Robert Smythe Hichens was born on November 14, 1864, the son of a clergyman and his wife. As a teen he showed aptitude as a pianist and enrolled at the Royal College of Music, which he abandoned for the London School of Journalism. During this time he also published his first novel, The Coastguard's Secret, a story of murder, romance and the supernatural. In his late 20s he suffered a bout of poisoning, and decided to recuperate in Cairo. While there, he made several literary friends and was introduced to Oscar Wilde, who inspired his quintessential London fin‐de‐siècle satire, The Green Carnation. Hichens went on to write over fifty novels—exotic melodramas, mystery, romance—as well as nine story collections and several works of non‐fiction on the Near East. Many of his novels were staged or turned into films, including The Paradine Case directed by Alfred Hitchcock. He died on July 20, 1959, in Switzerland, where he had moved for his health.

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  • "Hichens' specialty was the romantic melodrama, usually set in the Middle East, with exotic occult themes."—"The Case for Robert Hichens". New introduction by S. T. Joshi. December 2022.