|Born||Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward
15 February 1883
Birmingham, England, UK
|Died||1 June 1959
White Plains, New York, USA
|Pen name||Sax Rohmer, Michael Furey|
Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward (15 February 1883 – 1 June 1959), better known as Sax Rohmer, was a prolific English novelist. He is best remembered for his series of novels featuring the master criminal Dr. Fu Manchu.
Life and work
Born in Birmingham to a working-class Irish Catholic family, he had an entirely working class education and early career before beginning to write. Rohmer initially pursued a career as a civil servant before concentrating on writing full-time.
He worked as a poet, songwriter, and comedy sketch writer in Music Hall before creating the Sax Rohmer persona and pursuing a career writing weird fiction.
Like his contemporaries Algernon Blackwood and Arthur Machen, Rohmer claimed membership to one of the factions of the qabbalistic Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Rohmer also claimed ties to the Rosicrucians, but the validity of his claims has been questioned. His physician and family friend, Dr. R. Watson Councell may have been his only legitimate connection to such organisations. It is believed that Rohmer may have exaggerated his association to boost his literary reputation as an occult writer.
His first published work came in 1903, when the short story "The Mysterious Mummy" was sold to Pearson's Weekly. Rohmer's main literary influences seem to have been Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle and M. P. Shiel. 
He gradually transitioned from writing for Music Hall performers to concentrating on short stories and serials for magazine publication. In 1909 he married Rose Elizabeth Knox.
He published his first novel Pause! anonymously in 1910.
The Fu Manchu series
After penning Little Tich in 1911 (as ghostwriter for the famous music hall entertainer of the same name: Little Tich) he issued the first Fu Manchu novel, The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu, also serialised from October 1912 – June 1913. It was an immediate success, with its fast-paced story of Denis Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie facing the worldwide conspiracy of the 'Yellow Peril'. The Fu Manchu stories, together with his more conventional detective series characters—Paul Harley, Gaston Max, Red Kerry, Morris Klaw (an occult detective), and The Crime Magnet— made Rohmer one of the most successful and well-paid authors of the 1920s and 1930s. The first three Fu Manchu books were published in the four years 1913–17; but it was not until 1931 (some fourteen years after the third book in the series) that Rohmer returned to the series with The Daughter of Fu Manchu. The reason for the long interval was that Rohmer wanted to be well and truly done with the series after The Si-Fan Mysteries, much as Arthur Conan Doyle did with Sherlock Holmes. The first three books had been successfully filmed by Stoll in the twenties as a pair of serials. In 1928, Rohmer bowed to pressure and agreed to write a fourth novel as a serial for Collier's. Paramount had the first Warner Oland picture gearing up for production and the daily newspaper strip based on the series was in the offing. There was public demand for the character's return.
Rohmer's first effort at reviving the Fu Manchu property was eventually reworked as The Emporer of America. The original intent had been for the head of the organisation to be Fu Manchu's daughter. He kept Head Centre as a female criminal mastermind to combat Drake Roscoe, but was very unhappy with the book both as it started and in its finished form. He would later return to Drake Roscoe and his female supervillain for the Sumuru series. In the meantime, he tried again to focus his energies on what was first titled Fu Manchu's Daughter for Collier's in 1930, but with an older (now knighted) Nayland Smith as the protagonist once more. The results were infinitely better and jump-started the series in the process.
In the 28 years from 1931 to 1959, Rohmer added no fewer than 10 new books to the Fu Manchu series, meaning the series totals thirteen books in all (not counting the posthumous collection The Wrath of Fu Manchu).
The Fu Manchu series drew much criticism from the Chinese government and Chinese communities in the US for what was seeing as negative ethnic stereotyping.Sociologist Virginia Berridge notes Rohmer created a false image of London's Chinese community as crime-ridden, noting the Limehouse Chinese were one of the most law-abiding of London's ethnic minorities. Critic Jack Adrian notes that "Rohmer's own racism was careless and casual, a mere symptom of his times".
Rohmer made friends with escape artist Harry Houdini, who wrote to him in praise of Rohmer's The Romance of Sorcery. Rohmer based his mystery-solving magician character Bazarada on Houdini.
The Orchard of Tears is an odd book in the context of Sax Rohmer's other work. There are no oriental villains or exotic locations; rather, there are gentle rabbits and lambs in pastoral settings and a great deal of philosophical musing. As much as he enjoyed Fu Manchu—and the notoriety and income the character provided—Rohmer had other interests and a markedly serious side. The departure from his expected subject matter is plainly signalled by the book's dedication: 'To the slaves of the pomegranate, sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, who drink at the fountain of life, this chalice is offered as a loving-cup'. The Orchard of Tears is Rohmer's most restrained and serious novel.
