The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume, Fiction, Classics, Mystery & Detective, Action & Adventure Cover Image

About the Author: Fergus Hume

Fergusson Wright Hume (1859–1932), English lawyer and prolific author spent a number of years in New Zealand and Australia where he began his career of more than thirty years writing detective stories, including his first novel and international best-seller The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1886).

Fergusson [Fergus] Wright Hume was born 8 July 1859 at Powick, Worcestershire, England, son of Glaswegian Dr. James Collin Hume, a steward at the Worcestershire Pauper Lunatic Asylum and his wife Mary Ferguson. In 1863 the Humes emigrated to New Zealand where James founded the first private mental hospital and Dunedin College. Young Fergus attended the Otago Boys' High School then went on to study law at Otago University. He followed up with articling in the attorney-general's office, called to the New Zealand bar in 1885.

In 1885 Hume moved to Melbourne. While he worked as a solicitors clerk he was bent on becoming a dramatist; but having only written a few short stories he was a virtual unknown. So as to gain the attentions of the theatre directors he asked a local bookseller what style of book he sold most. Emile Gaboriau's detective works were very popular and so Hume bought them all and studied them intently, thus turning his pen to writing his own style of crime novel and mystery.

Hume spent much time in Little Bourke Street to gather material and his first effort was The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1886), a worthy contibution to the genre. It is full of literary references and quotations; finely crafted complex characters and their sometimes ambiguous seeming interrelationships with the other suspects, deepening the whodunit angle. It is somewhat of an exposé of the then extremes in Melbourne society, which caused some controversy for a time. Hume had it published privately after it had been downright rudely rejected by a number of publishers. "Having completed the book, I tried to get it published, but everyone to whom I offered it refused even to look at the manuscript on the grounds that no Colonial could write anything worth reading." He had sold the publishing rights for £50, but still retained the dramatic rights which he soon profited from by the long Australian and London theatre runs.

Except for short trips to France, Switzerland and Italy, in 1888 Hume settled and stayed in Essex, England where he would remain for the rest of his life. His romance and Australian gold mining tale, Madame Midas was published in 1889. Miss Mephistopheles (1890), Aladdin in London (1892),The Secret Passage (1905), The Green Mummy (1908), High Water Mark (1911), The Master Mind (1919), The Moth Woman (1923), and The Last Straw (1932) were some of the many titles to follow The Mystery of a Hansom Cab.

Fergus Hume died of cardiac failure at his home in Rosemary, Grove Road, Thundersley, Essex, England on 11 July 1932.


The Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume, Fiction, Classics, Mystery & Detective, Action & Adventure Cover Image

Find the best price forThe Mystery of a Hansom Cab by Fergus Hume, Fiction, Classics, Mystery & Detective, Action & Adventure

Goodreads rating: 3.54

Paperback, Published in May 2008 by Aegypan

ISBN10: 160664095X | ISBN13: 9781606640951

Page count: 216

New Zealand lawyer and writer Fergus Hume achieved immediate, widespread attention for his first novel, The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, when it first appeared in 1886. This remarkable novel, when published in England, became more the talk of London than even Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet, issued soon thereafter. Hume's other detective novels included The Opal Serpent and The Silent House. A splash of chloroform . . . The drunken man was staggering -- but he was quite alive, when the thoughtful gentleman stumbled upon him in the thick Melbourne night, and hailed a cab to take him home. By the time the cabdriver was in the proper neighborhood and was turning around to ask directions, the cabbie discovered he was driving around an unconscious man . . . slumped forward with a chemical-soaked handkerchief tied around his mouth! Unconscious -- or dead!

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