TNB Night Owl – Wold Newton

Photograph of Richard Gordon and Leigh Lovel, stars of the NBC radio series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Photo by What's On the Air Company.

How do you make genealogy interesting?  Action heroes!

Wold Newton is the name given to a historical construct by author Philip Jose Farmer, from two biographies he wrote; one of Tarzan and another of Doc Savage.  Farmer explained that these supposedly fictional men were actual people, but people whose exploits had been sensationalized and inflated by their secret biographers, who most merely believed to be fiction authors.

They were able to perform the heroic deeds because of their superior genetics, and that’s where the name of the construct comes into play. 

Farmer explains that the Wold Cottage meteorite which crashed to Earth near Wold Newton, England in 1795 was mildly radioactive upon impact.  The passengers of two coaches which were near the crash site were subjected to the radiation and it affected their genetic structure.  The people in those coaches were the ancestors of both of the men who were the real-life inspirations for Tarzan and Doc Savage.

He didn’t stop there, though.

Farmer was both meticulous and playful.  Soon enough his “studies” produced further family ties to people who seemed to have abilities just at the edges of human prowess.  Some used their skills for good, some for evil.

Sherlock Holmes.  Phileas Fogg.  Allan Quatermain.  Nero Wolfe.  James Bond.  Professor Moriarty.  Solomon Kane.  Travis McGee.  Fu Manchu.  The Shadow.  Sam Spade.  Even Cordwainer Bird, who was often mistaken for the author Harlan Ellison.  All of them, extended members of the same family tree tracing back to the Wold Cottage Meteorite.

But that’s not all.  On the PJFarmer website, maintained dutifully after the author’s passing, a host of other related family trees are charted, all of which can be traced back to the original people exposed to the meteorite strike.  

If you’ve ever wondered what the family relationship between Steed of the Avengers, Carl Kolchak and “Crocodile” Dundee might be, the truth is finally out there… which might make Fox Mulder happy, as he’s also listed as being one of the descendants.

Question of the night: Who are your most interesting relatives?

About the opinions in this article…

Any opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this website or of the other authors/contributors who write for it.

About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.