In The Quest of the Sacred Slipper (1919) terror comes to Britain when a self-centered archaeologist unearths one of Islam's holiest relics—the sacred slipper of the prophet Mohammed. Until it is returned to its rightful people, the implacable Hassan of Aleppo vows his reign of death and destruction shall not cease. Behind these inhuman outrages is a secret group of fanatics. Not even the best men of Scotland Yard seem able to apprehend them. For, in some mystical way, this phantom band had never been seen or even heard.
Tales of Chinatown (1922) is a collection of ten stories published in hardcover by Cassell in 1922 and Doubleday, Page and Company in 1922. All the stories first appeared in magazine format. This collection includes a story considered one of his best and also anthologised many times; "Tcheriapin." The story "The Hand of the Mandarin Quong" was rewritten for this; first published as "Hand of the White Sheikh" Rohmer changed the setting to a Chinatown background and published it as "The Mystery of the Shriveled Hand," the title then changed for this collection.
Rohmer also wrote several novels of supernatural horror, including Brood of the Witch-Queen, described by Adrian as "Rohmer's masterpiece".  Rohmer was very poor at managing his wealth, however, and made several disastrous business decisions that hampered him throughout his career. His final success came with a series of novels featuring a female variation on Fu Manchu, Sumuru. The Sumuru series consist of five books. Rohmer also wrote numerous short stories; "The Master of Hollow Grange" (1920), is a homage to M. R. James' story "Lost Hearts", featuring a mad scientist who preys on children.
His wife published her own mystery novel, Bianca in Black, in 1958 under the pen name Elizabeth Sax Rohmer. Some editions of the book mistakenly credit her as Rohmer's daughter.
- Pause!, [published anonymously] 1910. Essays, monologues and dramatic sketches.
- Little Tich, [autobiography of the Music Hall entertainer ghost-written by Ward] 1911
- The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu, [US Title: The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu] 1913 (Fu Manchu Book 1)
- The Sins of Severac Bablon, 1914. Adventures of a sort of Jewish Robin Hood.
- The Romance of Sorcery, 1914, Nonfiction study of the occult in history.
- The Yellow Claw, 1915 (Gaston Max Book 1)
- The Devil Doctor, [US Title: The Return of Dr. Fu-Manchu] 1916 (Fu Manchu Book 2)
- The Exploits of Captain O'Hagan, 1916. Short stories. This work first appeared serially in "McClure's Magazine" during 1913–1914, and was first published as a book by Jarrolds, London, 1916.
- The Si-Fan Mysteries, [US Title: The Hand of Fu Manchu] 1917 (Fu Manchu Book 3)
- Brood of the Witch Queen, 1918
- Tales of Secret Egypt, 1918. Part I: Tales of Abu Tabah – "The Yashmak of Pearls," "The Death-Ring of Sneferu," "The Lady of the Lattice," "Omar of Ispahan," "Breath of Allah," "The Whispering Mummy." Part II: Other Tales – "Lord of the Jackals," "Lure of Souls," "The Secret of Ismail," "Harun Pasha," "In the Valley of the Sorceress," "Pomegrante Flower."
- The Orchard of Tears, (Methuen, 1918)
- The Quest of the Sacred Slipper, 1919
- Dope, 1919 ("Red" Kerry Book 1 )
- The Golden Scorpion, 1919 (Gaston Max Book 2) (sequel to 1915's The Yellow Claw)
- The Dream Detective, 1920
- The Green Eyes of Bast, 1920
- The Haunting of Low Fennel, 1920 (see also Tales of East and West, 1933). British ed (C. Arthur Pearson, Nov 1920) contains: "The Haunting of Low Fennel", "The Valley of the Just", "The Blue Monkey", "The Riddle of Ragstaff", "The Master of Hollow Grange", "The Curse of a Thousand Kisses" and "The Turquoise Necklace".
- Bat-Wing, 1921 (Paul Harley Book 1)
- Fire Tongue, 1921 (Paul Harley Book 2)
- Tales of Chinatown, 1922. "The Daughter of Huang Chow," "Kerry's Kid," "The Pigtail of Hi Wing Ho, "The House of Golden Joss," "The Man with the Shaven Skull," "The White Hat," "Tcheriapin," "The Dance of the Veils," "The Hand of the Mandarin Quong," "The Key of the Temple of Heaven."
- Grey Face, 1924
- Yellow Shadows, 1925 ("Red" Kerry Book 2)
- Moon of Madness, 1927
- She Who Sleeps: A Romance of New York and the Nile, 1928. A tale of supernatural fiction – reanimation – Egyptian princesses – and hoaxes.
