Sarban (author)

John William Wall (6 November 1910 – 1989), pen name Sarban, was a British writer and diplomat. Wall's diplomatic career lasted over thirty years, but his writing career as Sarban was short and not prolific, ending in the early 1950s. Sarban is described in The Encyclopedia of Fantasy as "a subtle, literate teller of tales, conscious of the darker and less acceptable implications that underlie much popular literature".

Early life

Wall was born in Mexborough in Yorkshire, the son of George William Wall, a passenger guard on the Great Central Railway, and Maria Ellen (née Moffatt) Wall. After Mexborough School, he read English at Jesus College, Cambridge and received first-class honors. He also studied Arabic and took the Consular Service Exam.

Wall married Eleanor Alexander Riesle on 20 January 1950 and they had one daughter. Wall and his wife were legally separated in 1971.

Diplomatic service

In 1933, Wall was initially posted as Probationer Vice-Consul at Beirut, Lebanon. Subsequently, he was stationed at Jeddah, Tabriz, Esfahan and Casablanca. After WWII, he was Counsellor at the British Middle East Office in Cairo until 1952. Later he held the post of Consular General in Egypt until he retired from overseas service in 1966.

Wall continued to work for the Foreign Office, at first in a teaching position in London, 1966-1970, and then at the Government Communications Headquarters, a secret surveillance centre, in Cheltenham. Wall retired from the Foreign Office in 1977, and retired to Monmouthshire.

Literary work

His most famous story is the alternate history-novel The Sound of His Horn (1952) which presupposes that the Nazis have won World War II and built amusement parks where they hunt genetically altered humans for sport. Sarban also published two collections of fantasy stories during his life: "Ringstones and Other Curious Tales" (1951) and "The Doll Maker and Other Tales of the Uncanny" (1953). In 2002, "The Sacrifice: And Other Stories" was published which collected four novellas, two of which, the title story and "The Sea-Things", were published for the first time. The other two were "Number Fourteen" which appeared in a later edition of "Ringstones", and "The King Of The Lake" which was added to a later edition of "The Sound Of His Horn".


* Sullivan, Jack (1986) "Sarban" "The Penguin encyclopedia of horror and the supernatural" Viking, New York, N.Y., USA, ISBN 0-670-80902-0
* Chapman, E. L. (2002) "Sarban (John W. Wall)" "In" Harris-Fain, Darren (2002) "British fantasy and science-fiction writers, 1918-1960" Gale Group, Detroit, ISBN 0-7876-5249-0
* [ Russell, Ray B. (2001) "Sarban" "The Lost Club Journal"]

External links

* [ "Sarban" "Fantastic Fiction"]
* [ "Sarban" The Doll-Maker, Ringstones and The Sound of His Horn] Free ebooks at Munsey's

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