Sunday, 20 September 2009

me and hannibal fogg

My name is Martin Potter (No Harry jokes please!) and I am originally from the beautiful Clifton area of Bristol. I work in HR and have a massive interest in Pink Floyd, and I’m an especial fan of the Floyd sound tracked movies by Barbet Schreoder- More and La Vallee- both of which I own along with a ton of late 1960s concert footage. I have also always been fascinated by early science fiction and it was doing a search for Jules Verne that turned me onto Hannibal Fogg, since there was some web discussion that Fogg was the real life (and name) inspiration for Phileas Fogg in around the world in 80 days. I did some more digging and discovered that Hannibal Fogg’s uncle Peter Fogg, who also attended Jesus College Oxford University  and was president of the Oxford Union in Micahaelmas term 1859, was in Paris in the 1860s and was known for his eccentric ways. It is certain Verne would have heard of him and stored away the name for later use in the novel which was published in 1873.

I found out about the Hannibal Fogg society (which has a fairly sparse website though I am told they are working on it) and discovered that there is a whole history out there waiting to be publicized. The Fogg society is in the process of republishing some of Hannibal’s most important monographs. Also his long poem, The Serpent and the Vine, some of which the secretary Mark Ellsworthy was kind enough to email me: and I was blown away. Hannibal Fogg has a mind of such width of interest and knowledge it would be hard not to be totally impressed. And please excuse the fact that when I am talking of Hannibal I use the present tense- there is a reason for that- namely that Mark told me the Fogg society receives two or three reports a month that Fogg is still alive!


Mad though that may sound I decided to investigate further- and this blog is the result. Apologies for its rough and ready appearance- I’m working on it- meanwhile I am hot on the trail of the latest reports of Fogg being sighted. Fogg was a strange man who visited almost every country on the planet- lomg before it was easy to do so. He knew many many famous and infamous people and was also subject to a vindictive campaign after his so called death (variously reported as Lahore India 1938 or Bromsgrove, Worcestershire 1942). But neither of these places have any records that I can find that definitively put Fogg there for when he is supposed to have died. My own view, which is supported by the arcane metaphors of the Serpent and the Vine- is that Fogg mastered some technique of suspended animation which he learnt from the Tibetan monks who to this day practise hibernation. This will be this blogs starting point: visiting the Tibetan monks and checking it out for real. If there is even a remote chance Fogg learnt this technique (and he wrote a monograph on it so my guess is he did) then it is indeed possible that Hannibal Fogg is out there and still alive, strange though that may seem. There are attested cases of Georgians and inhabitants of the Gilgit valleys (see Frank Smythe’s Valley of the Flowers) living for 160 years or more. Fogg was born exactly 148 years ago- it’s possible!


The aim of the blog is to visit as many of the places where Fogg is known to have traveled. To meet the few people still alive who met him and to co-ordinate and investigate all reports  (PHOTOS TOO PLEASE!) of sightings of Hannibal Fogg.