Cover of a 1907 New York publication of The Silent House
Fergusson Wright Hume, known as Fergus Hume (8 July 1859 – 12 July 1932) was an English novelist.
Hume was born in England, the second son of Dr James Hume. At the age of three his father emigrated with his family to New Zealand. He attended high school in Dunedin and studied law at the University of Otago, he was admitted to the New Zealand bar in 1885. Shortly after graduation he left for Melbourne, Australia where he obtained a post as a barrister's clerk. He began writing plays, but found it impossible to persuade the managers of the Melbourne theatres to accept or even read them.
Rise to fame
Finding that the novels of Émile Gaboriau were then very popular in Melbourne, he obtained and read a set of them and determined to write a novel of a similar kind. The result was the self-published novel The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1886), which became a great success. He based his descriptions of low life on his knowledge of Little Bourke Street. He sold the English and American rights to the novel for fifty pounds, and thus derived little benefit from its success.
After the success of his first novel and the publication of another, Professor Brankel's Secret (c.1886), Hume returned to England in 1888. He resided in London for few years and then he moved to the Essex countryside where he lived in Thundersley for thirty years, eventually producing over 100 novels and short stories. He continued to be anxious for success as a dramatist, and at one time Henry Irving was favourably considering one of his plays, but he died before it could be produced. Hume did not court publicity and little is known of his personal life. The writer of the obituary notice in The Times stated that he was a deeply religious man who in his last years did much lecturing to young people's clubs and debating societies. He died at Thundersley, Essex, on 12 July 1932.
Hume was a capable writer of mystery stories, and may be looked upon as one of the precursors of the many writers of detective stories whose work was so popular in the twentieth century.
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