Fergus Hume (1859-1932) Ferguson Wright Hume was born in England. 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. Shortly after graduation he left for Melbourne where he obtained a post as a barrister's clerk. After failed attempts to become a playwright, he decided to write a novel instead. Not knowing what to write: "I enquired of a leading Melbourne bookseller what style of book he sold most of He replied that the detective stories of Gaboriau had a large sale; and as, at this time, I had never even heard of this author, I bought all his works - eleven or thereabouts - and read them carefully. The style of these stories attracted me, and I determined to write a book of the same class; containing a mystery, a murder, and a description of low life in Melbourne." The result was The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, which became a great success after he self-published. After the success of his first novel, Hume returned to England. He resided in London for few years and then he moved to the Essex countryside where he lived in Thundersley for thirty years.
"Fergus Hume delights in the complex. On the part of the reader it requires a great deal of attention to follow the peculiar actions of his characters. There always are detectives more or less clever who figure in this author's romances. The master rascal never is wanting. Mr. Richard Pratt is the genius of thieves. To his other capabilities of the skeleton key and jimmy kind he adds that of being a collector of rarities. He has stolen a cup, said to be old Roman, and, being a generous scoundrel, he presents the cup in lieu of a chalice to a church in Calchester, and Calchester is a little out-of-the-way English town. Because no one is likely to live in prosy Calchester, it is there that Pratt establishes himself in a queer old house--and he furnishes his abode with the nice pictures and the antique furniture he has stolen. The plot of the story depends on the purloining of the cup or chalice, for Leo Haverleigh, a rather weakminded young man, is believed to have stolen it." -The Literary News