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Fergus Hume

Fergus Hume is a New Zealander writer born in England in 1859. At the age of three, his family returns to New Zealand. They settle in Dunedin where he is educated at Otago high school. He then studies law at Otago University and is admitted to the bar in 1885. He then moves to Melbourne, Australia, and becomes a barrister's clerk. Probably wanting to do something else with his life than remain a barrister's clerk, he begins writing plays but finds it hard to draw any interest from Melbourne theatres. He hears of the success of French crime writers Emile Gaboriau and Fortuné du Boisgobey. He reads the complete works of both Gaboriau and Boisgobey, which were widely available at the time throughout the English-speaking world, mainly the United Kingdom and the United States, but also Australia. He decides to give it a go and in 1886, self-publishes his first and most famous novel, [The mystery of a Hansom cab->artXXX]. At first the book only encounters a meagre success, according to Jacques Baudou, but sells 100 000 copies in Australia according to others. He then sells the rights to a group of British investors for a small sum of money. They launch the book in London in 1887. This time, the crime novel encounters a tremendous success, selling 340 000 copies according to Jacques Baudou. The book is then launched in the United States where its success is even more spectacular. It becomes the bestselling novel of the second half of the 19th century, the thriller of the Victorian era. It is said the Hansom cab even inspired Conan Doyle to write A study in Scarlet.

In 1888, after 3 years in Melbourne, Fergus Hume returns to England. He first lives in London for a few years and then moves to Essex, where he lives in Thundersley for 30 years. Hume dies in July 1932, having written around 100 books and plays. The sad irony is that he will never reiterate the success he had experienced with The mystery of a Hansom cab for which he never made any real money, which also explains why he remained poor most of his life. His main works outside of The mystery of a Hansom cab are “The Piccadilly puzzle” (1895), “The bishop's secret” (1900), “The crimson cryptogramme” (1900), and also a series of novels revolving around a gypsy lady who solves mysteries, Hagar Stanley with “Hagar of the pawn shop”. Hume's main ambition was to get some of his plays produced. He never managed to; still, he will remain the author of one of the best crime classics ever written.

©2014-Les Editions de Londres

Livres publiés

  • The mystery of a Hansom cab

    par Fergus Hume

    ISBN : 978-1-909782-98-3
    Date de parution : 8 novembre 2014
    Nombre de pages : 350 pages

    “The mystery of a Hansom cab” is an 1886 crime novel by New Zealander writer Fergus Hume. “The mystery of a Hansom cab” is often considered as the most famous crime classics of the Victorian era. The action is set in Melbourne in 188X, a Thursday night. We discover two drunk men: One helps the other into a (...)

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