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Wold Newton family

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The Wold Newton family is a literary concept derived from a form of crossover fiction developed by the science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 writer Philip José Farmer
Philip José Farmer
Philip José Farmer was an American author, principally known for his award-winning science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories....

. Farmer suggested in two fictional "biographies" of fictional characters (Tarzan Alive and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life
Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life
Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life is a fictional biography by Philip José Farmer about pulp fiction hero Doc Savage.The book is written with the assumption that Doc Savage was a real person. Kenneth Robeson, the author of the Doc Savage novels, is portrayed as writing fictionalized memoirs of the...

), that the (real) meteorite
Wold Newton meteorite
The Wold Cottage meteorite fell at 3 p.m. on 13 December 1795 a few miles away from the hamlet of Wold Newton in Yorkshire, England. The meteorite fell two fields away from a large house, the Wold Cottage, owned by Edward Topham...

 which fell in Wold Newton
Wold Newton, East Riding of Yorkshire
Wold Newton is a small Yorkshire Wolds village and civil parish in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. It is situated approximately south of Scarborough and north west of Bridlington. The hamlet of Fordon is also part of the civil parish of Wold Newton...

, Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

, England, on December 13, 1795, was radioactive and caused gene
A gene is a molecular unit of heredity of a living organism. It is a name given to some stretches of DNA and RNA that code for a type of protein or for an RNA chain that has a function in the organism. Living beings depend on genes, as they specify all proteins and functional RNA chains...

tic mutation
In molecular biology and genetics, mutations are changes in a genomic sequence: the DNA sequence of a cell's genome or the DNA or RNA sequence of a virus. They can be defined as sudden and spontaneous changes in the cell. Mutations are caused by radiation, viruses, transposons and mutagenic...

s in the occupants of a passing coach. Many of their descendants were thus endowed with extremely high intelligence and strength, as well as an exceptional capacity and drive to perform good, or, as the case may be, evil deeds. The progeny of these travellers were purported to have been the real-life originals of fictionalised characters, both heroic and villainous, over the last few hundred years, such as Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The fantastic London-based "consulting detective", Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to take almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve...

, Tarzan
Tarzan is a fictional character, an archetypal feral child raised in the African jungles by the Mangani "great apes"; he later experiences civilization only to largely reject it and return to the wild as a heroic adventurer...

, Doc Savage
Doc Savage
Doc Savage is a fictional character originally published in American pulp magazines during the 1930s and 1940s. He was created by publisher Henry W. Ralston and editor John L...

, and Lord Peter Wimsey.

Other popular characters that Philip José Farmer concluded were members of the Wold Newton family include: Solomon Kane
Solomon Kane
Solomon Kane is a fictional character created by the pulp-era writer Robert E. Howard. A late 16th / early 17th century Puritan, Solomon Kane is a sombre-looking man who wanders the world with no apparent goal other than to vanquish evil in all its forms...

; Captain Blood
Captain Blood
Captain Blood may refer to:* Captain Blood , by Rafael Sabatini** Captain Blood , based on the novel** Captain Blood , based on the novel...

; The Scarlet Pimpernel
The Scarlet Pimpernel
The Scarlet Pimpernel is a play and adventure novel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, set during the Reign of Terror following the start of the French Revolution. The story is a precursor to the "disguised superhero" tales such as Zorro and Batman....

; Sherlock Holmes's nemesis Professor Moriarty
Professor Moriarty
Professor James Moriarty is a fictional character and the archenemy of the detective Sherlock Holmes in the fiction of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Moriarty is a criminal mastermind, described by Holmes as the "Napoleon of Crime". Doyle lifted the phrase from a real Scotland Yard inspector who was...

; Phileas Fogg
Phileas Fogg
Phileas Fogg is the main fictional character in the 1873 Jules Verne novel Around the World in Eighty Days.Fogg attempts to circumnavigate the late Victorian world in eighty days, or less, for a wager of £20,000 with members of London's Reform Club. He takes the wager and leaves with Passepartout,...

; The Time Traveller (main character of The Time Machine
The Time Machine
The Time Machine is a science fiction novella by H. G. Wells, published in 1895 for the first time and later adapted into at least two feature films of the same name, as well as two television versions, and a large number of comic book adaptations. It indirectly inspired many more works of fiction...

by H. G. Wells
H. G. Wells
Herbert George Wells was an English author, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing text books and rules for war games...

); Allan Quatermain
Allan Quatermain
Allan Quatermain is the protagonist of H. Rider Haggard's 1885 novel King Solomon's Mines and its various prequels and sequels. Allan Quatermain was also the title of a book in this sequence.- History :...

