Who's Who?

Alessandro Cagliostro

Professor Childermass calls Jarmyn Thanatos a medicine-show quack and a con artist, likening him to this historical figure.  Later, it is revealed he worked side-by-side with the Thanatos and the two may have discovered the elixir of life - a way for a person to live forever [The Bell, the Book, and the Spellbinder; 22, 100-1].

Count Alessandro di Cagliostro was the alias of the occultist Giuseppe Balsamo (1743-1795), said to be one of the greatest figures in occult, although he’s more often thought of as a charlatan. Crisscrossing Europe to promote himself and his alchemy prowess and peddling his medicines and elixirs, Cagliostro was continually persecuted against. Eventually, he found his way to Rome where he was tried and convicted of a long list of crimes, among them heresy, sacrilege, fraud, and conspiracy. He was sentenced to death but the pope intervened, and was imprisoned by the Roman Inquisition in 1789.


Agatha Christie

Anthony finds the deserted Weatherend mansion to look like the setting of a murder mystery by this noted British author [The Dark Secret of Weatherend; 13].

Agatha Christie (1890-1976) was a British writer, known as the Queen of Crime and best remembered for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. She wrote more than 30 novels featuring Hercule Poirot – including Murder on the Orient Express (1934) and Death on the Nile (1937) – as well as 12 novels featuring Miss Jane Marple.


Douglas Fairbanks

Grampa Dixon thinks he remembers seeing this actor in the old silent film, The Sea Hawk [The Secret of the Underground Room; 19].

The funny thing about this...Grampa remembers the name of a film. Released in 1924, The Sea Hawk is based on a novel by Rafael Sabatini and tells the tale of an English noble sold into slavery and who escapes and turns himself into a pirate king. It’s just that Douglas Fairbanks (1883-1939) wasn’t in it. Fairbanks was an American actor and director best known for his swashbuckling roles in silent films including one that Grampa (and maybe Bellairs) was thinking about, 1926’s The Black Pirate. Interesting enough, another swashbuckling actor, Errol Flynn, was in the 1940 remake of The Sea Hawk.


St. George

Upon finding an enchanted sword, Prospero begins thrashing it about and shouting old-fashioned war cries, including one referencing this Roman soldier and Christian martyr [The Dolphin Cross; Magic Mirrors; 188].

Saint George (c. 275–303) was a Roman soldier and martyr, one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic Church. The legend of Saint George slaying a dragon dates from the twelfth century, and Saint George became the patron saint of England in the thirteenth century during the reign of King Edward III. The Cross of St. George is a red cross on a white background and one of the three crosses that make up the United Kingdom’s tri-colored flag.


Godfrey of Bouillon

Johnny encounters a statue of this medieval knight on the Glomus estate [The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt; 151].

Godfrey of Bouillon (1060-1100) was a medieval Frankish knight who was one of the leaders of the First Crusade. He was the Lord of Bouillon (a municipality in Belgium), from which he took his byname, and after the successful siege of Jerusalem in 1099, Godfrey became the first ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Because he had been the first ruler in Jerusalem, Godfrey was idealized in later accounts and was included among the ideal knights known as the Nine Worthies. Speaking of which, a bronze statue of Godfrey (and King Arthur, too) stands inside the Hofkirche church in Innsbruck, Austria.



Prospero sees markings belonging to this local figure in the keystone of a Northern Kingdom bridge [The Face in the Frost; 113].

While Hatto appears to be a local bishop in the context of Face, the name is based on two real archbishops of Mainz. Hatto II, who reigned from 968 to 970, figures into the infamous Mouse Tower on the Rhine. According to legend the archbishop tricked the townspeople into thinking rations were stored in a barn. Once inside, the archbishop set the barn ablaze, killing all inside. Retreating to his castle he was attacked by an army of mice. Fleeing to the tower on the Rhine, the mice followed suit and ate the spiteful bishop alive.


Don Herbert

When Jonathan tries to explain a burnt-out light bulb, Mrs. Zimmermann tells him to cut the scientific explanations one would expect from this television personality [The Tower at the End of the World; 15].

Donald Herbert (1917-2007) was the creator and host of Watch Mr. Wizard (1951–65, 1971–72), an educational television program for children devoted to science and technology. The weekly half-hour live television series featured Herbert as Mr. Wizard and either a boy or a girl for whom Herbert performed interesting science experiments, many simple enough to be re-created by viewers. Over 500 live episodes were created before it was canceled in 1965; the program won a Peabody Award in 1953.


Zora Neale Hurston

Johnny and Fergie visit the library to find books on voodoo and find Tell My Horse, a book by this noted author [The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie; 56].

A noted American folklorist, anthropologist, and author, Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) was best known for her more than 50 published short stories, plays, and essays, and her four novels, including 1937’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Hurston traveled extensively in the Caribbean and the American South and immersed herself in local cultural practices to conduct her anthropological research. In 1936 and 1937 she traveled to Jamaica and to Haiti with support from the Guggenheim Foundation from which her anthropological work Tell My Horse published in 1938 emerged.


H.P. Lovecraft

H.P. Lovecraft (1890–1937) was an American author of horror, fantasy, and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction. His best-known creations are the Cthulhu Mythos, a series of loosely interconnected fiction featuring a number of mysterious entities, as well as the Necronomicon, a fictional grimoire of magical rites and forbidden lore.


Christopher Marlowe

A clue to the whereabouts of the missing Professor Childermass comes from a line in a Shakespeare play referring to this dramatist [The Spell of the Sorcerer's Skull; 101].

