|Achmed Abdullah (1881-1945) – pseudonym of Alexander Nicholayevitch Romanoff|
Russian-born British novelist and short story writer, who gained fame after World War I with his mysteries set in exotic locales from New York's Chinatown to India and Tibet. Achmed Abdullah's best-known work is the novelization of the famous silent film, The Thief of Bagdad (1924). Its screenplay was written by Elton Thomas (Douglas Fairbanks, Sr.) and Lotta Woods.
"London is the capital of a motley and picturesque empire, and pink turbans soften the foggy, sulfurous drab of Fleet Street; lavender turbans bob up and down the human eddy of the Burlington Arcade; green and red and white turbans blotch the sober, workday atmosphere of East Croydon and Pimlico." (from 'Wings', in Wings or Tales of the Psychic, 1920)
Achmed Abdullah was born in Yalta, in the Crimea, of mixed Russian-Afghan ancestry. Abdullah never revealed the name to which he was born but apparently he was christened Alexander Nicholayevitch Romanoff. However, he was also know as Achmed Abdullah Nadir Khan el-Durani el Iddrissyeh. His father, Grand Duke Nicholas Romanoff, was a Russian-Orthodox, cousin to the last Tsar of Russia. Abdullah's mother, Princess Nourmahal Durani, was a Moslem. After she divorced her husband, Abdullah lived in Afghanistan. He was educated in Indian School, Darjeling, and College Louis le Grant, France. He then moved to England, where attended Eton School and astonished his schoolmates with his turban and earring. From there he went to Oxford. He also studied at the University of Paris. While still at college, Abdullah made his debut as a poet with Chansons Couleur Puce (1900), which was privately published. His study on Bantu dialects (1902) was also privately published.
In 1900 Abdullah entered the British army, where he spent many years as a gentleman officer. He served over the world – in India, China, Tibet, France, the Near East, and Africa. Some of Abdullah's drew on experiences from this period of his life. In the 1920s Abdullah settled in the United States, where was employed by Hollywood studios on occasion. Most his stories were first published in pulp magazines under the name Achmed Abdullah. His other pseudonyms were A.A. Nadir and John Hamilton.
Abdullah soon gained fame with colorful, enjoyable adventure stories. Sometimes they had supernatural elements, as in the collections Wings: Tales of the Psychic (1920) and Mysteries of Asia (1935). Among his mystery books are The Honourable Gentleman and Others (1919), tales set among the Chinese community in lower Manhattan, The Swinging Caravan (1925), Steel and Jade (1927), and The Bungalow on the Roof (1931), in which an secret African cult camps on the rooftop of a New York apartment building. The Man on Horseback (1919) is based on Abdullah's experiences in the American West. Especially after 1920s women readers devoured his romantic adventures. Abdullah's autobiography, The Cat Had Nine Lives (1933), is not far from fiction with its vivid tales of his travels and exploits. With Lute and Scimitar (1928), a collection of poems and ballads of Central Asia, Abdullah returned to his philological and folklore interests. His last years Abdullah lived in New York. Abdullah died on May 12, 1945. He was married three times, first to Irene Augusta Bainbridge, then to Jean Wick, who died in 1939, and then in 1940 to Rosemary Dolan.