Fergus Hume

Fergusson Wright Hume (8 July 1859 – 12 July 1932), known as Fergus Hume, was a prolific English novelist.[1]

Fergus Hume
Fergus Hume (c.1882)

Early life

Hume was born in England, the second son of James Hume, a Scot. When he was three the family emigrated to Dunedin, New Zealand, where he was educated at Otago Boys' High School and studied law at the University of Otago. He was admitted to the New Zealand bar in 1885. Shortly after graduation Hume relocated to Melbourne, Australia, where he obtained a job as a barristers' clerk. He began writing plays, but found it impossible to persuade the managers of Melbourne theatres to accept or even to read them.

Rise to fame

Hume first came to attention after a play he had written, entitled The Bigamist was stolen by a rogue called Calthorpe, and presented by him as his own work under the title The Mormon. Finding that the novels of Émile Gaboriau were then very popular in Melbourne, Hume obtained and read a set of them and determined to write a novel of the same kind. The result was The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, set in Melbourne, with descriptions of poor urban life based on his knowledge of Little Bourke Street. It was self-published in 1886 and became a great success. Because he sold the British and American rights for 50 pounds, however, he reaped little of the potential financial benefit. It became the best-selling mystery novel of the Victorian era; in 1990 John Sutherland called it the "most sensationally popular crime and detective novel of the century".[2] This novel inspired Arthur Conan Doyle to write A Study in Scarlet, which introduced the fictional consulting detective Sherlock Holmes. Doyle remarked, "Hansom Cab was a slight tale, mostly sold by 'puffing'."[3]

After the success of his first novel and the publication of another, Professor Brankel's Secret (c. 1886), Hume returned to England in 1888.[4] His third novel was titled Madame Midas and it was based on the life of the mine and newspaper owner Alice Ann Cornwell. This book became a play and her estranged husband, John Whiteman, sued over its content.[5]

Hume resided in London for a few years and then moved to the Essex countryside where he lived in Thundersley for 30 years. Eventually he produced more than 100 novels and short stories.

Personal life

Hume did not seek publicity and little is known of his personal life. The writer of the obituary notice in The Times stated that he was a very religious man who during his last years did much lecturing to young people's clubs and debating societies. He died at Thundersley on 12 July 1932, shortly after completing his last book, The Last Straw.


Individual works


  • The Bigamist (1887). Hume gave the script to a fraudster, Calthorpe Mallaby, who re-titled the play The Mormon, and presented it under his own name at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1887
  • The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, with Arthur Law (1888)
  • Madame Midas, the Gold Queen, with Philip Beck (1888)
  • In Love and War (1889)
  • The Fool of the Family (1900)


