Wold Newton family

The Wold Newton family is a literary concept derived from a form of crossover fiction developed by the American science fiction writer Philip José Farmer.

Origins of the WN family

In real life a meteorite, called the Wold Cottage meteorite, fell near Wold Newton, Yorkshire, England, on December 13, 1795. Farmer suggested in two fictional biographies, Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke (1972) and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (1973) that this meteorite caused genetic mutations in the occupants of two passing coaches due to ionization. Many of their descendants were thus endowed with extremely high intelligence and strength, as well as an exceptional capacity and drive to perform good or, as the case may be, evil deeds. The progeny of these travellers are purported to have been the real-life originals of fictionalised characters, both heroic and villainous, over the last few hundred years.

Members of the WN family

As well as Tarzan and Doc Savage, both Lord Peter Wimsey and Sherlock Holmes are descendants of the original families. Other popular characters included by Farmer as members of the Wold Newton family are Solomon Kane; Captain Blood; The Scarlet Pimpernel; Sherlock Holmes's nemesis Professor Moriarty; Phileas Fogg; The Time Traveller (main character of The Time Machine by H. G. Wells); Allan Quatermain; A. J. Raffles; Professor Challenger; Richard Hannay; Bulldog Drummond; the evil Fu Manchu and his adversary, Sir Denis Nayland Smith; G-8; The Shadow; Sam Spade; Doc Savage's cousin Patricia Savage and one of his five assistants, Monk Mayfair; The Spider; Nero Wolfe; Mr. Moto; The Avenger; Philip Marlowe; James Bond; Lew Archer; Travis McGee; Monsieur Lecoq; and Arsène Lupin.

The Wold Newton Universe

The Wold Newton Universe (or WNU) is a term coined by Win Scott Eckert to denote an expansion of Philip José Farmer's original Wold Newton Family concept (introduced in Tarzan Alive [1972]). Eckert introduced the term in 1997 on his website, An Expansion of Philip José Farmer's Wold Newton Universe.[1] Eckert and others use Farmer's concept of the Wold Newton Family as a unifying device and expands the universe that the Wold Newton Family inhabits by: including essays in the vein of the Sherlockian "Game," in which theories are proposed and supported by supplying contextual background information and persuasive argument; by writing fiction authorized by Farmer and Farmer's Estate which adds elements and characters to the Wold Newton Family and/or the WNU; by writing other fiction which contains "Easter egg" references to the Wold Newton Family or the WNU, or which otherwise expands the overall mythos; and by documenting crossovers between fictional characters from various media and genres.

Characters incorporated into the WNU are not necessarily blood relatives, descendants, or ancestors of the coach travelers present at the 1795 Wold Cottage meteor strike, but these characters all exist in the same shared fictional universe. Farmer himself penned a number of stories and novels set in what is now termed the Wold Newton Universe; not all characters in Farmer's Wold Newton fiction are core members of the Wold Newton Family, but all are linked into the larger WNU via connections with Farmer's primary Wold Newton Family works, Tarzan Alive and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life.[2]

Depowering superheroes

Among the membership of the WNU are comic book superheroes and supervillains whose published exploits, by their very nature, often prove difficult to reconcile with Farmer's original framework. But WNU’s root conceit has always been that characters known by the reader as fictional actually lived or are yet living, with their adventures based on true events embroidered by the genre authors who serve as their "biographers." Therefore, in order for aspects of larger fictional universes to adhere to WNU’s overall continuity and believability, certain accounts of these new characters' lives have been labeled as a distortion of actual events or dismissed as complete fabrication.

Additional genres

Eckert and other post-Farmerian authors—admirers of Farmer's Wold Newton biographies and fiction who write in Eckert’s vein—have published numerous further fictional characters in many literary styles and media, including works emulating the aesthetics of the Renaissance, Romantic and Victorian eras; such subgenres of prose fiction as Gothic and steampunk; the fairy tale, mythology and folklore categories of traditional stories; publication formats like the graphic novel, the comic book, the pulp magazine and the penny dreadful; and the non-print media of motion pictures, television shows, radio programs and video games.

