Sax Rohmer

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Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward (15 February 1883 - 1 June 1959), better known as Sax Rohmer, was a prolific English novelist. He is best remembered for his series of novels featuring the master criminal Dr. Fu Manchu.

Contents

Life and work

Born in Birmingham to a working class family, Rohmer initially pursued a career as a civil servant before concentrating on writing full-time.

He worked as a poet, songwriter, and comedy sketch writer in Music Hall before creating the Sax Rohmer persona and pursuing a career writing weird fiction.

Like his contemporaries Algernon Blackwood and Arthur Machen, Rohmer claimed membership to one of the factions of the qabbalistic Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. [2] Rohmer also claimed ties to the Rosicrucians, but the validity of his claims has been questioned. His physican and family friend, Dr. R. Watson Councell may have been his only legitimate connection to such organizations. It is believed that Rohmer may have exaggerated his association in order to boost his literary reputation as an occult writer.

His first published work came in 1903, when the short story The Mysterious Mummy was sold to Pearson's Weekly. He gradually transitioned from writing for Music Hall performers to concentrating on short stories and serials for magazine publication. In 1909 he married Rose Elizabeth Knox.

He published his first novel Pause! anonymously in 1910 and the first Fu Manchu novel, The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu, was serialized from October 1912 - June 1913. It was an immediate success with its fast-paced story of Denis Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie facing the worldwide conspiracy of the 'Yellow Peril'. The Fu Manchu stories, together with his more conventional detective series characters—Paul Harley, Gaston Max, Red Kerry, Morris Klaw, and The Crime Magnet—made Rohmer one of the most successful and well-paid authors of the 1920s and 1930s.

Rohmer also wrote several novels of supernatural horror, including Brood of the Witch-Queen. [3] Sadly, Rohmer was very poor at managing his wealth and made several disastrous business decisions that hampered him througout his career. His final success came with a series of novels featuring a female variation on Fu Manchu, Sumuru.

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