  • The Golden Idol (Date Unknown)
  • The Dwarf's Chamber (Date Unknown)
  • The Harlequin Opal (Date Unknown)
  • The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1886)
  • Professor Brankel's Secret (1886)
  • Madame Midas (1888)
  • The Girl from Malta (1889)
  • The Piccadilly Puzzle (1889)
  • The Gentleman Who Vanished: A Psychological Phantasy (1890); aka The Man Who Vanished
  • Miss Mephistopheles (1890); aka Tracked by Fate
  • The Man with a Secret (1890)
  • The Year of Miracle: A Tale of the Year One Thousand Nine Hundred (1891)
  • A Creature of the Night (1891)
  • Monsieur Judas (1891)
  • When I Lived in Bohemia: Papers Selected from the Portfolio of Peter ---, Esq (1891)
  • Whom God Hath Joined (1891)
  • The Black Carnation (1892)
  • Aladdin in London (1892)
  • The Fever of Life (1892)
  • The Island of Fantasy (1892)
  • The Man with a Secret (1892)
  • The Chinese Jar (1893)
  • The Harlequin Opal (1893)
  • The Nameless City: A Rommany Romance (1893), under the name Stephen Grail, at least in the US[6]
  • A Speck of the Motley (1893)
  • The Lone Inn (1894)
  • The Mystery of Landy Court (1894); aka From Thief to Detective
  • The Best of Her Sex (1894)
  • The Gates of Dawn (1894)
  • A Midnight Mystery (1894)
  • The Third Volume (1894)
  • The Crime of Liza Jane (1895)
  • The White Prior (1895)
  • The Expedition of Captain Flick (1896)
  • The Carbuncle Clue (1896)
  • A Marriage Mystery (1896)
  • Tracked by a Tattoo (1896)
  • Claude Duval of Ninety-Five (1897)
  • The Tombstone Treasure (1897)
  • For the Defence (1898)
  • The Clock Struck One (1898)
  • The Rainbow Feather (1898)
  • The Devil-Stick (1898); aka For the Defense
  • Lady Jezebel (1898)
  • Under One Cover (1898)
  • The Red-Headed Man (1899)
  • The Silent House in Pimlico (1899)
  • The Indian Bangle (1899)
  • The Crimson Cryptogram (1900)
  • Shylock of the River (1900)
  • The Vanishing of Tera (1900)
  • The Bishop's Secret (1900); aka Bishop Pendle
  • The Lady from Nowhere (1900)
  • A Traitor in London (1900)[7]
  • The Millionaire Mystery (1901)
  • The Crime of the Crystal (1901)
  • The Golden Wang-Ho (1901); aka The Secret of the Chinese Jar
  • The Mother of Emeralds (1901)
  • A Woman's Burden (1901)
  • The Pagan's Cup (1902)
  • The Turnpike House (1902)
  • Woman: The Sphinx (1902)
  • A Coin of Edward VII (1903)
  • The Jade Eye (1903)
  • The Silver Bullet (1903)
  • The Yellow Holly (1903)
  • The Guilty House (1903)
  • The Miser's Will (1903)
  • The Mandarin's Fan (1904)
  • The Wheeling Light (1904)
  • The Red Window (1904)
  • The Lonely Church (1904)
  • The White Room (1904)
  • The Secret Passage (1905)
  • Lady Jim of Curzon Street (1905)
  • The Opal Serpent (1905)
  • The Fatal Song (1905)
  • The Scarlet Bat (1905)
  • The Wooden Hand (1905)
  • The Mystery of the Shadow (1906)
  • The Black Patch (1906)
  • Jonah's Luck (1906)
  • The Purple Fern (1907)
  • The Yellow Hunchback (1907)
  • The Amethyst Cross (1908)
  • Flies in the Web (1908)
  • The Sealed Message (1908)
  • The Green Mummy (1908)
  • The Crowned Skull (1908)
  • The Mystery of a Motor Cab (1908)
  • The Sacred Herb (1908)
  • The Devil's Ace (1909)
  • The Solitary Farm (1909)
  • The Top Dog (1909)
  • The Disappearing Eye (1909)
  • The Peacock of Jewels (1910)
  • The Lonely Subaltern (1910)
  • The Mikado Jewel (1910)
  • The Spider (1910)
The Silent House - cover - Project Gutenberg etext 19069
Cover of a 1907 New York publication of The Silent House (1899)
  • The Steel Crown (1911)
  • High Water Mark (1911)
  • The Jew's House (1911)
  • The Pink Shop (1911)
  • The Rectory Governess (1911)
  • The Mystery Queen (1912)
  • The Blue Talisman (1912)
  • Red Money (1912)
  • Across the Footlights (1912)
  • Mother Mandarin (1912)
  • A Son of Perdition: An Occult Romance (1912)
  • The Curse (1913)
  • In Queer Street (1913)
  • Seen in the Shadow (1913)
  • The Thirteenth Guest (1913)
  • The Lost Parchment (1914)
  • The 4 PM Express (1914)
  • Not Wanted (1914)
  • Answered (1915)
  • The Caretaker (1915)
  • The Red Bicycle (1916)
  • The Grey Doctor (1917)
  • The Silent Signal (1917)
  • Heart of Ice (1918)
  • The Black Image (1918)
  • Next Door (1918)
  • Crazy-Quilt (1919)
  • The Master-Mind (1919)
  • The Dark Avenue (1920)
  • The Other Person (1920)
  • The Singing Head (1920)
  • The Woman Who Held On (1920)
  • Three (1921)
  • The Unexpected (1921)
  • A Trick of Time (1922)
  • The Moth-Woman (1923)
  • The Whispering Lane (1924)
  • The Caravan Mystery (1926). Originally published as a newspaper serial under the title The Caravan Crime (1921)
  • The Last Straw (1932)

Collections of works

  • Chronicles of Faeryland (1892)
  • The Dwarf's Chamber: And Other Stories (1896)
  • Hagar of the Pawn-Shop: The Gypsy Detective (1898)
  • The Dancer in Red (1906)

See also


  1. ^ John Sutherland (1990) [1989]. "Hume, Fergus". The Stanford Companion to Victorian Literature. p. 313.
  2. ^ John Sutherland (1990) [1989]. "The Mystery of a Hansom Cab". The Stanford Companion to Victorian Literature. pp. 454–455.
  3. ^ "Fergus Hume's Startling Story" by Simon Casterton, Inside Story : Books and Arts, 8 May 2012
  4. ^ "Hume, Fergus". Who's Who. Vol. 59. 1907. pp. 893–94.
  5. ^ Griffiths, D. (2004-09-23). Cornwell [other married names Whiteman, Robinson], Alice Ann (1852–1932), goldmining industrialist and newspaper proprietor. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 9 Dec. 2017, see link
  6. ^ "The nameless city. A Rommany romance". LCCN Permalink. Library of Congress (lccn.loc.gov). Retrieved 2016-09-21.
  7. ^ "Review: A Traitor in London, by Fergus Hume". Westminster Review. 155: 109. 1901.
Other sources

External links

1886 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1886.