; A.J. Raffles; Professor Challenger
Professor Challenger
George Edward Challenger, better known as Professor Challenger, is a fictional character in a series of science fiction stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle...

; Richard Hannay
Richard Hannay
Major-General Sir Richard Hannay, KCB, OBE, DSO, Legion of Honour, is a fictional secret agent created by Scottish novelist John Buchan. In his autobiography, Memory Hold-the-Door, Buchan suggests that the character is based, in part, on Edmund Ironside, from Edinburgh, a spy during the Second Boer...

; Bulldog Drummond
Bulldog Drummond
Bulldog Drummond is a British fictional character, created by "Sapper", a pseudonym of Herman Cyril McNeile , and the hero of a series of novels published from 1920 to 1954.- Drummond :...

; the evil Fu Manchu
Fu Manchu
Dr. Fu Manchu is a fictional character introduced in a series of novels by British author Sax Rohmer during the first half of the 20th century...

 and his adversary, Sir Denis Nayland Smith; G-8
G-8 (character)
G-8 was a heroic aviator and spy during World War I in pulp fiction. He starred in his own title G-8 and His Battle Aces, published by Popular Publications. All stories were written by Robert J. Hogan, under his own name. The title lasted 110 issues, from October 1933 to June 1944...

; The Shadow
The Shadow
The Shadow is a collection of serialized dramas, originally in pulp magazines, then on 1930s radio and then in a wide variety of media, that follow the exploits of the title character, a crime-fighting vigilante in the pulps, which carried over to the airwaves as a "wealthy, young man about town"...

; Sam Spade
Sam Spade
Sam Spade is a fictional character who is the protagonist of Dashiell Hammett's 1930 novel The Maltese Falcon and the various films and adaptations based on it, as well as in three lesser known short stories by Hammett....

; Doc Savage's cousin Patricia Savage, and one of his five assistants, Monk Mayfair; The Spider
The Spider
The Spider was one of the major pulp magazine heroes of the 1930s and 1940s.- Background :The Spider was created by Harry Steeger at Popular Publications in 1933 as competition to Street and Smith Publications' vigilante hero, The Shadow...

; Nero Wolfe
Nero Wolfe
Nero Wolfe is a fictional detective, created in 1934 by the American mystery writer Rex Stout. Wolfe's confidential assistant Archie Goodwin narrates the cases of the detective genius. Stout wrote 33 novels and 39 short stories from 1934 to 1974, with most of them set in New York City. Wolfe's...

; Mr. Moto
Mr. Moto
Mr. Moto is a fictional Japanese secret agent created by the American author John P. Marquand. He appeared in six novels by Marquand published between 1935 and 1957. Marquand initially created the character for the Saturday Evening Post, which was seeking stories with an Asian hero after the death...

; The Avenger; Philip Marlowe
Philip Marlowe
Philip Marlowe is a fictional character created by Raymond Chandler in a series of novels including The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye. Marlowe first appeared under that name in The Big Sleep published in 1939...

; James Bond
James Bond
James Bond, code name 007, is a fictional character created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short story collections. There have been a six other authors who wrote authorised Bond novels or novelizations after Fleming's death in 1964: Kingsley Amis,...

; Lew Archer
Lew Archer
Lew Archer is a fictional character created by Ross Macdonald. Archer is a private detective working in Southern California.-Profile:Initially, Lew Archer was similar to Philip Marlowe. However, he eventually broke from that mold, though some similarities remain...

; Travis McGee
Travis McGee
Travis McGee is a fictional character, created by prolific American mystery writer John D. MacDonald. Unlike most detectives in crime fiction, McGee is neither a police officer nor a licensed private investigator; instead, he is a self-described "salvage consultant" who recovers others' property...

; Monsieur Lecoq
Monsieur Lecoq
Monsieur Lecoq is the creation of Émile Gaboriau, a 19th-century French writer and journalist. Monsieur Lecoq is a fictional detective employed by the French Sûreté...

; and Arsène Lupin
Arsène Lupin
Arsène Lupin is a fictional character who appears in a book series of detective fiction / crime fiction novels written by French writer Maurice Leblanc, as well as a number of non-canonical sequels and numerous film, television such as Night Hood, stage play and comic book adaptations.- Overview :A...


