Novelist. Writer of action adventure, swashbucklers and a pioneer of science fiction, he is credited with having written more than two hundred adventure stories and novels, setting the tales in exotic locations, with heroes from a wide variety of cultures. ‘Father of Italian Popular Culture’, ‘Grandfather of the Spaghetti Western’ and ‘Father of Heroes’ are three of the titles bestowed upon him. After a failed attempt to become a naval officer he turned his passion for exploration and discovery to writing and began his career as a reporter on the daily ‘La Nuova Arena’, which published some of his work as serials. As his powers of narration grew and, having gained inspiration from reading foreign literature and newspapers, travel magazines and encyclopedias, which he used to portray his heroes' worlds, so did his reputation for having lived a life of adventure. He met Buffalo Bill when he toured Italy with his Wild West Show and used him as a hero in some of his novels. Sandokan: ‘The Tiger of Malaysia’ is his most enduring creation. (Orphaned when the British murdered his family and stole his throne, Sandokan gathered a legion of pirates and took to the sea to attain his vengeance. Under the command of Sandokan and his loyal friend Yanez de Gomera, the Tigers of Mompracem fight for the defence of tiny native kingdoms against the colonial powers of the Dutch and British empires). His other major series are ‘The Black Corsair Saga’, ‘The Pirates of Bermuda’ and a collection of adventures set in the Old West. His heroes were mostly pirates, outlaws and barbarians, fighting against greed, abuse of power, and corruption. For over a century, his novels were mandatory reading for generations of youth eager for exotic adventures. In Italy, his extensive body of work was more widely read than that of Dante. Today he is still among the 40 most translated Italian authors with his work being very popular in Portugal, Spain and Spanish-speaking countries, where Latin American writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, Carlos Fuentes, Jorge Luis Borges and Pablo Neruda, all attested to reading him when young. It is said that even Che Guevara read 62 of his books. Although relatively unknown to the English-speaking world, with only nine titles being translated into English, twenty-six of his novels can be found in the U.S. Library of Congress. In 1976, the landmark Sandokan TV miniseries played throughout Europe. It starred Kabir Bedi in the title role and attracted more than 80 million viewers a week. Bedi has been considered the quintessential Sandokan ever since. He later reprised the role in the late 1990s in a series of sequels. Despite his popularity and the success of his works, his poor business skills prevented him from obtaining any kind of financial stability. His wife had gone insane during the course of their marriage and caring for her drove him further into debt. Overwhelmed by creditors and family misfortunes, he committed suicide. In one last act, drawn from his vast research and imagination, he slit his throat and abdomen, imitating the ceremonial suicide of the Japanese samurai.
Bio by: Peter Cox