Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward was an English music hall sketch and song writer who took the pen name Sax Rohmer when he began to write thrillers for the British serial magazines. He wrote a number of stories with occult and Egyptian themes, including In the Valley of the Sorceress, which was collected in Tales of Secret Egypt in 1918. But Rohmer’s greatest success was with his series of stories of Fu Manchu, the villainous oriental mastermind, which capitalized on the European “yellow peril” fears in the wake of the Chinese revolution in 1911. Rohmer’s first Fu Manchu story was serialized in 1912, and the character was eventually featured in fifteen of Rohmer’s books, and later in radio dramas, movies, television and comics. Sax Rohmer’s work was never well-respected by literary critics, yet during the 1920s and ’30s he was one of the most popular writers in the English language, and in 1955 sold the media rights to Fu Manchu for four million dollars.

illustrations ©2005 J.B. Bonivert