[Another in the series of articles on authors appearing in Blue Book magazine. A much more comprehensive article on his life and the Red Wolf stories was written by Michael Ashley as the introduction to the collection of Red Wolf stories published by Black Dog Books, The Garden of TNT.
This article originally appeared in Blue Book magazine, November 1937.]
|William J. Makin – Journalist, Author (1893-1944)|
THE gifted author of our Red Wolf of Arabia stories (don’t miss “The Blue Oasis” in this issue) has an uncanny habit of tumbling into real adventures himself. He was a student in Paris when the Great War broke and subsequently served in the British Army until he was wounded and gassed at the Battle of the Somme in 1916.
He began a journalistic career on the Manchester Guardian, but for health reasons had to go abroad. Went to India, where he tumbled into the first of three revolutions he has experienced. Sitting in Rudyard Kipling’s old newspaper office in Allahabad, he reported the Punjab Revolt and made his first attempts at writing fiction in the manner of the old master. He still thinks Kipling the most superb of craftsmen.
Makin developed the Wanderlust and went journeying through Burma and Malaya to China. Joined Sun Yat Sen and his rebel army in Canton. Saw a little fighting with brigands, and eventually landed in Mongolia, working with an American relief mission in a famine area. Eventually, being homesick, traveled from Japan across the Pacific, through the United States and back to England.
He next joined the staff of the London Daily Mail and worked in the foreign department under Valentine Williams, who wrote the famous Clubfoot stories. But within six months he was in South Africa and in the midst of his second civil war, the Rand Revolt of Johannesburg in 1922, with General Smuts and his forces who quelled this rebellion.
Two years later he was with the Prince of Wales (now Duke of Windsor) big-game shooting in Central Africa. Subsequently he toured Africa from Cairo to the Cape and journeyed into Abyssinia with the Duke of Gloucester (brother to King George VI).
It was following upon this mission that Makin lost himself for many months in the Red Sea regions, sailing in dhows and old freighters, and landing at many strange ports in Arabia. It was during this period that he conceived the idea of the character of the Red Wolf of Arabia, based on an individual who is still in the desert, working for the British Intelligence. “A man greater even than Lawrence of Arabia,” says Makin, who also discussed his Red Sea travels with Colonel Lawrence a few months before that famous Britisher met his death on an English country road.
FROM his home in London, Makin is now devoting himself to adventure fiction, and only lays down his pen to indulge in his passion for travel. It led him a few years ago to his third revolution, in Lisbon, Portugal, where within a couple of hours of being in the city a bullet in the neck laid him low.
He survived to get away to Madrid and cable the first complete story of the revolution to the English newspapers. He has written some fifteen books, travel, adventure and crime thrillers. His latest book, on espionage in Europe and the Far East, entitled “Brigade of Spies” is to be published in the near future.