Arthur D. Howden Smith

Arthur D. Howden Smith
Arthur D. Howden Smith

Arthur D. Howden Smith was one of the most talented writers of his time. His works covered mainly Adventures, where he often created series. Besides being a writer, he was also a journalist and historian. This explains his interest in writing the biographies of reputable individuals in society. Commodore Vanderbilt: An Epic of American Achievement is one such highly acclaimed biographies. The author was a member of VMRO, a revolutionary national liberation movement based in Ottoman territories. Arthur D. Howden Smith would later narrate his experiences via the book Fighting the Turk in the Balkans.

Early life

Arthur Douglas Howden was born on December 29th, 1887, in New York City. Very little is known about his personal life, apparently because he was an introvert. That is quite ironic for a man who also had an interest in writing about prominent people’s biographies.

The few personal details known about Arthur Douglas Howden are that he was a member of VMRO. He joined the revolutionary national liberation movement in 1907, aged about 20 years. Initially developed with the aim of gaining autonomy for Macedonia, VMRO expanded its area of focus to completely defeat the Ottomans.

Having spent more than a year in the Balkans roaming and fighting with them, he became an expert in the Balkan problem. This experience would, later on, come in handy in uplifting the author’s career. It opened the way for him to write numerous articles on the Balkan situation. When he came back to the United States, Howden Smith turned his attention on reporting for the New York Evening Post.

He was married to Nora Pinkney, with whom they had a daughter by the name Nora. Their daughter died as a child around 1920. There are no records suggesting that they had any other child. Some post World War II draft notes show the author mentioning his wife as Dorothy, but there is no evidence of any marriage.


Smith started his career by publishing several fictional stories in pulp magazines. He was particularly interested in the Adventure domain. Here, he wrote several sea stories regarding the adventures of Captain McConaughy. His deep love and expertise in fictional stories saw him create several fiction publications for Blue Book.

His most famous work was the Grey Maiden series, which revolved around a cursed sword created under the leadership of Egyptian Pharaoh. Beyond the Sunset was equally massively successful, telling the adventures of Harry Ormerod.

Smith is also known for The Doom Trail, published in 1921. As a big admirer of Robert Stevenson, Smith wrote Porto Bello Gold, a prequel to Treasure Island in which Robert goes to the sea alongside renowned pirates Billy Bones, Long John Silver, and Captain Flint. His other works include a sequel of Alan Breck Again.


  1. he looks very much like President Wilson…
    what a fantastic expedition! from the New World to Macedonia, of all places!
    – It is a bit as if the idea would cross your mind, that a certain Alexis de Tocqueville had a dear and controversial friend reporting from, say Persia – its religions and philosophies.
    From the archetypal Lawrence of Arabia to this American from New York city to ‘the gentleman on the outposts, Arthur de Gobineau, 1816-1882’ – historiography is indeed replete of examples of that relentless urge to indulge the Orient…


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