • Madame Midas (1888)
  • The Girl from Malta (1889)
  • The Gentleman Who Vanished: A Psychological Phantasy (1890, aka The Man Who Vanished)
  • Miss Mephistopheles (1890, aka Tracked by Fate)
  • The Year of Miracle: A Tale of the Year One Thousand Nine Hundred (1891)
  • A Creature of the Night (1891)
  • Monsieur Judas (1891)
  • When I Lived in Bohemia (1891)
  • Whom God Hath Joined (1891)
  • The Black Carnation (1892)
  • Aladdin in London (1892)
  • The Fever of Life (1892)
  • The Island of Fantasy (1892)
  • The Chinese Jar (1893)
  • The Harlequin Opal (1893)
  • The Nameless City: A Romany Romance (1893)
  • A Speck of the Motley (1893)
  • The Lone Inn (1894)
  • The Mystery of Landy Court (1894, aka From Thief to Detective)
  • The Best of Her Sex (1894)
  • The Gates of Dawn (1894)
  • A Midnight Mystery (1894)
  • The Crime of Liza Jane (1895)
  • The White Prior (1895)
  • The Expedition of Captain Flick (1896)
  • The Carbuncle Clue (1896)
  • A Marriage Mystery (1896)
  • Tricked by a Tattoo (1896)
  • Claude Duval of Ninety-Five (1897)
  • The Tombstone Treasure (1897)
  • The Clock Struck One (1898)
  • The Rainbow Feather (1898)
  • The Devil-Stick (1898, aka For the Defense)
  • Lady Jezebel (1898)
  • Under One Cover (1898)
  • The Red-Headed Man (1899)
  • The Silent House in Pimlico (1899)
  • The Indian Bangle (1899)
  • The Crimson Cryptogram (1900)
  • Shylock of the River (1900)
  • The Vanishing of Tera (1900)
  • The Bishop's Secret (1900, aka Bishop Pendle)
  • The Lady from Nowhere (1900)
  • A Traitor in London (1900)[4]
  • The Millionaire Mystery (1901)
  • The Crime of the Crystal (1901)
  • The Golden Wang-Ho (1901, aka The Secret of the Chinese Jar)
  • The Mother of Emeralds (1901)
  • A Woman's Burden (1901)
  • The Pagan's Cup (1902)
  • The Turnpike House (1902)
  • Woman: The Sphinx (1902)
  • A Coin of Edward VII (1903)
  • The Jade Eye (1903)
  • The Silver Bullet (1903)
  • The Yellow Holly (1903)
  • The Guilty House (1903)
  • The Miser's Will (1903)
  • The Mandarin's Fan (1904)
  • The Wheeling Light (1904)
  • The Red Window (1904)
  • The Lonely Church (1904)
  • The White Room (1904)
  • The Secret Passage (1905)
  • Lady Jim of Curzon Street (1905)
  • The Opal Serpent (1905)
  • The Fatal Song (1905)
  • The Scarlet Bat (1905)
  • The Wooden Hand (1905)
  • The Mystery of the Shadow (1906)
  • The Black Patch (1906)
  • Jonah's Luck (1906)
  • The Purple Fern (1907)
  • The Yellow Hunchback (1907)
  • The Amethyst Cross (1908)
  • Flies in the Web (1908)
  • The Sealed Message (1908)
  • The Green Mummy (1908)
  • The Crowned Skull (1908)
  • The Mystery of a Motor Cab (1908)
  • The Sacred Herb (1908)
  • The Devil's Ace (1909)
  • The Solitary Farm (1909)
  • The Top Dog (1909)
  • The Disappearing Eye (1909)
  • The Peacock of Jewels (1910)
  • The Lonely Subaltern (1910)
  • The Mikado Jewel (1910)
  • The Spider (Hume novel)|The Spider (1910)
  • The Steel Crown (Hume novel)|The Steel Crown (1911)
  • High Water Mark (1911)
  • The Jew's House (1911)
  • The Pink Shop (1911)
  • The Rectory Governess (1911)
  • The Mystery Queen (1912)
  • The Blue Talisman (1912)
  • Red Money (Hume novel)|Red Money (1912)
  • Across the Footlights (1912)
  • Mother Mandarin (1912)
  • A Son of Perdition: An Occult Romance (1912)
  • The Curse (Hume novel)|The Curse (1913)
  • In Queer Street (1913)
  • Seen in the Shadow (1913)
  • The Thirteenth Guest (1913)
  • The Lost Parchment (1914)
  • The 4 PM Express (1914)
  • Not Wanted (1914)
  • Answered (Hume novel)|Answered (1915)
  • The Caretaker (1915)
  • The Red Bicycle (1916)
  • The Grey Doctor (1917)
  • The Silent Signal (1917)
  • Heart of Ice (1918)
  • The Black Image (1918)
  • Next Door (1918)
  • Crazy-Quilt (1919)
  • The Master-Mind (1919)
  • The Dark Avenue (1920)
  • The Other Person (1920)
  • The Singing Head (1920)
  • The Woman Who Held On (1920)
  • Three (1921)
  • The Unexpected (1921)
  • A Trick of Time (1922)
  • The Moth-Woman (1923)
  • The Whispering Lane (1924)
  • The Caravan Mystery (1926)
  • The Last Straw (1932)

Collections of works[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ John Sutherland (1990) [1989]. "Hume, Fergus". The Stanford Companion to Victorian Literature. p. 313. 
  2. ^ John Sutherland (1990) [1989]. "The Mystery of a Hansom Cab". The Stanford Companion to Victorian Literature. pp. 454–455. 
  3. ^ "Hume, Fergus". Who's Who, 59: pp. 893–894. 1907. 
  4. ^ "Review: A Traitor in London, by Fergus Hume". Westminster Review 155: 109. 1901. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]