Working name of Russian-born UK writer Alexander Nicholayevitch Romanoff (1881-1945), who adopted the name Achmed Abdullah Nadir Khan el-Durani el Iddrissyeh after his parents divorced; he wrote also as A A Nadir and John Hamilton. He was educated in India, the UK and France, served in the British Army, and became a resident of the USA, where most of his work first appeared. He is best-known for his novelization of The Thief of Bagdad (1924), The Thief of Bagdad * (1924) – featuring a wraparound dustwrapper by Willy Pogány – which he freely adapted from the original script by Elton Thomas and Lotta Woods. This rousing Arabian Fantasy is not typical of his work. Most of his stories and novels appeared first in the US pulp Magazines, where he rapidly established a wide readership for his contemporary Oriental and near-eastern adventure stories. All have good characterization and local colour, but there is usually only a hint of the fantastic, often involving Reincarnation and Fate, as in the stories in Alien Souls (coll 1922). A few are more overtly supernatural (see Supernatural Fiction), as in Wings: Tales of the Psychic (coll 1920), where evil Spirits and astral projection feature. These same themes emerge in his novels – The Mating of the Blades (1920) and The Flower of the Gods (1936), the latter written with Fulton Oursler (1893-1952). Few of AA's other novels are fantastic, though his early series The God of the Invincibly Strong Arms – three serials with that title (All-Story Weekly 1915-1916), of which only two appeared in book-form, as The Red Stain (1915) and The Blue-Eyed Manchu (1916) – about a fanatical cult of Kali worshippers, is redolent of Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu series. AA's peak was in the post-WWI decade; thereafter he concentrated more on romances and plays. [MA]
other works: Mysteries of Asia (coll 1935 UK).
as editor: Fifty Enthralling Stories of the Middle East (anth 1937 UK).
further reading: The Cat Had Nine Lives (1933; vt My Nine Lives 1934 UK), autobiography.
Alexander Nicholayevitch Romanoff