Arthur D. Howden Smith

Arthur D. Howden Smith (1887–1945) was an American historian and novelist.[1]


Arthur Douglas Howden Smith was born in New York. In 1907, he joined the VMRO in Sofia. His experiences he described in 1908 in the book "Fighting the Turk in the Balkans", describing the revolutionary struggle in Macedonia. On returning to the United States, Smith became a reporter for the newspaper the New York Evening Post.[2]


Smith began writing by contributing fiction to the pulp magazines; his main market was Adventure.[3] Smith also wrote fiction for Blue Book.[4] For Adventure, Smith wrote sea stories about the adventures of Captain McConaughy.[5] There were also historical swashbucklers about a Viking, Swain,[6] living in Medieval Orkney and engaged in a terrible feud with the witch Frakork and her blood-thirsty grandson Olvir Rosta - which Smith bases on historical information provided by the Orkneyinga saga.

Smith's most famous series were the "Grey Maiden" stories. This revolved around a cursed sword created during the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III and its subsequent appearances through world history.[1][7]

Smith also wrote "The Doom Trail" (1921) and its sequel "Beyond the Sunset", the adventures of Harry Ormerod, an 18th-century English exile, in the frontier of Colonial North America at the Iroqois country where a fierce struggle is waged with French agents out of Canada for control of the fur trade.[2]

Smith was a great admirer of Robert Louis Stevenson.[2] In Porto Bello Gold (1924), a prequel to Treasure Island - written with the permission of Robert Louis Stevenson's executor, Lloyd Osbourne - Harry Ormerod's son Robert goes to sea in the company of such famous pirates as Captain Flint, Long John Silver and Billy Bones and takes part in capturing the treasure which would be recovered in Stevenson's book.[8] Smith also wrote a sequel to Stevenson's Kidnapped, Alan Breck Again.[2]

The Ormerod Family sage was continued further in "The Manifest Destiny" where Robert Ormerod's great-grandson takes part in the expeditions of the 19th century adventurer William Walker.

Smith wrote several books on American history, including a biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt, Commodore Vanderbilt: An Epic of American Achievement (1927). [9]


  1. Robert Sampson, Yesterday's Faces: Violent Lives, Bowling Green State University, 1993, ISBN 0-685-68823-2, pp. 177–78.
  2. Michael Cox and Jack Adrian, The Oxford Book of Historical Stories. Oxford; Oxford University Press, 1994. ISBN 9780192142191 (p.428).
  3. Robert Kenneth Jones, The Lure of Adventure, Starmont House, 1989, ISBN 1-55742-143-9, p. 14.
  4. Mike Ashley, "Blue Book—The Slick in Pulp Clothing", Pulp Vault, No. 14, Barrington Hills, IL: Tattered Pages Press, 2011, pp. 210–53.
  5. Jones, p. 20.
  6. Jones, pp. 35-36.
  7. Mike Ashley, "Smith, Arthur D(ouglas) Howden" in John Grant and John Clute, The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, ISBN 0-312-19869-8, p. 879.
  8. Bernard A. Drew, Literary Afterlife: the posthumous continuations of 325 authors' fictional characters. McFarland, 2010, ISBN 0-7864-4179-8, p. 61.
  9. Edward J. Renehan, Jr., Commodore: The Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, Basic Books, ISBN 0-465-00256-0, p. 326.
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