WNU references

The expanded WNU is documented in articles by WNU experts on the various WNU-themed websites; in Myths for the Modern Age: Philip José Farmer's Wold Newton Universe (edited by Win Scott Eckert, MonkeyBrain Books, 2005, a 2007 Locus Award finalist[3]); in various issues of Farmerphile: The Magazine of Philip José Farmer,[4] the prozine dedicated to and authorized by Farmer and published by Michael Croteau, webmaster of the Official Philip José Farmer Home Page [1]; and in various stories, novellas, and novels authorized by Farmer or by Farmer's Estate, such as Tales of the Wold Newton Universe (edited by Win Scott Eckert and Christopher Paul Carey, Titan Books, 2013) and various books published by Meteor House.[5]

Going beyond the WNU is Eckert's Crossover Universe, published in book form by Black Coat Press in two volumes in 2010 as Crossovers: A Secret Chronology of the World, in which a massive continuity is created in a "six degrees" game of linked crossover stories. Eckert's Crossover Universe work is being carried forward by Sean Levin.[6] The important distinction between a Wold Newton story and a crossover story is discussed at length by Eckert and Carey in their introduction to Tales of the Wold Newton Universe.[7]

List of Works

  • Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke (1972)
  • Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life (1973)
  • The Other Log of Phileas Fogg (1973)
  • Myths for the Modern Age: Philip José Farmer's Wold Newton Universe (edited by Win Scott Eckert, 2005)
  • Crossovers: A Secret Chronology of the World Parts 1 and 2 (2010)
  • Tales of the Wold Newton Universe (edited by Win Scott Eckert and Christopher Paul Carey, 2013)
  • Farmerphile: The Magazine of Philip José Farmer

Similar creations

An earlier proponent of this sort of fiction was William S. Baring-Gould, who wrote a fictional biography of Sherlock Holmes entitled Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street.[8]

In 1977 C. W. Scott-Giles, an expert in heraldry who served as Fitzalan Pursuivant of Arms Extraordinary,[9] published a history of Lord Peter Wimsey's family, going back to 1066 (but describing the loss of the family tree going back to Adam and Eve); the book is based on material from Scott-Giles's correspondence with Dorothy L. Sayers, who wrote at least two of the family anecdotes in the book, one of them in mediaeval French. For details, see Duke of Denver.

Warren Ellis's comic book series Planetary has a similar premise of fitting many different superhero, science fiction, and fantasy elements into the same universe. (For the most part, constrained by the needs of the story and copyright, Ellis does not use the originals but rather his own re-interpretations of the archetypes).

Author Kim Newman has stated that his Anno Dracula series was partially inspired by the Wold Newton family.[10]

The anthology series Tales of the Shadowmen edited by Jean-Marc Lofficier is also based on the Wold Newton concept and includes characters from French literature.

Alan Moore did likewise in his The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic book (and its sequels), in which various Victorian-era literary characters meet and join the eponymous League (though they are not descended from a single family). Over the course of the series, the world of the League incorporates many works of fiction from many different eras – not just Victorian literature – into its universe. Moore calls the Wold Newton stories "a seminal influence upon the League".[11]


  1. ^ "An Expansion of Philip José Farmer's Wold Newton Universe". Pjfarmer.com. 2010-01-24. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  2. ^ Win Scott Eckert's Wold Newton Universe website. Accessed January 18, 2008
  3. ^ "Locus Online News: 2007 Locus Awards Finalists". Locusmag.com. 2007-04-20. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  4. ^ "The Official Philip José Farmer Home Page - Farmerphile". Pjfarmer.com. Archived from the original on 2008-01-20. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  5. ^ Meteor House: Our Books. Accessed August 21, 2015
  6. ^ The Crossover Universe. Accessed August 21, 2015
  7. ^ "SF Signal: Read the Introduction from TALES OF THE WOLD NEWTON UNIVERSE Edited by Win Scott Eckert and Christopher Paul Carey". sfsignal.com. Retrieved 2015-08-21.
  8. ^ Sherlockian.Net: William S. Baring-Gould
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 41163. p. 5101. 30 August 1957
  10. ^ Anno Dracula: The Background
  11. ^ Mondo Moore: Sinclair's Norton & Remembering Farmer

External links

A. J. Raffles (character)

Arthur J. Raffles is a character created in the 1890s by E. W. Hornung, brother-in-law to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes. Raffles is, in many ways, a deliberate inversion of Holmes – he is a "gentleman thief", living at the Albany, a prestigious address in London, playing cricket for the Gentlemen of England and supporting himself by carrying out ingenious burglaries. He is called the "Amateur Cracksman", and often, at first, differentiates between himself and the "professors" – professional criminals from the lower classes.