The Wold Newton Universe

The Wold Newton Universe (or WNU) is a term coined by Win Scott Eckert
Win Scott Eckert
Win Scott Eckert is an author and editor, best known for his work on the literary-crossover Wold Newton Universe, created by author Philip José Farmer, but much expanded-upon subsequently by Eckert and others. He holds a B.A...

 to denote an expansion of Philip José Farmer
Philip José Farmer
Philip José Farmer was an American author, principally known for his award-winning science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories....

's original Wold Newton Family concept (introduced in the "fictional biography" Tarzan Alive (1972)). Eckert introduced the term in 1997 on his website, An Expansion of Philip José Farmer's Wold Newton Universe http://www.pjfarmer.com/woldnewton/Pulp2.htm. Eckert uses Farmer's concept of the Wold Newton Family as a unifying device, and expands the universe the Wold Newton Family inhabits by documenting crossovers between fictional characters appearing in various media and genres. Not all characters linked into the WNU are necessarily blood relatives, descendants, or ancestors of those present at the 1795 Wold Newton meteor strike, but they all exist in the same shared fictional universe. Farmer himself penned a number of crossover fiction stories and novels set in what is now termed the Wold Newton Universe; not all characters in Farmer's Wold Newton fiction are core members of the Wold Newton Family, but all are linked into the larger WNU via connections with Farmer's primary Wold Newton Family works, Tarzan Alive and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life
Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life
Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life is a fictional biography by Philip José Farmer about pulp fiction hero Doc Savage.The book is written with the assumption that Doc Savage was a real person. Kenneth Robeson, the author of the Doc Savage novels, is portrayed as writing fictionalized memoirs of the...


Eckert and other "post-Farmerian" writers (denoting authors working with or in a similar vein as Eckert, who are admirers of Farmer's Wold Newton biographies and fiction) have – through crossovers documented in Eckert's massive online Crossover Chronologyhttp://www.pjfarmer.com/woldnewton/Chron.htm (due to be published in book form by Black Coat Press in two volumes in 2010 as Crossovers: A Secret Chronology of the World), and through parascholarly articles such as those appearing on the various WNU-themed websites online; Myths for the Modern Age: Philip José Farmer's Wold Newton Universe (edited by Win Scott Eckert, MonkeyBrain Books, 2005, a 2007 Locus Award finalist http://www.locusmag.com/2007/04_LocusFinalists.html) and in various issues of the pro-zine dedicated to and authorized by Farmer, Farmerphile: The Magazine of Philip José Farmerhttp://www.pjfarmer.com/farmerphile.htm(published by Michael Croteau, webmaster of the Official Philip José Farmer Home Page http://www.pjfarmer.com/) – brought numerous further fictional characters into the WNU. These characters have appeared in literary fiction – including penny dreadful
Penny Dreadful
A penny dreadful was a type of British fiction publication in the 19th century that usually featured lurid serial stories appearing in parts over a number of weeks, each part costing an penny...

s, pulp comics
Pulp magazine
Pulp magazines , also collectively known as pulp fiction, refers to inexpensive fiction magazines published from 1896 through the 1950s. The typical pulp magazine was seven inches wide by ten inches high, half an inch thick, and 128 pages long...

, Victorian
Victorian literature
Victorian literature is the literature produced during the reign of Queen Victoria . It forms a link and transition between the writers of the romantic period and the very different literature of the 20th century....

, Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 and Renaissance literature
Renaissance literature
Renaissance Literature refers to the period in European literature that began in Italy during the 14th century and spread around Europe through the 17th century...

, steampunk
Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. Steampunk involves a setting where steam power is still widely used—usually Victorian era Britain or "Wild West"-era United...

, Gothic novels, fairy tale
Fairy tale
A fairy tale is a type of short story that typically features such folkloric characters, such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, dwarves, giants or gnomes, and usually magic or enchantments. However, only a small number of the stories refer to fairies...

s, mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

 and folklore
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

 – as well as in film, television programs, comic book series and graphic novels, radio shows, and even video games.

Many post-Farmerian "parascholars" have attempted to expand the WNU to include characters of their liking into the WNU, and often into the Wold Newton family proper. These attempts have included efforts to fit in comic book superheroes and supervillains, whose published exploits, by their very nature, often prove difficult to reconcile with Farmer's original framework. Therefore, in order for aspects of larger fictional universes to adhere to certain conditions of the overall continuity and even believability of the WNU (whose root conceit has always been that characters the world knows as fictional actually lived, or are yet living, and that their adventures are based on true events embroidered by the genre authors who serve as their "biographers"), certain accounts of the characters' lives that overly strain suspension of disbelief are often labeled as "distortion" of actual events, or dismissed as complete fabrication.

