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When the irresistibly attractive French convict Gaston Vandeloup escapes to the goldfields of Ballarat, he sets out to meet the remarkable Madame Midas. Charming, intelligent and forthright, she finds her fortune in Ballarat's fabulous mines and returns to marvellous Melbourne where she lives in magnificent style. But, in that city of con men and opportunists, her wealth makes her prey to deceit and crime, destined to end in murder...First published in 1888, Madame Midas is the best-selling companion-piece to Fergus Hume's phenomenally successful The Mystery of the Hansom Cab. Madame Midas herself is based on Alice Cornwell, a woman whose life was as strange as the fiction she inspired. In his thrilling mystery, introduced here by Simon Caterson, Hume unforgettably dramatises the story of an enigmatic woman in a society enslaved by wealth. 'A rare treasure...Madame Midas herself is one of the most memorable Victorian heroines.' Stephen Knight
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.