Sax Rohmer was born in Birmingham, Warwickshire. At the age of 18, he adopted the name Sarsfield, the name of a famous Irish general admired by Rohmer's mother. He married Rose Elizabeth Knox in 1909 and, at his wife's insistence, began using the name Sax Rohmer for his fiction, eventually employing the pseudonym as his actual name. Rohmer was basically a self-taught scholar. He started writing as a journalist; his beat was the Limehouse underworld in London. Rohmer had a difficult time breaking into the professional fiction markets, but once he did, he became a household name for exotic adventure both in England and in America. Although his writing brought Rohmer success and money, he was never much of a businessman, and most of his wealth was squandered because of his extravagance and through financial mismanagement. Rohmer eventually moved to New York City. One of Rohmer's great intellectual interests was the occult and supernatural, and these elements frequently appeared as motifs in his fiction. His most famous creation was the evil oriental mastermind, Dr. Fu Manchu, first presented in the novel The Mystery of Fu Manchu in 1913 (later retitled The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu for its American publication, also in 1913). Most espionage or adventure fiction exploits the social paranoias of its time, and Rohmer himself effectively tapped the Westerner's fear of the stereotyped "yellow peril" threat---the negatively perceived belief that Orientals will conquer the world. The Fu Manchu adventures were patterned, in part, after Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. Rohmer's protagonists in these adventures, Sir Denis Nayland Smith and his companion Dr. Petrie, look very much like Doyle's Holmes and Watson, but, whereas Doyle centered his narratives on the heroes and specifically on the elaborate process of detection, Rohmer focused his attention on the villain and on slam-bang action. Fu Manchu was a master of both Western science and Eastern mysticism, and his efforts at world domination caused no end of problems for Smith and Petrie. In Fu Manchu, Rohmer had created the most famous villain in popular fiction (although Rohmer maintained that Fu Manchu was based on an actual Limehouse criminal). Despite Rohmer's use of outrageous racial stereotyping, many of his novels hold up well today and provide superior examples of how to create narrative pacing and suspense.