Authors Who Made History: Sax Rohmer

Today marks the birth anniversary of the writer known as Sax Rohmer. You might be familiar with the characters he created in his Dr. Fu Manchu stories. These have inspired comic book stories, radio, film and television works. He was born Arthur Henry Ward in Birmingham, England on 15th February 1883, of a working-class family of Irish immigrant descendency. He died during an outbreak of ‘Asian flu’ on 1st June 1959. He and his wife moved to New York after the ending of what some call ‘World War 2’ and didn’t return to London until shortly before his death. He is reported to have died in New York.

As often the apparent case, the wikipedia article for this writer contains some potentially derogatorising slants that may or may not be true. Formalist academia tends to perpetuate a propoganda wheel, perhaps unintentionally, effectively undermining a writer’s work by defamating remark / character assassination. These include criticisms of ‘racism’, though as I have not yet read any of his writing so I can neither confirm nor repudiate such assessment. It is also remarked that his name was added to the Nazi regimes list of banned authors in 1933. (It appears not to be found on the wikipedia link to that article).

Arthur Henry Ward had worked for a time as a civil servant prior to his career as a popular novelist. His legend divulges roots in the music hall tradition, comedy and poetry. He was first published by the magazine ‘Pearson’s Weekly’ in 1903 with his short story ‘The Mysterious Mummy’. He is said to have published anonymously in 1910 a novel titled ‘Pause!’ and the Goodreads website lists him as also having used the pseudonym of ‘Michael Furey’ alrhough that appears to be dubious and I haven’t time for fact-checking.

I’m sharing with you a brief introduction to this writer while I explore him for the first time – one of the things I’ve enjoyed most taking part in these #authorstory posts is setting out on a learning journey of discovery and exploration.

You can find out more online or maybe have something to share from your own knowledge or experiences of Sax Rohmer’s work. A full list of his writings for further discovery can be found at:

The Gutenberg Project has several files of Sax Rohmer’s novels available to read online. I’m hoping to read ‘Bat Wing’ (published by Cassell, London in 1921) from where I bring you this short extract :

Paul Harley occupied a unique place in the maelstrom of vice and ambition which is sometimes called London life. Whilst at present he held no official post, some of the most momentous problems of British policy during the past five years, problems imperilling inter-state relationships and not infrequently threatening a renewal of the world war, had owed their solution to the peculiar genius of this man.

Source: (for online reading the web version, ebook 6382)