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Sample Autograph Signature: Sax Rohmer

Prolific English novelist and short-story writer.

Sax Rohmer [Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward] was born Arthur Henry Ward in Birmingham, England, 15 February 1883 to Irish immigrant parents William Ward and Margaret Mary (nee Furey). Despite the handicap of no formal schooling until the age of nine or ten, young Arthur dreamt of becoming a writer from an early age. Over the years he adopted various pseudonyms but settled on Sax from the Saxon for Ďbladeí and Rohmer which meant Ďroamerí. His middle name was adopted based on his alchoholic motherís extravagant claim to being descended from the 17th C. Irish general, Patrick Sarsfield.

After finishing his schooling, Rohmer held various menial clerking jobs in Londonís East End until becoming a reporter for the Commercial Intelligence. An early interest in Egyptology, alchemy and mysticism spawned his first published work at age 20, The Mysterious Mummy, which appeared in Pearsonís Weekly in 1903. He continued to write short stories for the cheaper magazine and newspaper market and pieces for the theater and music hall, where he probably met Rose Elizabeth Knox, comedienne and juggler, who became his wife in 1909. For some reason, the couple lived with their separate parents for two years, keeping their marriage a secret from Roseís family.

In 1910 Rohmer published his first novel Pause!, and in 1913 the first Fu Manchu novel The Mystery of Dr. Fu Manchu, which introduced the sinister, evil and cunning oriental genius. The novel enjoyed immediate success, appealing to the xenophobia and, in particular, sinophobia currently rampant in London. Although the Chinese population concentrated in Londonís East End Limehouse district was small, it was widely considered to harbor mandarin warlords, opium-den keepers, murderers and occultists. News items reinforced and capitalized on this perceived ďyellow perilĒ and fueled the appetite for the exotic material which Rohmerís Fu-Manchu provided. The insidious Chinaman and his sadistic daughter, Fah Lo Suee, continued to battle the powers of Good embodied by Commissioner Smith and Dr. Petrie in the Return of Fu Manchu (1916) and the Hand of Fu Manchu {Si-Fan Mysteries}(1917), in which Fu-Manchuís original incarnation died.

After a long hiatus Fu Manchu returned in the guise of Daughter of Fu Manchu (1931), and until 1959 the evil character was to appear in various permutations, incarnations and alter egos. Rohmer also invented various other characters, including detective Gaston Max, who first appeared in the Yellow Claw (1915), psychic/ occultist detective Morris Klaw, sinister female master plotter, Sumuru, and detectives Paul Harley and Chief Inspector Red Kerry who debuted in Dope, A Story of Chinatown (1919), a drug smuggling thriller.

Rohmerís interest in the occult and mysticism led him to join the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, whose membership also boasted Alester Crowley and W.B. Yeats. These interests no doubt inspired some of the authorís other works about the supernatural and sorcery which included The Brood of the Witch Queen (1918), The Green Eyes of Bast (1920) and Grey Face(1924).

Rohmerís writings through the 30s brought him considerable financial success. He and his wife travelled extensively and built a house, Little Gatton, in Englandís Surrey countryside. However, Rohmer was a poor business manager and bad deals with publishers, an extravagant lifestyle and a weakness for gambling caused the Rohmers to suffer financial difficulties and periods of near poverty. He reportedly sold all his film, TV and radio rights in 1955 for more than 4 million dollars. After WWII they moved to New York City, and then Greenwich, CT before finally settling in White Plains, NY. Sax Rohmer died on June 1, 1959, of pneumonia and stroke, supposedly complications from a bout of Asian flu. Content provided by

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