A. E. W. Mason

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A. E. W. Mason
Alfred Edward Woodley Mason.jpg
A. E. W. Mason
Captain in The Manchester Regiment
Born Alfred Edward Woodley Mason
(1865-05-07)7 May 1865
Dulwich, London, England
Died 22 November 1948(1948-11-22) (aged 83)
London, England
Occupation Author
Language English
Nationality British
"Four Feathers". Caricature by Max published in Vanity Fair in 1908.

Alfred Edward Woodley Mason (7 May 1865 Dulwich, London – 22 November 1948 London) was an English author and politician. He is best remembered for his 1902 novel The Four Feathers.


He studied at Dulwich College and graduated from Trinity College, Oxford in 1888. He was a contemporary of fellow Liberal Anthony Hope, who went on to write the adventure novel The Prisoner of Zenda.[citation needed]

His first novel, A Romance of Wastdale, was published in 1895. He was the author of more than 20 books, including At The Villa Rose (1910), a mystery novel in which he introduced his French detective, Inspector Hanaud. His best-known book is The Four Feathers, which has been made into several films. Many consider it his masterpiece. Other books are The House of the Arrow (1924), No Other Tiger (1927), The Prisoner in the Opal (1929) and Fire Over England (1937). He contributed a short story, "The Conjurer", to The Queen's Book of the Red Cross.[citation needed]

Mason was elected as a Liberal Member of Parliament for Coventry in the 1906 general election. He served only a single term in Parliament, retiring at the next general election in January 1910.[citation needed]

His first play was the 4-act comedy Marjory Strode.[1] Mason wrote three plays that were produced and presented by Sir George Alexander in St James's Theatre. He wrote, "I had three plays produced by George Alexander; one a failure, Colonel Smith, one which made a moderate profit, Open Windows, and one which was a considerable success, The Witness for the Defence.[2] The light farce Colonel Smith opened on 23 April 1909. The Witness for the Defence opened on 1 February 1911, starring Sir George Alexander as Henry Thresk. In 1913 Mason's problem play Open Windows opened on the evening of 11 March, starring Sydney Valentine as Phillip Hammond, Irene Vanbrugh as Cynthia Herrick, Sir George Alexander as John Herrick, with Rosalie Toller as Elsie Herrick.[3][4]

Mason served with the Manchester Regiment in the First World War, being promoted Captain in December 1914. He transferred to the General List (reservists) in 1915 and the Royal Marine Light Infantry in 1917 with the rank of Major. His military career included work in naval intelligence, serving in Spain and Mexico, where he set up counter-espionage networks on behalf of the British government.[citation needed]

He died in 1948 while working on a non-fiction book about Admiral Robert Blake. Mason had been offered a knighthood but declined it declaring that such honors meant little to a childless man.[citation needed]


Novels featuring Inspector Hanaud[edit]

Other novels[edit]

Short story collections[edit]



  1. ^ "Review: Marjory Strode by A. E. W. Mason". The Athenaeum (4196): 395–396. March 28, 1908. 
  2. ^ Mason, A. E. W. (1935). Sir George Alexander and the St. James' Theatre. Ayer Publishing. p. 22. 
  3. ^ "Open Windows". The Railway Official Gazette: 46. March 1913. 
  4. ^ "NEW PLAY BY A.E.W. MASON; "Open Windows" Is Produced in London and Is Well Received". NY Times. 12 March 1913. 
  • M. Stenton and S. Lees, Who's Who of British MPs, Vol. II (Harvester Press, 1978).

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Charles Murray
Member of Parliament for Coventry
Succeeded by
John Foster