1889 in Australian literature

This article presents a list of the historical events and publications of Australian literature during 1889.

For an overview of world literature see 1889 in literature.

See also:

1888 in Australian literature,

1889 in Australia,

1890 in Australian literature.

1894 in Australian literature

This article presents a list of the historical events and publications of Australian literature during 1894.

For an overview of world literature see 1894 in literature.

See also:

1893 in Australian literature,

1894 in Australia,

1895 in Australian literature.

1896 in Australian literature

This article presents a list of the historical events and publications of Australian literature during 1896.

For an overview of world literature see 1896 in literature.

See also:

1895 in Australian literature,

1896 in Australia,

1897 in Australian literature.

Alice Cornwell

Alice Ann Cornwell (1 January 1852 – 7 January 1932) was a British goldmining industrialist and newspaper proprietor. She made her fortune from gold and floated her company on the London Stock Exchange. She was a confident business person investing in several companies including owning the Sunday Times

Dead Man's Curve (1928 film)

Dead Man's Curve is a 1928 American silent action film directed by Richard Rosson and starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Sally Blane and Charles Byer.It was given a British release in 1929.

Fergus (name)

Fergus or Feargus is a common Irish or Scottish male given name derived from Scots Gaelic, meaning the angry (one) or the wrathful (one).

As a surname, Ferguson or Fergusson is common across Scotland but particularly in Perthshire and Ayrshire. In Ireland, the Ferris family of County Kerry derives its surname from the patronymic Ó Fearghusa.

Hansom cab

The hansom cab is a kind of horse-drawn carriage designed and patented in 1834 by Joseph Hansom, an architect from York. The vehicle was developed and tested by Hansom in Hinckley, Leicestershire, England. Originally called the Hansom safety cab, it was designed to combine speed with safety, with a low centre of gravity for safe cornering. Hansom's original design was modified by John Chapman and several others to improve its practicability, but retained Hansom's name.Cab is a shortening of cabriolet, reflecting the design of the carriage. It replaced the hackney carriage as a vehicle for hire; with the introduction of clockwork mechanical taximeters to measure fares, the name became taxicab.

Hansom cabs enjoyed immense popularity as they were fast, light enough to be pulled by a single horse (making the journey cheaper than travelling in a larger four-wheel coach) and were agile enough to steer around horse-drawn vehicles in the notorious traffic jams of nineteenth-century London. There were up to 7500 hansom cabs in use at the height of their popularity and they quickly spread to other cities (such as Dublin) in the United Kingdom, as well as continental European cities, particularly Paris, Berlin, and St Petersburg. The cab was introduced to other British Empire cities and to the United States during the late 19th century, being most commonly used in New York City.

Hume (surname)

Hume (Home is an older variant spelling of Hume, still used for the senior branches of the family) is a Scottish surname that derives from Hume Castle, Berwickshire, and its adjacent estates. The name may refer to:

Abraham Hume (disambiguation)

Alexander Hume (1558–1609) Scottish poet

Allan Octavian Hume (1829-1912), British administrator in India

Andrew Hamilton Hume (1762-1849), Australian superintendent of convicts and farmer

Andrew Hume, Australian convict and leader of final failed attempted to rescue Leichhardt's expedition

Basil Hume (1923-1999), English Roman Catholic bishop, Archbishop of Westminster and cardinal

Benita Hume (1906-1967), British film actress

Bobby Hume (1941-1997), Scottish footballer

Brent Hume (born 1990), American Optometrist and Lieutenant in the United States Navy

Brit Hume (born 1943), American journalist best known for his work on Fox News

Caroline Howard Hume (a.k.a. Betty Hume) (1909-2008), American philanthropist and art collector

David Hume (disambiguation)

Donald Hume (rower) (1915-2001), American rower in the 1936 Olympics

Donald C. Hume (1907-1986), English badminton player

Fergus Hume (1859-1932), English novelist

Fred Hume (disambiguation)

Gary Hume, British artist

George Hume (disambiguation)

Hamilton Hume (1797-1873), Australian explorer

Hamish Hume (born 1968), American litigator

Iain Hume (born 1983), Scottish-Canadian footballer

Ian Hume (born 1948), Scottish footballer

Jaquelin H. Hume (a.k.a. Jack Hume) (1905-1991), American founder of Basic American Foods and conservative philanthropist

Jim Hume, Scottish politician

John Hume (disambiguation)

