Sumuru (character)

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Sumuru is a female supervillain created by Sax Rohmer, author of the Fu Manchu series of novels. She leads a secret organisation known as the Order of Our Lady.


After the end of World War II, Rohmer was approached by the BBC to do a radio serial. As Fu Manchu was a controversial character, Rohmer used the same basic plots with a female mastermind named Sumuru.[1] The series Shadow of Sumuru was broadcast from 1945-1946 on the BBC Light Programme in eight half-hour shows with Anna Burden and Robert Beatty in the cast.[2]


In 1950 Rohmer published his radio serial as a novel entitled The Sins of Sumuru. The American Fawcett Gold Medal paperback publishing house printed it under the title Nude in Mink.[3] When the book went into a second printing in a month's time the publisher commissioned a book series with different titles in Great Britain and the USA.

  • Nude in Mink/The Sins of Sumuru (1950)
  • Sumuru/Slaves of Sumuru (1951)
  • The Fire Goddess/Virgin in Flames (1952)
  • Return of Sumuru/Sand and Satin (1954)
  • Sinister Madonna (1956)
  • The Sumuru Omnibus (2011) compiled by John Robert Colombo

Anthony Boucher described the 1954 installment as "melodrama almost as entertainingly Perelmanesque as the exploits of the evil Doctor."[4] He later praised Sinister Madonna as "outrageously enjoyable," describing it as "critically indefensible, but my God, such fun . . . !"[5]


A silent film version of Sumuru was made in 1927, starring Carmel Myers and directed by Tom Terriss. A print survives in the Library of Congress.

Harry Alan Towers, who had produced the Fu Manchu film series in the mid-1960s with Christopher Lee, produced his first two Sumuru films featuring Shirley Eaton as Sumuru. Years later, he produced yet another Sumuru film in 2003. The film took its basic plot premise from the books, but set it in the far future.


  1. ^ Briney, R.E. editor The Rohmer Review No. 15, September. 1976
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Recommended Reading," F&SF, September 1954, p.93.
  5. ^ "Recommended Reading," F&SF, June 1956, p.102-03.

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