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Full Name: Paul Vivanti
Nationality: British
Organization: None
Occupation Other - Evil Genius

Creator: Sydney Horler
Time Span: 1925 - 1945


Paul Vivanti is a British evil genius.

It is important to state up front that each of those three words of description are very important to understanding the series of adventures that the British Secret Service as a whole and several agents of it specifically will undertake in order to stop the man from carrying out his ultimate plan - the destruction of Great Britain.

Once the most celebrated nerve-specialist in Harley Street [London}, lately the controller of a world-wide gang of criminals. 

He was one of the pioneers in the new medical treatment known as 'organotherapy' having worked with a famous researcher named Meyerbach in Vienna many years before. He was highly regarded in the medical and scientific communities and was well known in the business world as well. That was all before it was known what kind of man he really was.

His descriptions are many and all of them give the same sort of eerie feeling about him. "[Vivanti's] face was suddenly transfigured. Evil it had looked before, but now it became devilish." "[He had] unnaturally long fingers frequently said to be about to "twine around" throats of people he became upset with." 

Also, he possessed a "voice that held a whip-lash authority" with a "tone [that] was sharp, business-like, extraordinarily compelling". "Of slight - almost childish - build, his huge head dominated his seemingly frail body. It was remarkable head, bald in front and protruding in a bulge behind - the head of a great genius - or of a great criminal". "His face was pale, and this pallor was accentuated by carmine lips - lips so read that they might have been painted. From out the death-like pallor of his face, huge deep-set eyes glowed with an unnatural light. A man driven by a devil, some would have said. An evil in human guise."

     Vivanti's membership in this compendium comes because his efforts to first dominate the country and then, when stymied by agents of British Intelligence, destroy it. His will not be a single attempt - his genius would not only get him close to success but also make sure that when he is stopped, he had an escape route that allowed him to get away to try again. And again. And again.

     His hatred and his avarice will be even take him, during the Second World War, to Germany and a meeting with Adolph Hitler to help bring down Britain, twenty years after he first started his reign of terror.

     Combatting him will be operatives, sometimes amateurs and other times experienced professionals, under the direction of Sir Herbert Mandeville, the Secretary of the National Security Department. 


Number of Books:6
First Appearance:1925
Last Appearance:1945

1 The Mystery of No. 1 The Mystery of No. 1
aka The Order of the Octopus
Written by Sydney Horler
Copyright: 1925

Though published in book form under the name shown above, the adventure was serialized in six sequential issues of Top-Notch Magazine, from Feb. 15 to May 1, 1926 under the name The Order of the Octopus.
The Order of the Octopus is the name adopted by the handful of members of the group organized by Paul Vivanti. A Chinese man who controls most crime in the Far East, a Count who "rules" the underworld in Central Europe, and a beautiful and extremely dangerous woman feared and desired all over the Continent, are eager to unite with Vivanti as the leader to extend their crime domination. Put to stop him is a young but earnest British agent named Peter Foyle.

2 Vivanti Vivanti
Written by Sydney Horler
Copyright: 1927

[plot unknown]

3 The Worst Man in the World The Worst Man in the World
Written by Sydney Horler
Copyright: 1929

Once more Paul Vivanti has come up with another plan to destroy the hated United Kingdom. Unfortunately to put it into action he needs money - a lot of money. Fortunately, there are a good number of elderly rich men who will pay just about all their wealth to be given a little more time on this planet, something unscrupulous Vivanti is promising. 

4 Vivanti Returns Vivanti Returns
Written by Sydney Horler
Copyright: 1931

Once again Dr. Paul Vivanti has plans for exacting his revenge against his homeland and Peter Foyle is asked again to come to forefront to stop him. This latest scheme involves poisoning the reservoir that provides the majority of water to London in an attempt to kill every man, woman, and child who partakes of it.

5 Lord Of Terror Lord Of Terror
Written by Sydney Horler
Copyright: 1935

Sir Brian Fordinghame, the Chief of Y.1, a section of British Intelligence, must contend with the return of Dr. Paul Vivanti. In this adventure, Vivanti has teamed up with Kuhnreich, the dangerous and almost demonic dictator of Ronstadt, to use a fantastic device to render powerless all of Britain's aircraft, leaving that nation defenseless from the air.

6 Virus X Virus X
Written by Sydney Horler
Copyright: 1945

More determined than ever to see the country of England totally eliminated, Paul Vivanti is nevertheless still interested in profiting from his genecidal inclinations so he travels to Germany to try and sell his newest creation, Virus X, to Hitler. This deadly weapon is really a bacteria, not a virus, but its victim success rate is 100%. It will fall to British secret agent Peter Foyle to, well, foil that plot.


     Most things written in the last half century concerning the works of Sydney Horler have been less than positive. He is considered a hack who was astonishingly quite popular nevertheless and since he was also very prolific, there are a ton of examples of it.

     IMHO, the comments are correct. He was very productive and not very good. But he sure does seem to have been well received by the reading public and I believe had I been among them back then, I would have been scarfing down his output along with them.

     I love B-movies and B-series and like to think I have good enough taste to recognize both. The Vivanti tales definitely are B-series adventures.

     Vivanti is super over-the-top hatred-filled evil. He is also a criminal genius who has unstoppable plans which get stopped by, more than once, either amateurs or fairly new-to-the-Intelligence-business operatives. Must have been embarrassing for him!


My Grade: B-


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