Talbot Mundy is one of those writers that seemed to encompass the old British Empire, but interestingly lacking in the Jingoism and Orientalism of writers of that period that irritates the post-colonial, postmodern lit-crit crowd, who tend to condemn out of hand such works. In fact, Mundy had a great sensitivity and sympathy about the cultures he wrote. Some of his works are on par with Robert E. Howard’s works such as the Conan the Barbarian series with his Tros of Samothrace series, almost in the vein of H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines/She series. His influence extended to such writers as Fritz Leiber, Andre Norton, Daniel Easterman, Leigh Brackett, and James Hilton’s Lost Horizon was inspired by Mundy’s works. So you can see how influential his stories were and continue to be on writers past and present.
Mundy’s biography deserves a close look and his life would almost appear as a plot from one of his own books. He was born William Lancaster Gribbon in 1879 in London and ran away at 16, travelling to Africa, India and the near east. He eventually moved to America and was a kind of petty thief and confidence man. A near death encounter while on one of his sub-rosa expeditions turned his life around and he walked the straight and narrow ever afterward. The experiences give his work a realistic feeling. There are no supermen in his books, but extraordinary people who are in exotic settings, amazing circumstances, and great danger. An excellent bio on Talbot Mundy is located at http://theosophy.katinkahesselink.net/talbut-mundy/mundybio.html
Four biographies with bibliography:
Talbot Mundy, Messenger of Destiny by Donald M. Grant, 1983