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The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (book)

  • Type: Novel
  • Length: 260 pages

Truth is said to be stranger than fiction, and certainly the extraordinary murder which took place in Melbourne on Thursday night, or rather Friday morning, goes a long way towards verifying this saying. A crime has been committed by an unknown assassin, within a short distance of the principal streets of this great city, and is surrounded by an impenetrable mystery. Indeed, from the nature of the crime itself, the place where it was committed, and the fact that the assassin has escaped without leaving a trace behind him, it would seem as though the case itself had been taken bodily from one of Gaboreau's novels, and that his famous detective Lecoq alone would be able to unravel it.The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, Fergus Hume

The Mystery of a Hansom Cab is a 1886 novel by New Zealand author Fergus Hume. The murder mystery is the most commercially successful detective novel of the 19th and early 20th century. - AsNotedIn

My mind made up on this point, 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. This was the origin of the "Cab." The central idea ie the murder in a cab - came to me while driving at a late hour to St Kilda, a suburb of Melbourne; but it took some time and much thought to work it out to a logical conclusion. I was two months sketching out the skeleton of the novel, but even so, when I had written it, the result proved unsatisfactory, for I found I had not sufficiently well concealed the mystery upon which the whole interest of the book depended.... All the scenes in the book, especially the slums, are described from personal observation; and I passed a great many nights in Little Bourke Street, gathering material.Fergus Hume, Preface to he revised edition of The Mystery of a Hansom Cab

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  • Melbourne, AU, Victoria A hansom cab drove up to the police station in Grey Street, St Kilda, and the driver made the startling statement that his cab contained the body of a man who he had reason to believe had been murdered.


Y/M/D Association Description Place Locale Food Event
1886/00/00 Fergus Hume Author Fergus Hume self-publishes his first novel, The Mystery of a Hansom Cab. "some five thousand copies was brought out at my own cost. Contrary to the expectations of the publishers, and I must add to my own, the whole edition went off in three weeks." FH
1887/00/00 Fergus Hume Author I parted with the book to several speculators, who formed themselves into what they called 'The Hansom Cab Publishing Co.' Taking the book to London, they published it there with great success, and it had a phenomenal sale. - FM
1888/00/00 The Illustrated London News Reporter Persons were found everywhere eagerly devouring the realistic sensational tale of Melbourne social life. Whether travelling by road, rail or river the unpretending little volume was ever present in some companion's or stranger's hands. - ILN
1888/00/00 G Munro Publisher "The Mystery of a Hansom Cab" by Fergus Hume is published in the United States by G Munro.
1898/00/00 Fergus Hume Author All I received for the English and American rights, previous to the issue of this Revised Edition by my present publishers, was the sum of fifty pounds. - FH
1935/00/00 By the time of Fergus Hume's death, 750,000 copies of "The Mystery of a Hansom Cab" had been printed, half that number within six months of its 1887 publication in London.

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Particulars for The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (book):
Art Type Book a written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers.
Narrative Arts Fiction prose literature, especially short stories and novels, that describes imaginary events and people
Vehicle Hansom Cab nimble, 2 wheeled horse-drawn carriage accommodating two inside, with the driver seated behind, named after its founder A J Hansom.
Narrative Arts Murder the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another
Narrative Arts Mystery something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain
Art Type Novel long form fiction narrative that is at least 40,000 words in length

Original Language: English

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