Author(s): Fergus Hume
Charming, intelligent and forthright, the remarkable Madame Midas makes her fortune on the goldfields of Ballarat-and becomes the target of the villainous ex-convict Gaston Vandeloup, a charismatic Frenchman who soon makes himself indispensable to her mining operations. A companion piece to The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, Fergus Hume's second novel is both a tightly plotted murder mystery and an insight into the heady days of the Golden City and Marvellous Melbourne.
Fergus Hume was born in England in 1859. His family soon immigrated to New Zealand, where Hume qualified as a lawyer. He was admitted to the bar in 1885 and moved to Melbourne in the same year. Desperate to become a playwright but having no success, Hume decided to write a murder novel instead. When he couldn't find a publisher for The Mystery of a Hansom Cab he published it himself. It was a sensation and sold over twenty thousand copies in Melbourne. With a hit on his hands, Hume sold his copyright to the Hansom Cab Publishing Company in London for fifty pounds. The book was a phenomenal success but Hume never saw another penny from his bestseller. It may have influenced Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes adventure. Hume moved back to England in 1888 after the publication of his second novel, Madame Midas. He embarked on a career that produced over 130 novels. He never became a famous playwright but he did co-write the theatrical adaptation of The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, which played in London for five hundred nights. The story was also filmed three times in the silent era. Fergus Hume died in 1932.