Christopher Marlowe (1564-93) was an Elizabethan era English dramatist, thought to be Shakespeare's only literary peer; his best known works were Hero and Leander and The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. Marlowe was killed in a tavern brawl on May 30, 1593, and the events surrounding his suspicious death have captivated audiences for centuries. Allusions to Marlowe's work are prevalent in Shakespeare's plays, including Marlowe's murder in As You Like It: “it strikes a man more dead than a great reckoning in a little room.”


Frederick Manfred

In his role as a library page, Anthony is asked questions such as the real name of this Minnesota author [The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn; 22].

A native of Iowa, Frederick Manfred (1912-1994) was a noted Western author and born Frederick Feikes Feikema, VII. After graduating from college, he struck out to see the country, hoboing west to Yellowstone and back. The Golden Bowl (1944) is based on those adventures and his firsthand experience of the Dust Bowl; Lord Grizzly (1954) was Manfred's most successful book. For a time he lived in Minnesota’s Blue Mounds State Park and later in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.


Pietro Mocenigo

Shortly after thier arrival in ancient Constantinople, Johnny and Professor Childermass find themselves in the presence of this famed admiral [The Trolley to Yesterday; 79-81].

Pietro Mocenigo (1406-76) was one of the greatest Venetian admirals. In 1472, he captured and destroyed Smyrna; the following year he placed Catherine Cornaro, queen of Cyprus, under Venetian protection, and, by that means, the republic obtained possession of the island in 1475. He then defeated the Turks who were besieging Scutari, but he there contracted an illness of which he died. Bellairs either misspells his name as Piero or Townsend mispronounces the name.


Claude Monet

Mrs. Zimmermann’s purple collection includes a signed painting of purple water lilies by this noted French artist [The Ghost in the Mirror; 10].

Claude Monet (1840–1926) was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature. Water Lilies is a series of approximately 250 oil paintings depicting the flower gardens at the artist’s home. Other notable works include his series of Poplars, Haystacks, and the piece that gave a movement its name, Impression, Sunrise.


Grandma Moses

Anthony sees Miss Eells slogging through the snow on skies and likens the spry, bird-like woman to this noted artist trying out for the U.S. Winter Olympics team [The Lamp from the Warlock's Tomb; 120].

Anna Mary Robertson Moses (1860-1961) was a renowned American folk artist that came into prime during her late 70s. Known as Grandma Moses, her paintings were used to publicize numerous American holidays, including Thanksgiving, Christmas and Mother's Day. During the 1950s, Grandma Moses' exhibitions were so popular that they broke attendance records all over the world. Interesting enough, her artwork was first discovered in a window at a pharmacy in Hoosick Falls, New York, where she was later buried.


Thomas Nashe

A copy of this author’s The Unfortunate Traveller on the Windrow estate adds to the number of items with the initials of U.T. spread throughout the property [The Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost; 77].

The Unfortunate Traveller: or, the Life of Jack Wilton (1594) is a picaresque novel set during the reign of Henry VIII of England. What made it so unfortunate? Wilton wanders through battles and plagues, is nearly hanged and on display in a live anatomy demonstration. Fun stuff. Thomas Nashe (1567-1601) was a playwright, poet and satirist; his best known work may be Summer's Last Will and Testament (1600). Bellairs probably read Nashe and his works in graduate-level Elizabethan literature courses.


Pablo Picasso

Jonathan encourages Lewis to draw the strange figure he saw and not worry if his drawing talents aren’t up to this master’s talents [The Sign of the Sinister Sorcerer; 52].

Spanish painter and sculptor Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) is one of the best-known figures in 20th Century art. He is widely known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. Among his most famous works are the proto-Cubist Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907), The Old Guitarist (1903), Three Musicians (1921), and Dora Maar au Chat (1941), one of the world's most expensive paintings.


Charley Ross

Mrs. Monday says her son mopes around like this lost child [The Mansion in the Mist; 5].

Charles Ross (b.1870) was the victim of the first kidnapping for ransom case in America to receive widespread attention from the media. The four-year-old Ross and his five-year-old brother, Walter, were in the front yard of their Philadelphia home when a horse-drawn carriage pulled up and they were approached by two men who offered the boys candy and fireworks if they would take a ride with them. The boys agreed and they proceeded to a store where Walter was to purchase fireworks; however the carriage left without Walter and Charley was never seen again. The warning to not take candy from strangers is said to have come from this affair.



When the name Spencer Talus is announced as a participant in the strike-out contest, Professor Childermass recognizes this as Sloane’s robot [The Eyes of the Killer Robot; 152].

In Greek mythology, Talos was a giant man of bronze who protected the island Crete. The Argo, transporting Jason and the Argonauts, approached Crete after obtaining the Golden Fleece and its bronze guardian kept the ship at bay by hurling boulders at it. The towering giant had one vein that ran from his neck to his ankle, bound shut by only one bronze nail; he was eventually defeated when the nail was removed and "the ichor ran out of him like molten lead.” In Edmund Spenser's allegorical poem the Faerie Queene, Talus appears but now made of iron. The figure’s most memorable appearance was in the film Jason and the Argonauts (1963) where he is a stop-motion animation figure created by Ray Harryhausen.


Edward Teach

Johnny liked to read stories of both fictional pirates and real ones, such as this 18th Century terror of the seas [The Wrath of the Grinning Ghost; 7].

Edward Teach (1680-1718) was a notorious English pirate, better known as Blackbeard, who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of the American colonies. Although little is known about his early life, he is thought to have been born in England and later settled on the Caribbean island of New Providence. A shrewd and calculating leader, Teach spurned the use of force, relying instead on his fearsome image to elicit the response he desired from those he robbed. Romanticized after his death, Blackbeard became the inspiration for a number of pirate-themed works of fiction across a range of genres.