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Wold Newton family

 
        The Wold Newton family is a literary concept derived from a form of crossover fiction developed by the science fiction writer Philip José Farmer. Farmer suggested in two fictional "biographies" of fictional characters (Tarzan Alive and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life), that a radioactive meteorite fell in Wold Newton, England, in the late 18th century, resulting in genetic mutations affecting the occupants of a passing coach. The progeny of these travellers were purported to have been the real-life originals of fictionalised characters, both heroic and villainous, over the last few hundred years, such as Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, Doc Savage, and Lord Peter Wimsey.

 
        Other popular characters that Philip José Farmer concluded were members of the Wold Newton mutant family include: Solomon Kane; Captain Blood; The Scarlet Pimpernel; Harry Flashman; Sherlock Holmes's nemesis Professor Moriarty; Phileas Fogg; The Time Traveller (main character of The Time Machine by H. G. Wells); Allan Quatermain; Tarzan's son Korak; A.J. Raffles; Professor Challenger; Richard Hannay; Bulldog Drummond; the evil Fu Manchu and his adversary, Sir Denis Nayland Smith; G-8; The Shadow; Sam Spade; Doc Savage's cousin Pat Savage, and one of his five assistants, Monk Mayfair; The Spider; Nero Wolfe; Mr. Moto; Major James Bigglesworth; The Avenger; Philip Marlowe; James Bond; Lew Archer; and Travis McGee.

 

        Predecessors

        An earlier proponent of this sort of fiction was William S. Baring-Gould who wrote a fictional biography of Sherlock Holmes. In 1977 C. W. Scott-Giles, an expert in heraldry, published a history of Lord Peter Wimsey's family, going back to 1066 (but describing the loss of the family tree going back to Adam and Eve); the book is based on material from his correspondence with Dorothy L. Sayers, who wrote at least two of the family anecdotes in the book, one of them in the French language of the Middle Ages.

 

        Similar Creations

        A similar premise has subsequently been adopted by Alan Moore in his comic book series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Warren Ellis's comic book series Planetary has a similar premise of fitting many different superhero, science fiction, and fantasy elements into the same universe. (Though for the most part, constrained by the needs of the story and copyright, Ellis does not use the originals but rather his own re-interpretations.)

 

        Family vs. Universe

        Although the two terms are used almost interchangeably, there is an important distinction: Wold Newton Family members - those are descended from or otherwise related to the individuals exposed to the meteor strike - and Wold Newton Universe members, who are unrelated individuals of the meteor strike who have met one or more family members in crossovers. The initial Wold Newton Family does not only consist of members who were present during the meteor strike at Wold Newton, East Riding of Yorkshire, but also the ancestors or relatives of other mysterious individuals belonging to the universe who were also exposed to radiation from the meteor in other parts of the world or by other means.

        The Wold Newton concept relies on judicious Krypto-Revisionism; the characters of the books and comics are usually treated as fictionalized, exaggerated versions of "real" people, and accounts that strain suspension of disbelief too much are dismissed as complete fabrication.

 

Source: Wikipedia