Pipe Dreams: Popular Novelist's Own Story

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Written in 1936 and 1937, the 12 installments of the "Pipe Dreams" series appeared in the Empire News, Manchester, England, beginning with "The Birth of Fu Manchu" on  January 30, 1938. In these non-fiction articles, the author reminisces about  various events in his life, particularly as they related to a given episode or event in his fiction. It was perfectly in his nature, however, to sprinkle a little embellishment into his "non-fiction" accounts. In a sense, these are stream-of-consciousness pieces that he dashed off rather quickly.  They provide an unusual opportunity to read between the lines and get a real sense of Rohmer.

Three of the "Pipe Dreams" are available on this site. "The Birth of Fu Manchu" is an interesting balancing act. On the one hand, he wants to reveal his true feelings of respect and understanding of the Chinese. On the other, he can't help but be mysterious and embellish his encounters with them.

1. Quest of Romance, Mystery, and the Bizarre:
The Birth of Fu Manchu
January 30, 1938
2. The Potters Bar Zeppelin/
I Planned to Kill Hindenburg!
February 6, 1938
3. Dancing Girl of Egypt/
The Green Eyes of Bast
February 13, 1938
4. The Phantom Hound of Holm Peel February 20, 1938
5. Mysteries of Egypt/
In the False Pyramid
February 27, 1938
6. The Voodoo Shepherd/
Sign of Blue Candles
March 6, 1938
7. When Little Tich Walked Off March 13, 1938
8. "Breaking the Bank" at Monte Carlo* March 20, 1938
9. Were Houdini's Feats Supernatural?
(An Analysis of this piece)
March 27, 1938
10. Eager Old Lady of the Atlantic April 3, 1938
11. Nelson Keys and Captain Kettle April 10, 1938
12. On the Red Road to Aleppo/
Guests of a Wealthy Sheikh
April 17, 1938

*A separate short article, "Live Instruments of Villainy," was printed on the same page as the March 20th installment, but was not part of the "Pipe Dreams" series.

Go to the Titles of Sax Rohmer
Go to The Page of Fu Manchu

Copyright 1997, 1998 Lawrence Knapp. All rights reserved.


Drawn by Sax Rohmer and used in "The Black Mandarin."