The list of characters who crop up throughout my two novels, The Merry Millionaire and Pomp and Circumstance: further adventures of the Merry Millionaire, are worth a mention in their own right.
Since my leading men, Ronald Fry and Mervyn Watson, are both based on real people, I have thought to populate my stories with equally factual individuals whom Ron and Mervyn could quite easily have encountered on their adventures in Egypt and elsewhere.
Therefore, I have the greatest pleasure to introduce to you my company of characters with the hope you will find them as fascinating as I do myself.
The gentleman on the left of this picture is Count Laszlo Almasy a character who appears in my novel ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ and interestingly has become the main player in an iconic novel and subsequently a popular movie. To give him his full name, Laszlo Ede Almasy de Zsadany et Torokszentmiklos (22 August 1895-22 March 1951) was a Hungarian aristocrat, motorist, desert explorer, aviator, Scout leader and sportsman who also served as the main character in Michael Ondaatje’s Booker prize winning novel, The English Patient and the 1996 movie adaptation. Although the casting of Ralph Fiennes has somewhat glamorised Laszlo into a rather more handsome man than he was in real life. During World War Two, Count Almasy acted as a German spy, his chief exploits, Operation Salem, to infiltrate two German Intelligence agents, Johannes Eppler and his radio operator, Hans-Gerd Sandstede, through the British lines and into Egypt. For this Almasy was awarded The Iron Cross.
Letters discovered in 2010 in Germany written by Almásy prove that, unlike the fictionalized character of the film The English Patient, he was in fact homosexual. His lover was a young soldier named Hans Entholt who was an officer in the Wehrmacht who was killed after stepping on a landmine. A staff member of the Heinrich Barth Institute for African Studies, where the letters are located, also confirmed that “Egyptian princes were among Almásy’s lovers”. The letters also confirmed that Almásy died from amoebic dysentery, in 1951.
On meeting Mervyn and Ron at Baron Empaine’s party, Almasy becomes taken with Mervyn and since Almasy is the Chief Scout of the Cairo Scout Troop, he invites Ron and Mervyn to a jamboree the following day.
Count Laszlo Almasy, a colourful character, in both life and fiction.