Fergus Hume was a prolific English author, having written more than 100 novels and short stories at his death. His father, Glaswegian Dr. James Hume, moved the family to New Zealand when Fergus was 3 years old. Fergus studied law and was admitted to the New Zealand bar in 1885. Shortly after he moved to Melbourne Australia where he took a job as a barrister’s clerk and began writing plays. Not being able to sell a play he turned to novels.
He asked a leading bookseller what type of stories sold the most and was told detective stories, specifically those of Emile Gaboriau. So he promptly bought all 11 of the novels by Gaboriau, read them and determined to write the same type of book. The Mystery of the Hansom Cab was his first novel, self-published. It was a great success. Fast becoming the best selling mystery novel of the Victorian era. It is said this novel inspired Arthur Conan Doyle to write A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes novel.
After the publication of his second novel, Professor Brankel’s Secret, Hume moved back to England in 1888. Living in London for a few years and then moving to the countryside, where he lived in Thundersley for 30 yrs. until his death in 1932.
Not much is known about his personal life. No mention of a wife or children. His obituary stated that he was a very religious man and did a lot of lecturing to young people’s clubs and debate societies in his later years. He passed shortly after finishing The Last Straw, (how appropriate!) which is extremely rare to come by now.
There were 3 movie adaptions done of The Mystery of the Hansom Cab, a play, a BBC serial and one made for television movie.
Online Literature has a nice biography of Fergus Hume.