- The Emperor of America, 1929
- The Day the World Ended, 1930 (Gaston Max Book 3)
- The Daughter of Fu Manchu, 1931 (Fu Manchu Book 4)
- Yu'an Hee See Laughs, 1932
- The Mask of Fu Manchu, 1932 (Fu Manchu Book 5)
- Tales of East and West, (UK) 1932. Contents: Tales of the East – "The Black Mandarin", "Father of Thieves", "The Turkish Yataghan", "Spirit of the Black Hawk", "Fires of Baal"; Tales of the West – "Mark of the Monkey", "The Squirrel Man", "The Cardinal's Stair", "Torture", "The M'Villin".
- Tales of East and West, (US) 1933. (Note: The US ed is partially an abridged reprint of The Haunting of Low Fennel, 1920, minus "The Blue Monkey"; plus several stories from the UK ed). The original UK edition is superior). Contents US ed (Crime Club/Doubleday Doran & Co, 1933): Tales of the East – "The Black Mandarin", "Valley of the Just", "The Turquoise Necklace" "Curse of a Thousand Kisses", "Spirit of the Black Hawk", "The Turkish Yataghan", "Light of Atlantis"; Tales of the West – "The Haunting of Low Fennel" "At the Palace da Nostra", "The Master of Hollow Grange", "The Riddle of Ragstaff", and "Torture".
- The Bride of Fu Manchu, [original US Title: Fu Manchu's Bride] 1933 (Fu Manchu Book 6)
- The Trail of Fu Manchu, 1934 (Fu Manch Book 7)
- The Bat Flies Low, 1935
- President Fu Manchu, 1936 (Fu Manchu Book 8)
- White Velvet, 1936
- Salute to Bazarada, 1939
- The Drums of Fu Manchu, 1939 (Fu Manchu Book 9)
- The Island of Fu Manchu, 1941 (Fu Manchu Book 10)
- Seven Sins, 1943 (Gaston Max Book 4)
- Egyptian Nights, [US Title: Bimbashi-Baruk of Egypt] 1944
- The Shadow of Fu Manchu, 1948 (Fu Manchu Book 11)
- Hangover House, 1949
- The Sins of Sumuru, [US Title: Nude in Mink] 1950 (Sumuru Book 1)
- Wulfheim, [originally credited to Michael Furey, later printings listed as Sax Rohmer] 1950
- The Slaves of Sumuru, [US Title: Sumuru] 1951 (Sumuru Book 2)
- Virgin in Flames, [US Title: The Fire Goddess] 1952 (Sumuru Book 3)
- Sand and Satin, [US Title: Return of Sumuru] 1954 (Sumuru Book 4)
- The Moon is Red, 1954
- Sinister Madonna, 1956 (Sumuru Book 5)
- Re-enter: Fu Manchu, 1957 [UK Title: Re-Enter: Dr. Fu Manchu] (Fu Manchu Book 12)
- Emperor Fu Manchu, 1959 (Fu Manchu Book 13)
- The Secret of Holm Peel and Other Strange Stories, [posthumous short story collection selected by Robert Briney] Ace Books, 1970
- The Wrath of Fu Manchu and Other Stories, [posthumous collection of 12 stories including four previously uncollected Fu Manchu stories]. Introduction by Robert Briney. "The Wrath of Fu Manchu," "The Eyes of Fu Manchu," "The Word of Fu Manchu," "The Mind of Fu Manchu," "Nightmare House," "The Leopard-Couch," "The Mystery of the Fabulous Lamp," "A Date at Shepheard's," "The Mark of Maat," "The Treasure of Taia," "Crime Takes a Cruise," "A House Possessed." London: Tom Stacey 1973 hc; NY: DAW books, 1976 pbk.
- Tears of Our Lady compiled by John Robert Colombo, 2011. (Published by Battered Silicon Dispatch Box – booklet). Rohmer refers to the monograph Tears of Our Lady throughout his five Sumuru novels; here it is presented through the medium of quotations arranged by Colombo. Available for sale only in Canada.
- The Green Spider and Other Forgotten Tales of Mystery and Suspense, [posthumous collection of 13 rare and previously uncollected stories selected by Gene Christie]. Introduction by Gene Christie. IL: Black Dog Books 2011.
- The Crime Magnet: The Adventures of Major Bernard de Treville foreword by Gene Christie with introduction by John Robert Colombo, 2012. (Published by Battered Silicon Dispatch Box). Available for sale only in Canada.
- Pipe Dreams: Occasional Writings of Sax Rohmer foreword by Lawrence Knapp with introduction by John Robert Colombo, 2012. (Published by Battered Silicon Dispatch Box). Available for sale only in Canada.
- The Leopard Couch and Other Stories of the Fantastic and Supernatural, [posthumous collection of 13 rare and previously uncollected stories selected by Gene Christie]. Introduction by F. Paul Wilson. IL: Black Dog Books 2012.
- The Complete Cases of the Crime Magnet, [posthumous collection of 16 previously uncollected stories originally published between 1937 and 1945]. Introduction by Will Murray. Altus Press, 2012. Fully Authorized by the Sax Rohmer Literary Estate.
