Author(s): Fergus Hume
Fergus Hume's sensational novel The Mystery of a Hansom Cab is Australia's original blockbuster and international best-selling crime novel. First published in 1886, it was an overnight sensation, selling hundreds of thousands of copies around the world and being translated into eleven languages. Over a century later, Hansom Cab has lost none of its page-turning power. Set in the charming and deadly streets of Melbourne, this vivid and brilliantly plotted murder thriller tells the story of a crime committed by an unknown assassin. With its panoramic depiction of a bustling yet uneasy city, Hansom Cab has a central place in Australian literary history and, more importantly, it remains highly readable.
Fergus Hume was born in England in 1859. His family soon immigrated to New Zealand, where Hume qualified as a lawyer. He was admitted to the bar in 1885 and moved to Melbourne in the same year. Desperate to become a playwright but having no success, Hume decided to write a murder novel instead. When he couldn't find a publisher for The Mystery of a Hansom Cab he published it himself. It was a sensation and sold over twenty thousand copies in Melbourne. With a hit on his hands, Hume sold his copyright to the Hansom Cab Publishing Company in London for fifty pounds. The book was a phenomenal success but Hume never saw another penny from his bestseller. It may have influenced Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes adventure. Hume moved back to England in 1888 after the publication of his second novel, Madame Midas. He embarked on a career that produced over 130 novels. He never became a famous playwright but he did co-write the theatrical adaptation of The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, which played in London for five hundred nights. The story was also filmed three times in the silent era. Fergus Hume died in 1932.