'Set in the charming and deadly streets of Melbourne, this vivid and brilliantly plotted murder thriller tells the story of a crime committed by an unknown assassin. With its panoramic depiction of a bustling yet uneasy city, Hansom Cab has a central place in Australian literary history and, more importantly, it remains highly readable. ' (Publication summary)
Stage version of Fergus Hume's novel of the same name.
British adaptation of Fergus Hume's novel.
The second Australian film based on Fergus Hume's best-selling novel; the first had been released in 1911. (A British film had also been made in 1915.)
BBC radio adaptation of Fergus Hume's novel.
The second of two BBC radio adaptations of Fergus Hume's novel.
For episode titles, broadcast dates, and synopses, see Notes.
'The Mystery of a Hansom Cab is a tightly plotted murder thriller, a massive best seller that was a forerunner to Sherlock Holmes. As much a study of sophisticated 19th century Melbourne as it is of its captivating characters, The Mystery of a Hansom Cab is a compelling telemovie with a surprise ending that no-one will guess.'
Source: Burberry Productions website, http://www.burberry.com.au/
In Grateful Acknowledgement of
His Kind Encouragement to
'Crime fiction has many authors, very many readers, and also a number of myths. One is that the whole thing started with Poe, a view favored by those unaware of earlier authors who developed the form before the brilliant Philadelphian made myth out of mystery and detection. Another is that Raymond Chandler was a great popular private-eye author—in fact his first novel sold in sober hardback and he was always better-received among the English literati of his own origin, a context which gave class and confidence to his reshaping of Hammett's edgy populism. The myths also have it that Sara Paretsky was the first of the feminist mystery authors—in fact several others preceded her by a decade or more, but they have been effectively obscured by the firmness and flourish which in her Chandleresque way she brought to the form, or the anti-form. A negative myth is the topic of this chapter—why has no-one ever offered any explanation for the runaway success of the first novel by an author who went on to write many with nothing of the same success, who set it in far-away Melbourne, Australia, and yet saw his novel The Mystery of a Hansom Cab take London by bibliocommercial storm in very late 1887, so much so it gained the title of the first best-seller in crime fiction? Unlike Fergus Hume's more than a hundred other novels, 40 more years of mysteries and sensational stories, the book has almost always been in print, usually in a cheap format and occasionally with a short, gesturing introduction. It has been at times mentioned as a freak and very rarely described in very limited detail. There is now from the Melbourne scholar Lucy Sussex a full account of the context, production and promotion of the book, and it seems time it came in from the critical cold.' (Introduction)
'Before there was Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, there was Fergus Hume’s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab—the biggest- and fastest-selling detective novel of the 1800s, and Australia’s first literary blockbuster.
'Fergus Hume was an aspiring playwright when he moved from Dunedin to Melbourne in 1885. He wrote The Mystery of a Hansom Cab with the humble hope of bringing his name to the attention of theatre managers. The book sold out its first run almost instantly and it became a runaway word-of-mouth phenomenon—but its author sold the copyright for a mere fifty pounds, missing out on a potential fortune.
'Blockbuster! is the engrossing story of a book that would help define the genre of crime fiction, and a portrait of a great city in full bloom. Rigorously researched and full of arresting detail, this captivating book is a must-read for all fans of true crime, history and crime fiction alike.' (Publication summary)