Arthur Gask, 1869-1951

Biographical note

Gask emigrated to Adelaide, South Australia in 1920, where he set up practice as a dentist. He began writing crime fiction while waiting for his patients and in 1921 paid for the publication of his first novel, The Secret of the Sandhills, which was an immediate success.

Over a period of forty years Gask wrote over thirty books as well as contributing short stories to The Mail in Adelaide. Most of his novels described the activities of a detective, Gilbert Larose, in solving crimes. Gask's work was translated into several European languages, serialised in newspapers and broadcast on radio. He also wrote short stories.

H. G. Wells, an admirer of Gask's work, corresponded with Gask. Wells regarded The Vengeance of Larose (1939) as Gask's "best piece of story-telling...It kept me up till half-past one." Bertrand Russell, also an admiring reader, called to see Gask at Gask's home in Walkerville, an Adelaide suburb, when he was in Adelaide in August 1950. Gask was reported to have been delighted when, within a few hours after his arrival in Adelaide, Lord Russell called in and spent about an hour and a half with him. Russell confided that he was a reader of Mr. Gask's books in England, and said that now they were so near to each other he felt he really must make his acquaintance. Lord Russell was 78 at the time and Arthur Gask was 81.

When nearly 80, Gask was still turning out two 80,000-words novels a year, and was reported to have got out of bed to write 23 pages and complete his final novel, Crime After Crime.

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