Professor Challenger
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Basic Information

It's been said that although Sherlock Holmes was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous creation, his favorite was Professor George Edward Challenger, the central character of his novel The Lost World; a blustering, bellicose, bullying champion of SCIENCE with an ego as large as a brontosaurus and an apatasaurs laid end-to-end.

He was born in the town of Largs in Scotland in 1863 and studied at Edinburgh University. His ciriculum vitae in The Lost World reads:

"'Challenger, George Edward. Born: Largs, N. B., 1863. Educ.: Largs Academy; Edinburgh University. British Museum Assistant, 1892. Assistant-Keeper of Comparative Anthropology Department, 1893. Resigned after acrimonious correspondence same year. Winner of Crayston Medal for Zoological Research. Foreign Member of… Societe Belge, American Academy of Sciences, La Plata, etc., etc. Ex-President Palaeontological Society. Section H, British Association' … 'Publications: "Some Observations Upon a Series of Kalmuck Skulls"; "Outlines of Vertebrate Evolution"; and numerous papers, including "The underlying fallacy of Weissmannism," which caused heated discussion at the Zoological Congress of Vienna. Recreations: Walking, Alpine climbing. Address: Enmore Park, Kensington, W.'

A brilliant zoologist and evolutionary biologist, he has no patience at all for fools — meaning everyone who is not G.E.C. — and a positive talent for offending and alienating people. "…Just a homocidal megalomaniac with a turn for science," is how one newspaper editor privately described him; and indeed, Challenger has a record of physically assaulting reporters who annoy him.

Around 1910, Challenger was on an expedition to the Amazon when he came across a remote plateau in the jungle which seemed to be the home of creatures long thought to be extinct. He named the plateau Maple-White Land after the American artist whose journal led him to it. Unfortunately, much of the evidence he gathered was lost in the trip back to civilization, and his scientific colleagues refused to believe him. When a new expedition was mounted in 1912 to test his claims, he assumed leadership of it. He was able to bring back a baby pterodactyl as proof of their discoveries, but the creature sadly escaped and flew away.

The following year, he discovered that the earth would soon pass through a band in the Lumineferous Aether inimicable to life. Summoning his friends to his home, they were able to wait out the catastrophe which, to everyone's relief, merely put everything on earth in a state of sleep for twenty-four hours.

Like his creator, late in life, Challenger became interested in spiritualism and convinced of the existance of life after death.

Although argumentative and offensive to the first degree, Challenger was also deeply loyal to those who had gaind his friendship. He had a particularly tender and loving relationship with his wife, who idolized him, but not afraid to scold him when she feared his temper was harming his own reputation.

Physically, Challenger was short but broad shouldered with a powerful, muscular torso; and had a bushy black beard. The narrator of The Lost World liked to compare him to an Assyrian bull. Later on in the novel, though, the characters meet a tribe of missing links who bear a remarkable resemblence to him. Yes, the great evolutionary biologist looks like an ape.

Philip José Farmer, in his writings on the Wold-Newton Family, has suggested that Professor Challenger and Monk Mayfair from the Doc Savage novels are related.


3. The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at Project Gutenberg
4. The Poison Belt at Project Gutenberg

Game and Story Use

  • Professor Challenger could be an interesting character to meet in a historical or time-travel campaign
  • He could also be the template for a scientific PC.
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