Max Pemberton

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Max Pemberton
ca. 1895
ca. 1895
Born(1863-06-19)19 June 1863
Paddington, London, England[1][2]
Died22 February 1950(1950-02-22) (aged 86)
London, England
OccupationJournalist and author
Alma materMerchant Taylors' School
Caius College, Cambridge.
Notable worksThe Iron Pirate
Notable awardsKnight Bachelor
SpouseAlice Agnes Tussaud

Sir Max Pemberton JP (19 June 1863 – 22 February 1950) was a popular English novelist, working mainly in the adventure and mystery genres.[3]


He was educated at St Albans School, Merchant Taylors' School, and Caius College, Cambridge.[4] A clubman, journalist and dandy (Lord Northcliffe admired his 'fancy vests'), he frequented both Fleet Street and The Savage Club.[citation needed]

Pemberton was the editor of boys' magazine Chums in 1892–1893[5] during its heyday. Between 1896 and 1906 he also edited Cassell's Magazine (see [1]), in which capacity he published the early works of R. Austin Freeman and William Le Queux.

"I'm essentially an outdoor man." ca. 1903

His most famous work The Iron Pirate was a best-seller during the early 1890s and it launched his prolific writing career (see below). It was the story of a great gas-driven iron-clad, which could outpace the navies of the world and terrorised the Atlantic Ocean. Other notable works included Captain Black (1911). Pemberton's 1894 collection Jewel Mysteries: From a Dealer's Note Book was a series of Mystery stories revolving around stolen jewels.[3] Pemberton also wrote historical fiction. Pemberton's I Crown Thee King is set in Sherwood Forest during the time of Mary I.[6] His novels Beatrice of Venice (1904) and Paulina (1922) centre on Napoleon's military campaigns in Italy.[7] During January 1908, Pemberton had a story entitled Wheels of Anarchy published by Cassell & Company (London). This story was based upon notes that were written by his friend Bertram Fletcher Robinson shortly before he died in January 1907.[8] It is an adventure tale about anarchists and assassins that is set across Europe. The novel's hero and narrator, Bruce Driscoll, a recent Cambridge graduate, appears to be modelled upon Fletcher Robinson.

Leisure time ca. 1903

Pemberton was member of a criminology literary society known as 'Our Society' along with eleven other notable members including Bertram Fletcher Robinson and Arthur Conan Doyle.[citation needed]

In 1920, Pemberton founded the London School of Journalism, wrote a biography about Alfred Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe. He was married to Alice Tussaud, granddaughter of Madame Marie Tussaud and daughter of Joseph Tussaud.

Pemberton also wrote a biography of Sir Henry Royce published in 1934 shortly after Royce's death.


Pemberton was knighted in the 1928 Birthday Honours, gazetted on 1 June 1928.[9]

Selected works[edit]

Cover of A Puritan's Wife (1902)



  1. ^ General Register Office index of births registered in July, August, September 1863 – Name: Pemberton, Max District: Kensington Volume: 1A Page: 9.
  2. ^ Note: He sometimes gave his place of birth as Edgbaston, Birmingham (his mother was from Birmingham)
  3. ^ a b LeRoy Lad Panek, After Sherlock Holmes: The Evolution of British and American Detective Stories, 1891–1914.McFarland, 2014. ISBN 9780786477654 (pp. 66-7).
  4. ^ "Pemberton, Max (PMRN881M)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  5. ^ "Pemberton, Max". Who's Who. Vol. 59. 1907. p. 1378.
  6. ^ Jonathan Nield, A Guide to the Best Historical Novels and Tales. London, E. Mathews & Marrot, 1929 (p.151).
  7. ^ Daniel D. McGarry, Sarah Harriman White, Historical Fiction Guide: Annotated Chronological, Geographical, and Topical List of Five Thousand Selected Historical Novels. Scarecrow Press, 1963 (p.221)
  8. ^ "Fletcher Robinson, Pemberton & Doyle". BFRonline.BIZ. Archived from the original on 16 March 2010. Retrieved 24 July 2009.
  9. ^ The London Gazette Issue 33390, 1 June 1928 (Supplement), p. 3846
  • The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes: Early Detective Stories, ed. Hugh Greene (Penguin, 1971)

External links[edit]