As Holmes has Dr. Watson to chronicle his adventures, Raffles has Harry "Bunny" Manders – a former schoolmate saved from disgrace and suicide by Raffles, whom Raffles persuaded to accompany him on a burglary. While Raffles often takes advantage of Manders' relative innocence, and sometimes treats him with a certain amount of contempt, he knows that Manders' bravery and loyalty are to be relied on utterly. In several stories, Manders saves the day for the two of them after Raffles gets into situations he cannot get out of on his own.

One of the things that Raffles has in common with Holmes is a mastery of disguise – during his days as an ostensible man-about-town, he maintains a studio apartment in another name in which he keeps the components of various disguises. He can imitate the regional speech of many parts of Britain flawlessly, and is fluent in Italian.

A Feast Unknown

A Feast Unknown is a novel written by American author Philip José Farmer. The novel is a pastiche of pulp fiction, erotica, and horror fiction. It was originally published in 1969, and was followed by two sequels, Lord of the Trees and The Mad Goblin.

The book contains many elements in common with Farmer's Wold Newton family concept, but there is some dispute as to whether it actually takes place in the same setting with Farmer's other Wold Newton fiction. In addition, the novel is infamous for its graphic depictions of sex and violence, and especially the combination of the two.

Anno Dracula

Anno Dracula is a 1992 novel by British writer Kim Newman, the first in the Anno Dracula series. It is an alternate history using 19th-century English historical settings and personalities, along with characters from popular fiction. The interplay between humans who have chosen to "turn" into vampires and those who are "warm" (humans) is the backdrop for the plot which tracks Jack the Ripper's politically charged destruction of vampire prostitutes. The reader is alternately and sympathetically introduced to various points of view. The main characters are Jack the Ripper, and his hunters Charles Beauregard (an agent of the Diogenes Club), and Geneviève Dieudonné, an elder vampire. The two other main point of views are Captain Kostaki, a sympathetic elder vampire warrior of Dracula's Carpathian Guard, and Lord Godalming, ambitious, scheming aide of Prime Minister Ruthven.

Anno Dracula series

The Anno Dracula series by Kim Newman—named after Anno Dracula (1992), the series' first novel—is a work of fantasy depicting an alternate history in which the heroes of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula fail to stop Count Dracula's conquest of Great Britain, resulting in a world where vampires are common and increasingly dominant in society. While Dracula is a central figure in the events of the series, he is a minor character in the books themselves, and usually appears in only a few climactic pages of each book. While many of the characters from Newman's Diogenes Club stories appear in the Anno Dracula novels, they are not the same versions as appear in those stories, nor is the Diogenes Club itself exactly the same.

The series is known for its carefully researched historical settings and the author's use as supporting characters of both historical people and fictional characters of the appropriate period. The metafictional style was inspired by the Wold Newton Universe of Philip José Farmer, and Neil Gaiman helped develop the series (and was originally going to be its co-author). Gaiman has also credited the series as being one of the main influences on his short story "A Study in Emerald".Entries in the series have won the Dracula Society's Children of the Night Award, the Lord Ruthven Award and the International Horror Guild Award, and have been short-listed for the Bram Stoker Award and the Sidewise Award for Alternate History.

The series currently consists of five novels and a number of short stories and novellas. The author is currently contracted for a sixth book.

Dracula Cha Cha Cha

Dracula Cha Cha Cha (re-titled Judgment of Tears in the U.S.) is an alternate history/horror novel by British writer Kim Newman. Published in 1998, it is the third book in the Anno Dracula series.

Lord of the Trees

Lord of the Trees is an American novel by Philip José Farmer. Originally released in 1970, it was one of two intertwining sequels to Farmer's previous A Feast Unknown, along with The Mad Goblin. Lord of the Trees features Lord Grandrith, an analogue (or Tarzanalogue, if you will) of Tarzan, as the main character.

Madame Atomos

Madame Atomos is the name of a fictional villain who appears in a book series of novels written by French writer André Caroff, a prolific author of popular adventure series, many of which include science fiction and horror elements.


