(1867-1905) Australian-born writer, in the UK from 1894. The Dr Nikola series – A Bid for Fortune (1895; rev vt Dr Nikola's Vendetta 1908 US), Doctor Nikola (1896), Dr Nikola's Experiment (1899) and "Farewell, Nikola" (1901) – are thrillers in which the sinister, mysteriously gifted occultist Nikola searches for the secret of Immortality, giving short shrift to those who get in his way; he also plays a peripheral role in The Lust of Hate (1898). Pharos the Egyptian: A Romance (1899) is a more exotic thriller whose similarly enigmatic central character seemingly brings off the difficult trick of achieving immortality while also existing as a Mummy. "A Professor of Egyptology" in The Lady of the Island (coll 1903) is a Reincarnation romance; the other weird tales in that volume, like those in Bushigrams (coll 1897) and Uncle Joe's Legacy and Other Stories (coll 1902), are trivial. GB very obviously made his novel plots up as he went along – which is why the most interesting of them, The Curse of the Snake (1902), concludes with a woefully inadequate explanation of its marvellously creepy opening sequence. [BS]
other works: The Phantom Stockman (1897 chap).
Guy Newell Boothby