Joseph Hume (1777-1855), Scottish doctor and Member of Parliament

Leslie P. Hume, American historian and philanthropist

Martin Andrew Sharp Hume (1847-1910), English historian, born Martin Sharp (journalist)

Mick Hume (born 1959), British journalist, editor of Spiked Online Magazine

Patrick Hume (disambiguation)

Paul Hume (1915-2001), music critic for the Washington Post

Peter Hume (politician), Canadian politician

Rob Hume, English ornithological writer

Tobias Hume (1569?-1645), English composer, viola player and soldier

Walter Reginald Hume (1873–1943), Australian inventor and concrete pipe manufacturer

William Hume (disambiguation)

List of years in Australian literature

This page gives a chronological list of years in Australian literature (descending order), with notable publications and events listed with their respective years. The time covered in individual years covers the period of European settlement of the country.

See Table of years in literature for an overview of all "year in literature" pages.

Lucy Sussex

Lucy Sussex (born 1957 in New Zealand) is an author working in fantasy and science fiction, children’s and teenage writing, non-fiction and true crime. She is also an editor, reviewer, academic and teacher, and currently resides in Melbourne, Australia.

She is often associated with feminist science fiction, Australiana, the history of women’s writing, and detective fiction.

Otago Boys' High School

Otago Boys' High School (OBHS) is one of New Zealand's oldest boys' secondary schools, located in Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand. Originally known as Dunedin High School, it was founded on 3 August 1863 and moved to its present site in 1885. The main building was designed by Robert Lawson and is regarded as one of the finest Gothic revival structures in the country. Situated on high ground above central Dunedin it commands excellent views of the city and is a prominent landmark.

Otago Girls' High School now occupies the original site in Tennyson Street, closer to the centre of the city and is Otago Boys' sister school.

The school owns a lodge in Mount Aspiring National Park, and has regular field trips for students.

The Grand Babylon Hotel

The Grand Babylon Hotel is a novel by Arnold Bennett, published in January 1902, about the mysterious disappearance of a German prince. It originally appeared as a serial in the Golden Penny. The titular Grand Babylon was modelled on the Savoy Hotel which Bennett had much later also used as a model for his 1930 novel Imperial Palace.

In Bennett's journal entry on 18 January 1901, he also notes that said his serial was being advertised was the "best thing of this sort" they'd seen since The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume.

The Mystery of a Hansom Cab

The Mystery of a Hansom Cab is a mystery fiction novel by Australian writer Fergus Hume. The book was first published in Australia, in 1886. Set in Melbourne, the story focuses on the investigation of a homicide involving a body discovered in a hansom cab, as well as an exploration into the social class divide in the city. The book was successful in Australia, selling 100,000 copies in the first two print runs. It was then published in Britain and the United States, and went on to sell over 500,000 copies worldwide, outselling the first of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novels, A Study in Scarlet (1887).Reception of The Mystery of a Hansom Cab was positive; it received praise in works including A Companion to Crime Fiction, A History of the Book in Australia 1891–1945, and A History of Victoria, and was featured in the book Vintage Mystery and Detective Stories. A parody version was published in 1888, and film adaptations were produced in 1911, 1915, and 1925. The story was adapted into a BBC Radio serial in 1958, a stage play in 1990, a radio promotion in 1991, and a telemovie in 2012.

The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1915 film)

The Mystery of a Hansom Cab is a 1915 British silent crime film directed by Harold Weston and starring Milton Rosmer, Fay Temple and A.V. Bramble. It is an adaptation of Fergus Hume's 1886 novel of the same name.

The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1961 film)

The Mystery of a Hansom Cab is a 1961 Australian TV drama play based on Barry Pree's 1961 play adaptation of the novel by Fergus Hume.The play had just completed a 12-week run in Melbourne.

The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (2012 film)

The Mystery of a Hansom Cab is a 2012 Australian TV movie. It is an adaption of the 1886 novel of the same name.

The Other Person

The Other Person (Dutch: Onder spiritistischen dwang) is a 1921 Dutch-British silent mystery film directed by Maurits Binger and B.E. Doxat-Pratt. It was a co-production between a Dutch film company and a British film company.The film was based on a 1920 mystery novel called The Other Person which was written by Fergus Hume. Although Hume wrote a number of successful books from the late 19th century to the early 20th century, his main claim to fame is that one of his novels inspired Arthur Conan Doyle to write A Study in Scarlet in 1887, which marked the debut of Sherlock Holmes. Lead actress Zoe Palmer went on to star in Sweeney Todd (1928).

The Top Dog

The Top Dog is a 1918 British silent drama film directed by Arrigo Bocchi and starring Kenelm Foss, Mary Odette and Hayford Hobbs. It was made at Catford Studios.

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