Talbot Mundy: Messenger of Destiny

Sunday , 22, December 2019 3 Comments

The third bio-bibliography book in this series is Talbot Mundy: Messenger of Destiny compiled by Donald M. Grant. Talbot Mundy is one of the great writers for Adventure magazine in the 1910s and 20s. He had the Jimgrim series, about a British agent in India ferreting out skullduggery. Tros of Samothrace was a series in the middle 1920s that ran in Adventure. Tros crossed swords and minds against Julius Caesar in a series of novellas and a short novel. Robert E. Howard probably read the series. Fritz Leiber and H. Warner Munn most definitely did read the series.

Talbot Mundy was born William Lancaster Gribbon in Middlesex, England in 1879. He died in 1940. Gribbon was something of a rapscallion in Africa and other places causing the name change when he arrived in the U.S. He used his travels to good effect quickly becoming one of Arthur Sullivant Hoffman’s main writers for the pulp magazine, Adventure.

Talbot Mundy: Messenger of Destiny was published by Donald M. Grant Books in 1983. Cover art for the dust jacket is by Ned Dameron. It is 253 pages and sold for $20.00 at the time.

Contents

Introduction by Donald M. Grant

Autobiography

“Willie– Rogue and Rebel” by Peter Berresford Ellis

“Talbot Mundy” by Dawn Mundy Provost

“Ghosts Walk” . . . by Darrel Crombie

Talbot Mundy in Adventure

“The Glory of Tros” by Fritz Leiber

Books

Magazine Appearances

The Jerusalem News

The Theosophical Path

The New York Times

This is the book you need if you want to delve into Talbot Mundy. It came in handy for me deciphering how the Tros of Samothrace paperbacks broke down in comparison to the original Adventure novels and the short novel “The Messenger of Destiny.” The bibliography section also has book and magazine cover reproductions.

Tros of Samothrace is a series that is one of the influences for first wave sword and sorcery. Read Fritz Leiber’s piece on him finding the book Tros of Samothrace in the department store display window and the impact that book had on him.

3 Comments
  • Fred Blosser says:

    I agree Morgan, a very worthwhile book about this influential author, as was a biography of Mundy by Peter Beresford Ellis that Donald Grant published a year or so later. Fantasy fans may want to start with TROS, OM, KING–OF THE KHYBER RIFLES, and the later, fantasy-flavored Jimgrim novels THE DEVIL’S GUARD, THE NINE UNKNOWN, and JIMGRIM. The earlier Grim novels are fine adventure in the Middle East in the post WWI era, but non-fantastic.

  • John E. Boyle says:

    I second your recommendation; I found this book to be both readable and informative about the life and work of a master of adventure fiction. As you point out, it is an excellent tool for figuring out where and when a piece by Mundy was published. That’s useful when looking at fiction published in an era where the editors often changed the title of a story before publication.

    Your use of the term ‘rapscallion’ to describe Mundy during his years in Africa might be a bit generous. Cad and bounder might be more accurate before he changed his ways, although there is no denying he loved women and it shows in his female characters.

  • deuce says:

    “Fritz Leiber and H. Warner Munn most definitely did read the series.”

    We now know that CL Moore most likely read TROS as well. She and Lovecraft discussed it in an early 1936 letter:

    “History was the main theme—the dominant topic being Roman Britain & its long decline, as brought up by CLM’s (Moore’s) discussion of Talbot Mundy’s ‘Tros’ stories.”
    — H.P. Lovecraft to R.H. Barlow, 11 Mar 1936

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