Family vs. Universe

Although the two terms are used almost interchangeably, there is an important distinction: Wold Newton Family members - those who are descended from or otherwise related to the individuals exposed to the meteor strike; and Wold Newton Universe members, unrelated to the family, who have met one or more family members in crossovers. Examples of this can be found in the works of Farmer that created the concept: several family members were present at the death of King Kong, thus firmly placing Kong in the universe, but Kong cannot be a family member as he is not human.

Similar creations

An earlier proponent of this sort of fiction was William S. Baring-Gould
William S. Baring-Gould
William Stuart Baring-Gould was a noted Sherlock Holmes scholar, best known as the author of the influential 1962 fictional biography, Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street: A life of the world's first consulting detective.-Biography:...

, who wrote a fictional biography of Sherlock Holmes. In 1977 C. W. Scott-Giles, an expert in heraldry, published a history of Lord Peter Wimsey's family, going back to 1066 (but describing the loss of the family tree going back to Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve were, according to the Genesis creation narratives, the first human couple to inhabit Earth, created by YHWH, the God of the ancient Hebrews...

); the book is based on material from his correspondence with Dorothy L. Sayers
Dorothy L. Sayers
Dorothy Leigh Sayers was a renowned English crime writer, poet, playwright, essayist, translator and Christian humanist. She was also a student of classical and modern languages...

, who wrote at least two of the family anecdotes in the book, one of them in the French language
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 of the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

For details, see Duke of Denver
Duke of Denver
The fictitious title of Duke of Denver was created by Dorothy Sayers for the family of Lord Peter Wimsey. Lord Peter is the second of the three children of Mortimer Wimsey, 15th Duke of Denver...


Warren Ellis
Warren Ellis
Warren Girard Ellis is an English author of comics, novels, and television, who is well-known for sociocultural commentary, both through his online presence and through his writing, which covers transhumanist themes...

's comic book series Planetary
Planetary (comics)
Planetary is an American comic book limited series created by writer Warren Ellis and artist John Cassaday published by the Wildstorm imprint of DC Comics...

has a similar premise of fitting many different superhero
A superhero is a type of stock character, possessing "extraordinary or superhuman powers", dedicated to protecting the public. Since the debut of the prototypical superhero Superman in 1938, stories of superheroes — ranging from brief episodic adventures to continuing years-long sagas —...

, science fiction, and fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

 elements into the same universe. (Though for the most part, constrained by the needs of the story and copyright, Ellis does not use the originals but rather his own re-interpretations of the archetypes). Author Kim Newman
Kim Newman
Kim Newman is an English journalist, film critic, and fiction writer. Recurring interests visible in his work include film history and horror fiction—both of which he attributes to seeing Tod Browning's Dracula at the age of eleven—and alternate fictional versions of history...

 has stated that his Anno Dracula series
Anno Dracula series
The Anno Dracula series by Kim Newman—named after Anno Dracula , the series' first novel—is a work of fantasy depicting an alternate history in which the heroes of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula fail to stop Count Dracula's conquest of Great Britain, resulting in a world where vampires are common and...

 was partially inspired by the Wold Newton family.

The anthology series Tales of the Shadowmen
Tales of the Shadowmen
Tales of the Shadowmen is an annual anthology of short stories edited by Jean-Marc Lofficier and Randy Lofficier, published by . As of 2010, seven volumes have been released, with a eighth slated for late 2011...

edited by Jean-Marc Lofficier
Jean-Marc Lofficier
Jean-Marc Lofficier is a French author of books about films and television programs, as well as numerous comic books and translations of a number of animation screenplays. He usually collaborates with his wife, Randy Lofficier .-Biography:Jean-Marc Lofficier was born in Toulon, France in 1954...

 is also based on the Wold Newton concept and includes characters from French literature.

Alan Moore
Alan Moore
Alan Oswald Moore is an English writer primarily known for his work in comic books, a medium where he has produced a number of critically acclaimed and popular series, including Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and From Hell...

 did likewise in his The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a comic book series written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Kevin O'Neill, publication of which began in 1999. The series spans two six-issue limited series and a graphic novel from the America's Best Comics imprint of Wildstorm/DC, and a third miniseries...

comic book (and its sequels) in which various Victorian era literary characters meet and join up with the eponymous League (though they are not descended from a single family). Over the course of the series, the world of the League began to incorporate many works of fiction from many different eras -not just Victorian literature- into its universe. Moore calls the Wold Newton stories "a seminal influence upon the League"

External links