The Nyctalope, real name Léo Saint-Clair, is a pulp fiction hero created by French writer Jean de La Hire in 1911. He may be the first cyborg (an individual with both organic and mechanical body parts) in literature and is seen as a significant precursor to the superhero genre. The character has an artificial heart and powers such as excellent night vision, which is the source of his name.

Peter Coogan

Peter M. Coogan () is the director of the Institute for Comics Studies and co-founder and co-chair of the Comics Arts Conference, which runs during the San Diego Comic-Con International and San Francisco WonderCon.

Raffles stories and adaptations

Arthur J. Raffles is a British fictional character – a cricketer and gentleman thief – created by E. W. Hornung, who, between 1898 and 1909, wrote a series of 26 short stories, two plays, and a novel about him and his fictional chronicler, Harry "Bunny" Manders.

The first story, "The Ides of March", appeared in the June 1898 edition of Cassell's Magazine. The early adventures were collected in The Amateur Cracksman and continued with The Black Mask (1901). The last collection, A Thief in the Night (1904) and the novel Mr. Justice Raffles (1909) tell of adventures previously withheld. The novel was poorly received, and no further stories were published.Hornung dedicated the first collection of stories, The Amateur Cracksman, to his brother-in-law, Arthur Conan Doyle, intending Raffles as a "form of flattery." In contrast to Conan Doyle's Holmes and Watson, Raffles and Bunny are "something dark, morally uncertain, yet convincingly, reassuringly English."

I think I may claim that his famous character Raffles was a kind of inversion of Sherlock Holmes, Bunny playing Watson. He admits as much in his kindly dedication. I think there are few finer examples of short-story writing in our language than these, though I confess I think they are rather dangerous in their suggestion. I told him so before he put pen to paper, and the result has, I fear, borne me out. You must not make the criminal a hero.

Raffles is an antihero. Although a thief, he "never steals from his hosts, he helps old friends in trouble, and in a subsequent volume he may or may not die on the veldt during the Boer War." Additionally, the "recognition of the problems of the distribution of wealth is [a] recurrent subtext" throughout the stories.According to the Strand Magazine, these stories made Raffles "the second most popular fictional character of the time," behind Sherlock Holmes. They have been adapted to film, television, stage, and radio, with the first appearing in 1903.

Sherlock Holmes's War of the Worlds

Sherlock Holmes's War of the Worlds is a sequel to H. G. Wells's science fiction novel The War of the Worlds, written by Manly Wade Wellman and his son Wade Wellman, and published in 1975. It is a pastiche crossover which combines H. G. Wells's extraterrestrial invasion story with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and Professor Challenger stories. The book is composed of stories originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

Sherlockian game

The Sherlockian game (also known as the Holmesian game, the Great Game or simply the Game) is the pastime of attempting to resolve anomalies and clarify implied details about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson from the 56 short stories and four novels that make up the Sherlock Holmes Canon by Arthur Conan Doyle. It treats Holmes and Watson as real people and uses aspects of the canonical stories combined with the history of the era of the tales' settings to construct fanciful biographies of the pair.

The Adventure of the Peerless Peer

The Adventure of the Peerless Peer is a 1974 adventure pastiche novel written by Philip Jose Farmer, writing as Dr. John H. Watson, about the meeting of Sherlock Holmes and Tarzan. This was one of several works Farmer wrote that involved Tarzan.

The Bloody Red Baron

The Bloody Red Baron is a 1995 Alternate history/horror novel by British author Kim Newman. It is the second book in the Anno Dracula series and takes place during the Great War, 30 years after the first novel.

The Mad Goblin

The Mad Goblin is an American novel by Philip José Farmer. Originally released in 1970, it was one of two intertwining sequels to Farmer's previous A Feast Unknown, along with Lord of the Trees. The Mad Goblin features Doc Caliban, an analogue of Doc Savage, as the main character.

The Other Log of Phileas Fogg

The Other Log of Phileas Fogg is a science fiction/steampunk parallel history novel written by American author Philip José Farmer in 1973. It was originally published by DAW Books and later reprinted in 1979 by Hamlyn and again in 1982 by Tor Books. Tor has subsequently reissued the novel in 1988 and 1993.

Win Scott Eckert

Win Scott Eckert is an author and editor, best known for his work on the literary-crossover Wold Newton Universe, created by author Philip José Farmer, but much expanded-upon subsequently by Eckert and others. He holds a B.A. in Anthropology and a Juris Doctorate.

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