Introduction to Talbot Mundy, by Brian Taves

Talbot Mundy was born in London in 1879 and raised according to constraining Victorian standards. However, he was a free-thinker and non-conformist from childhood, and ran away from home at age 16. Two years later, he was in India, where he aided famine relief and rode on horseback along the country’s northern frontiers. He spent four years in east Africa, alternating jobs for the government with such outlaw trades as poaching. Arriving in the United States in 1909, two years later he was selling stories and articles to magazines.
Mundy’s second book, King–of the Khyber Rifles (1917), told of a fabulous character, Yasmini, who tried to conquer India, and quickly became a classic for its combination of fantastic elements with adventure. It won Mundy a reputation as the successor to H. Rider Haggard and Rudyard Kipling–a comparison he found odious, since Mundy opposed Kipling’s jingoistic attitude toward colonialism. Native figures, especially Indians, often dominated Mundy’s novels, placed in the position of imparting eastern wisdom to Western characters.
Equally apparent even in this early writing was Mundy’s feminism; a believer in full equality between the sexes, his female characterizations were vivid and proactive. Mundy’s last great adventure came with a trip to Jerusalem in 1920, seeing the tumult of the time up close, and he wrote a series of novels about contemporary Arabia that advocated independence for the region from the British and French colonial rule.
He settled in San Diego, California, where he joined the Theosophical Society centered there. H.P. Blavatsky’s rendering of eastern teachings combined with Mundy’s own experiences as the fantastic increasingly dominating his fiction. While residing at the society, Mundy wrote the novels Om–The Secret of Ahbor Valley (1924) and The Devil’s Guard (1926), about the teachings of the “Masters” in India and Tibet, especially karma and reincarnation.
The theosophical influence was also evident as Mundy tried a new genre, historical novels, producing the classic series, Tros of Samothrace (1925-26), Queen Cleopatra (1929), and Purple Pirate (1935), books that raised a furor at the time for their critical interpretation of Rome and Julius Caesar. Talbot Mundy died suddenly in 1940, but his writing has continuously found new readers among succeeding generations, with over fifty reprints of his novels in the years since his death.

TalbotMundy.com is a website devoted to Talbot Mundy, mystical adventure, epics, books, essays, Theosophy, British Foreign Service, India, Australia, Africa, Robert E. Howard, Dorje the Daring, thunderbolts, Gobi desert, Atlantis, Nepal, Jimgrim, King of the Khyber Rifles, Gray Mahatma, Om the Secret of Ahbor Valley, Queen Cleopatra, Lud of Lunden, Helma, Praetor's Dungeon, Tros of Samothrace, Full Moon, Purple Pirate, Caves of Terror, Rung Ho!, Black Light, Bubble Reputation, Caesar Dies, Caves of Terror, C.I.D., Cock of the North, Devil's Guard, Diamonds See in the Dark, East and West, Eye of Zeitoon, Full Moon, Gunga Sahib, Guns of the Gods, Gup-bahadur, Her Reputation, Hira Singh's Tale, Hundred Days, Woman Ayisha, I Say Sunrise, Ivory Trail, Allah's Peace, Jungle Jest, King in Check, Lion of Petra, Lost Trooper, Marriage of Meldrum Strange, Mystery of Khufu's Tomb, Nine Unknown, Old Ugly Face, Purple Pirate, Ramsden, Red Flame of Erinpura, Romances of India, Rung Ho, Seventeen Thieves of El Kalil, Soul of a Regiment, There Was a Door, Thunder Dragon Gate, Told East, Valient View, When Trails Were New, Winds of the World, Pigsticking in India, Single-handed Yachting, Phantom Battery, Blooding of the Ninth Queen's Own, For Valour, Chaplain of the Mullingars, and many other things related.


COMPILED BY BRIAN TAVES