Friday, 27 January 2012

Adam Worth, Moriarty and Mr Hyde

Adam Worth

Adam Worth was an American criminal, oft dubbed 'the Napoleon of Crime'. In about 1869 he moved to England, and continued his exploits there. He organised a criminal network that perpetrated robberies, and had escaped from SingSing prison in America at one time during his early career. He had a long and exciting career that would probably make a good book and movie. (There is apparently one movie, Harry and Walter Go To New York but it is not based on reality.)

Worth is believed to have been the inspiration for Conan Doyle's Professor Moriarty, nemesis of Sherlock Holmes. He is highly intelligent, a worthy adversary for Holmes. I think Worth would have loved to be portrayed as someone who could almost foil even the master of detectives.

Professor Moriarty from The Final Problem. By Sidney Paget.

When I found out Adam Worth was the inspiration for Moriarty, I was interested, because I remembered that there was a character called Adam Worth in Sanctuary, who was indeed a criminal mastermind. In the series, Worth was a contemporary of the 'five', Helen and her original group at university. However they did not let him join their group. Later, due to the death of his beloved daughter, he suffered a mental severing and became, in effect, the character of Jekyll and Hyde, one part of him an intensely evil criminal mastermind, the other, weaker part the original Adam. Adam was an interesting character, and it is quite clever how they melded the two personalities: that of an intelligent scientist turned into a monster (Jekyll and Hyde) with that of an ingenious criminal.

Adam Worth in Sanctuary

Macavity the Mystery Cat in TS Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (Later the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Cats) is also based on Worth.

Of course there are no photos of him, for he is never to be found. Just a few photos of humans in cat suits pretending to be him. 


  1. your comments on my blog are always so nice :)

    do you watch sherlock? i'm obsessed right now

  2. I have a book on this guy. It's awesome. Let me go get it. LOL! Found it. The Napoleon of Crime: The Life and Times of Adam Worth, Master Thief by Ben Macintyre. Did you read this book? I watched Sherlock last night. That guy is crazy!!!

    Now I have to go back and read this book. Not since 1997. Great post!