- The Voice of Kali: The Early Paul Harley Mysteries, [posthumous collection of 7 rare and previously uncollected stories selected by Gene Christie]. Introduction by William Patrick Maynard. "The Voice of Kali," "The House of the Golden Joss," "The White Hat," "The Man with the Shaven Skull," "The Black Mandarin," "The Dyke Grange Mystery," "Red Mist." IL: Black Dog Books 2013.
- Bianca in Black by Elizabeth Sax Rohmer, 1958
- Master of Villainy: A Biography of Sax Rohmer by Elizabeth Sax Rohmer and Cay Van Ash with Robert Briney, 1972
- Ten Years Beyond Baker Street: Sherlock Holmes Matches Wits with the Diabolical Dr. Fu Manchu by Cay Van Ash, 1984. Fully Authorized by the Literary Estates of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sax Rohmer.
- The Fires of Fu Manchu by Cay Van Ash, 1987. Authorized by the Sax Rohmer Literary Estate.
- The Terror of Fu Manchu by William Patrick Maynard, 2009. Authorized by the Sax Rohmer Literary Estate.
- The Destiny of Fu Manchu by William Patrick Maynard, 2012. Authorized by the Sax Rohmer Literary Estate.
- The Triumph of Fu Manchu by William Patrick Maynard, 2014. Authorized by the Sax Rohmer Literary Estate.
A note on texts: US editions of the Sumuru books (Gold Medal/Fawcett paperbacks) have texts which were frequently corrupted.
- IMDb profile
- "Rohmer, Sax" by Jack Adrian in David Pringle, St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers. London : St. James Press, 1998, ISBN 1558622063 (pp. 482–4).
- L.D. Allen, "Sax Rohmer",in E. F. Bleiler, ed. Supernatural Fiction Writers. New York: Scribner's, 1985. pp.555–560.
- Briney, Robert E."Chronological Bibliography of the Works of Sax Rohmer". In Francis M. Nevins (ed), The Mystery Writer's Art, London: Tom Stacey 1971, as an appendix to "Sax Rohmer: An Informal Survey" by Briney. A slightly altered bversion of the checklist appear in Master of Villainy – see Van Ash and Rohmer below.
- Colombo, John Robert. "Sax Rohmer and His Yellow Shadows," The Tamarack Review journal (Autumn 1960), No. 17, 43–57. This essay discusses the man and his accomplishment the year following his death.
- Day, Bradford M. Sax Rohmer: A Bibliography Denver, NY: Science Fiction and Fantasy Publications, 1963. Includes information on book editions and magazine appeararances. Reprinted within Bradford M. Day,Bibliography of Adventure NY: Arno Press, 1978. (The reprint is slightly revised but is not updated beyond 1963). Both versions have some inaccuracies but are useful for the listings on Rohmer's magazine appearances.
- Enright, D.J. "Introduction" to The Mystery of Dr Fu Manchu. London: Everyman, 1985. Overview of the Fu Manchu work.
- Huang, Yunte. Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. Chapter 15 ("Fu Manchu"), 136-44, considers the Yellow Menace. Chapter 28 ("The Fu Manchurian Candidate"), 268-77, traces the influence of Rohmer's President Fu Manchu on Richard Condon's influential novel The Manchurian Candidate.
- Lane, Andrew. "The Crimes of Fu Manchu". Million magazine (May–June 1991), 41–44. Overview, with a useful "Fu Manchu Chronology".
- Scapperotti, Dan Memories of Fu Manchu. Starlog (Jan 1987), 60–64. Article about Henry Brandon, the actor who played Fu Manchu in the Republic Pictures serial Drums of Fu Manchu.
- Scott, David. "Rohmer's 'Orient' – Pulp Orientalism?" Orient Archive (80), 2012, 1–27. A comprehensive consideration of Rohmer's descriptions of Egypt and the Egyptians and China and the Chinese, with special reference to women, jihad, and conspiracy, in light of the notion of "the other."
- Cay Van Ash and Elizabeth Sax Rohmer. Master of Villainy, London: Tom Stacey, 1972. The only full-length biography. Originally intended as a collaboration by Rohmer and his wife, the book draws on a series of articles titled "Pipe Dreams" written by Rohmer as early as 1918, as well anecdotes and memories of Rohmer's wife. Robert E. Briney annotated the text. Includes Robert E. Briney, "Chronological Bibliography of the Books of Sax Rohmer" (see pp 299–305), which supersedes that of Day in Bibliography of Adventure (1970)
- Works by Sax Rohmer at Project Gutenberg
- Audiobooks of Works by Sax Rohmer at Librivox
- Sax Rohmer – The Name http://www.njedge.net/~knapp/The_Name.htm