Farmerphile no. 1
Christopher Paul Carey and Paul Spiteri, eds., Michael Croteau, publisher, July 2005
“A Nova of Genetic Splendor”
By Win Scott Eckert
On December 13, 1795, at 3:00 p.m., a meteorite came plunging to the earth, landing near the English village of Wold Newton. The impact site became part of the local folklore in the countryside of the Yorkshire Wolds in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Pieces of the Wold Cottage Meteorite(1) are held at the London Natural History Museum, and in 1799, Edward Topham built a brick monument to commemorate the event:
On this Spot, Dec. 13th 1795
fell from the Atmosphere
AN EXTRAORDINARY STONE
In Breadth 28 inches
In Length 30 inches
Whose Weight was 56 Pounds
In Memory of it
was erected by
1799History also records that several people observed the object in the sky. “Topham’s shepherd was within 150 yards of the impact and a farmhand named John Shipley was so near that he was forcibly struck by mud and earth as the falling meteorite burrowed into the ground.” (Wold Cottage, < http://fernlea.tripod.com/woldcottage.html>). A contemporaneous account observes that:
Apocalyptic Life. In the course of his researches into the life of Lord Greystoke, Farmer extensively traced the Jungle Lord’s ancestry, and came to discover that the Ape-Man was closely related to several other august historical personages. The nexus of this relationship was the Wold Cottage meteor strike in 1795.
As Farmer uncovered, seven couples and their coachmen “were riding in two coaches past Wold Newton, Yorkshire.... A meteorite struck only twenty yards from the two coaches.... The bright light and heat and thunderous roar of the meteorite blinded and terrorized the passengers, coachmen, and horses.... They never guessed, being ignorant of ionization, that the fallen star had affected them and their unborn.” (Tarzan Alive, Addendum 2, pp. 247-248.)
The eighteen present were(2):
• John Clayton, 3rd Duke of Greystoke, and his wife, Alicia Rutherford – Tarzan
• Sir Percy Blakeney, and his (second) wife, Alice Clarke Raffles – The Scarlet Pimpernel
• Fitzwilliam Darcy, and his wife, Elizabeth Bennett – Pride and Prejudice
• George Edward Rutherford (the 11th Baron Tennington), and his wife, Elizabeth Cavendish – The Lost World
• Honoré Delagardie, and his wife, Philippa Drummond – Hugh “Bulldog” Drummond
• Dr. Siger Holmes, and his wife, Violet Clarke – Sherlock Holmes
• Sir Hugh Drummond and his wife, Lady Georgia Dewhurst – Hugh “Bulldog” Drummond
• Louis Lupin – Arsène Lupin
• Albert Lecoq – Monsieur Lecoq
• Albert Blake – Sexton Blake
• 1 unidentified by Farmer
The meteor’s ionized radiation caused a genetic mutation in those present, endowing many of their descendants with extremely high intelligence and strength. As Farmer stated, the meteor strike was “the single cause of this nova of genetic splendor, this outburst of great detectives, scientists, and explorers of exotic worlds, this last efflorescence of true heroes in an otherwise degenerate age.”(3) (Tarzan Alive, Addendum 2, pp.230-231.)
In addition to Tarzan and Doc Savage, Farmer concluded that influential people whose lives were chronicled in popular literature were part of the “Wold Newton Family,” including Solomon Kane (a pre-meteor strike ancestor); Captain Blood (a pre-meteor strike ancestor); The Scarlet Pimpernel (present at meteor strike); Harry Flashman; Sherlock Holmes and his nemesis Professor Moriarty (aka Captain Nemo); Phileas Fogg; The Time Traveler; Allan Quatermain; A.J. Raffles; Professor Challenger; Arsène Lupin; Richard Hannay; Bulldog Drummond; the evil Fu Manchu and his adversary, Sir Denis Nayland Smith; G-8; The Shadow; Sam Spade; The Spider; Nero Wolfe; Mr. Moto; The Avenger; Philip Marlowe; James Bond; Lew Archer; Travis McGee; and many more.
In the time since Mr. Farmer conducted his groundbreaking genealogical research, many researchers have followed in his footsteps. In future columns we will present more ruminations on Mr. Farmer’s landmark research, as well as delve into the continuing investigations of those whom he inspired.
Coogan, Dr. Peter M., Win Scott Eckert, and Chuck Loridans. “Literary Archaeology and Parascholarship,” Comics Arts Conference, San Diego Comic-Con International, July 22, 2004.
Eckert, Win Scott. An Expansion of Philip José Farmer’s Wold Newton Universe, aka The Wold Newton Universe, http://www.pjfarmer.com/woldnewton/Pulp2.htm
Farmer, Philip José. Tarzan Alive, Doubleday, 1972; Popular Library, 1976; Playboy Paperbacks, 1981; Bison Books, 2006 (forthcoming).
--- Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, Doubleday, 1973; Bantam Books, 1975; Playboy Paperbacks, 1981.
UK & Ireland Meteorite Page, < http://atschool.eduweb.co.uk/bookman/meteorites/C18.HTM>
(1) The meteorite is named after The Wold Cottage, the house owned by Edward Topham, who was a poet, playwright, landowner, and local magistrate. Apparently Magistrate Topham was instrumental in the Wold Cottage meteorite’s role in promoting worldwide acceptance of the fact that some stones are not of this Earth. The Wold Cottage is still privately owned, and is currently the site of a micro-brewery where one can procure the local brew, Falling Stone Bitter.
(2) It has since been revealed, by researchers inspired by Farmer’s original discoveries, that there were several more persons present that fateful day, not named by Farmer. I will restrict myself herein to Farmer’s original findings, and will address those of later researchers in future columns.
(3) Of course, not all the Wold Newton Family members were heroes. Some turned the genetic advantages with which they had been blessed toward decidedly nefarious pursuits