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Talbot Mundy

Talbot Mundy was born William Lancaster Gribbon on April 23rd 1879 in London. 

After a particularly undistinguished record at Rugby School, he ran off to Germany and joined a circus. After his return, from Germany, he left Britain to work as a relief worker in Baroda in India. 

This was followed by further adventures in Africa, the Near East and the Far East.  His initial inclination was to be a con artist, a confidence trickster and exploit other areas of petty criminality. 

However with a change of location to the United States and a near fatal mugging he decided that life as an upright citizen was now more to his liking. 

By the age of 29 he had decided on Talbot Mundy as a name and three years later in 1911 he began his writing career. Obviously late but it was still to be prodigious none the less. 

Talbot’s first story, "A Transaction in Diamonds," was published in The Scrap Book in February 1911.  Two months later in April he published his first non-fiction article, "Pig-sticking in India" – based on a sport much practised by British forces in the Empire – in the pulp magazine Adventure. 

Many of his novels including his first ‘Rung Ho!’ and his most famous ‘King - Of the Khyber Rifles are set during the British Raj in India.  His time in India was short though he spent many years in Africa and, as seen in the attached bibliography, Talbot had no fear or qualms about writing about any location. 

Talbot became an American citizen on 9th December 1916. 

On 5th February 1920, Talbot Mundy, now President of the Anglo-American Society of America, arrived in Jerusalem. He also met and fell in love with a widow named Sally Ames, who would eventually become Mrs Mundy, number 4. During this period Talbot worked mainly as editor for the Jerusalem News, which entailed doing everything from proof reading to reporting. One of his biggest coups was that he was invited to go to Damascus to interview King Feisal. 

In early 1922, Mundy moved to San Diego, California. It was here that he met Katherine Tingley, the head of a splinter branch of the Theosophical Society which had a community at Point Loma, near San Diego.  It was there in late 1923 that Talbot began writing perhaps his finest novel, Om, the Secret of Ahbor Valley. 

By 1928 with relationships between himself and his then current wife and also with his publisher failing he re-located to New York to rebuild his life, career and finances. 

Whilst much of Talbot’s early life was used in his work it seems he was not particularly proud to return to these places or indeed say to much more about his earlier escapades in these places. 

Although his writing was to prove very popular over the years and has been revived on many occasions since his death it is fair to say that both his writing and his life were colourful.  He married a number of times and still believed that his business dealings would make him very rich. 

However much of his life would not go as planned and it took several marriages in the hope of finding true happiness.  His sixth wife, Dawn, gave birth to a girl on 26 February 1933 shortly after their return to England. Unfortunately the child died shortly after birth. 

Thereafter he wrote little but much of his work was republished and his name kept in print. 

On 5 August 1940 Talbot Mundy died from complications associated with diabetes.