Dr. Fu Manchu is a fictional character first featured in a series of novels by English author Sax Rohmer during the first half of the 20th century. The character was also featured extensively in cinema, television, radio, comic strips and comic books for over 90 years, and has become an archetype of the evil criminal genius while inspiring the Fu Manchu moustache.
A master criminal, Fu Manchu's murderous plots are marked by the extensive use of arcane methods; he disdains guns or explosives, preferring dacoits, Thuggee, and members of other secret societies as his agents armed with knives, or using "python and hamadryad... fungi and my tiny allies, the bacilli... my black spiders" and other peculiar animals or natural chemical weapons.
In one of the films about him, Fu Manchu allegedly claims to have a doctorate in Philosophy from Edinburgh University, a doctorate in Law from Christ's College Cambridge, and a doctorate in Medicine from Harvard. His chronicler, Dr. Petrie, believed that Fu Manchu was 70 years old in 1911 at their first encounter. This likely placed Fu Manchu in Edinburgh studying for his first doctorate in the 1870s.
According to Cay Van Ash (a friend and biographer of Sax Rohmer, who wrote his own authorized pastiches Ten Years Beyond Baker Street and The Fires of Fu Manchu) "Fu Manchu" was a title of honor, which meant "the Warlike Manchu." It was thought that the character had been a member of the Imperial family who backed the losing side in the Boxer Rebellion. In the earliest books, Fu Manchu is an assassin sent on missions by the Si-Fan, but he quickly rises to become head of that dreaded secret society. At first, the Si-Fan's goal is to throw the Europeans out of Asia; later, the group attempts to intervene more generally in world politics, while funding itself by more ordinary crime. Dr. Fu Manchu has extended his already considerable lifespan by use of the elixir vitae, a formula he spent decades trying to perfect. When China is conquered by the Communists, Fu Manchu fights to restore the China of old.
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