by Dennis E. Power
(with much assistance from Matthew Baugh, Win Eckert and Chuck Loridans)
In 1897 the
The Invisible Man was John Hawley Griffin whose exploits were first portrayed in H.G. Wells The Invisible Man. we do not know until the end of the book that he is approximately six feet tall, broad chested, bearded and has the condition known as albinism and so has white hair and beard and red eyes. The albinism was however not a result of the invisibility serum although it may have been a cause of it.
Mr. Wells does
too much on
John Hawley Griffin was an arrogant sort but he came by this arrogance naturally. The Griffins were the direct descendants of Gryffudd, one of the last Kings of Wales. They were also related to the Irish Griffiths, also an ancient Royal family. The Irish name oddly enough means ruddy one, something that John Hawley Griffin obviously was not. The family had fallen in status; one of their ancestors had been John Griffin, ancestor of Barons Griffin of Braybroke Castle of Northants. Rebecca, the daughter of the aforesaid John Griffin married Finn O'Brien, the Red Bull of Munster and brother-in-law to the 1st Baron Grebson.(1) The later day Griffins were however far from being titled and were firmly esconsced in the upper middle class.
father Robert, keenly felt the lost of his family's position and
family's lowered societal status was especially driven home by the fact
Robert Griffin had married into wealth and position. His wife was
Radcliffe b.1839 Phoebe was the daughter of Lord Michael Radcliffe,
several industries and manufacturing endeavors, and of Polly Ffoulkes,
of Sir Andrew Ffoulkes.(2) The
They decided to
the invitation of
In the early
1858, Phoebe gave birth to a beautiful daughter, Irene. Robert was
tired of living as a guest and very tired of Henry. In 1859, Robert
Phoebe and Irene returned to
The old saying
certainly true in the
to his in-law's house. He was informed that he could keep his position
bank but Phoebe's allowance would stop. This was how he learned that
leaving him. She left him for Henry Raymond with whom she had kept up a
passionate correspondence. Phoebe took Irene with her to
Robert did his
raised his son by himself. As John grew older, he could see that Phoebe
sneaked one in on him after all, for despite his pale features, John
Robert. Robert instilled in John the need to acquire position in
strive for success at all costs. Yet John, because of his condition was
constantly aware of stares and glares flashed at him. It did not help
was brilliant. His athletic build and willingness to fight stopped any
but it did not endear him to many of his peers. As he grew older he
more aware of being an object of disgust, pity or curiosity. At
John Hawley Griffin took a position as a chemical demonstrator at a provincial college. Professor Maxxon was Griffin's nominal superior. According to Griffin Maxxon was always attempting to spy on him and always after Griffin to let him review Griffin's work before it was to be published his findings. John Griffin was at this University for three years before contacting his father for money. When John went to the University the Griffins were not wealthy but not suffering either. It is probable that Griffin senior had owned some property from which he received an income. This was enough to send his son to University College. John Hawley Griffin was oblivious to the fact that his father had suffered some financial reversals. He spent all the money that his Father gave to him and continued convincing his Father that when he made his scientific breakthrough that they would be wealthy beyond dreams.
When Robert could not reimburse the money he had taken he shot himself rather than face the public humiliation of being an embezzler. It was shortly after Robert Griffin's death, according to the Wells' portrayal, that John Hawley achieved complete invisibility. He had however sort of rushed into the process. After first successfully making a cat invisible, he then tested the formula on himself. The effect was painful and apparently irreversible. Shortly after achieving invisibility he burned down the flat where he was staying.
Before he burnt down the flat however John Griffin first took care to place his three notebooks and chequebook in a safe place. Griffin claimed that he burned the tenement down because he was afraid that someone would steal his invisibility process. While this may have been the result of the psychosis that accompanied the invisibility drugs, it was probably only partially that. There is some evidence to suggest that unlike further compilations of the invisibility serum, the original one had a slightly different formulation. In the original serum the violent psychosis often associated with the drug manifested itself slowly, taking months to come to full term.
The real reason that Griffin started the fire was because his father's creditors were after him. He wanted to leave nothing behind that would be traceable. He probably did not intend to burn the flat down so much as burn all his non-essential papers and equipment but when the fire accidentally got out of hand, he thought little of allowing it to become fully involved. He reasoned that the flat was no doubt insured and a big fire would cover his trail better. Why did he wish to cover his trail? There are two reasons for this, because the drug was increasing his paranoia but also because he had a secret that he did not wish uncovered.
This secret was one that even his Father knew nothing about, since Robert Griffin would have considered this secret a betrayal and might have cut off all ties with his son.
John Hawley Griffin was married and had two sons. He had met a girl while in Chesilstowe; she was a relative of a member of the faculty. Her name was Rebecca Gray. She listened in on several of the classes John attended. Despite Rebecca being a young woman no one objected to her presence because she was not enrolled in the school. There was also an element of pity involved because of her condition. No, she was not another person with albinism but rather was blind. John Griffin was amazed when she did not turn away in disgust upon seeing him only to discover later that she could not see him. Although Rebecca was treated much like a child, John Griffin found her to be highly intelligent and capable as well as being a pretty girl with a very pleasant personality. He courted her, at first because he knew that he would never find another woman such as her, a beauty who would not look upon him with disgust but also because he had truly fallen in love with her.
It was the existence of his wife and his two boys that also drove Griffin to succeed in his experiments. The boys were perfect, without a hint of blindness or albinism. John Griffin had used a good portion of his father "investment" for his family's upkeep. When he discovered that his father was not only bankrupt but had also been embezzling money, John Hawley Griffin nearly panicked. He did not want any hint of scandal to touch his family nor did he could he stand to see them want for anything. When his father's creditors had tracked down John Hawley Griffin, he made certain that they could not find his wife and children. His desperation for success to erase the stain of his shame, to overcome his father's debts and to provide for his family were the main reasons that John Hawley, the scientist rushed to use his serum prior to having created a reagent.
After taking the serum and discovering that the effects were not temporary, he knew he had to find a reagent prior to announcing his discovery to the world. The story that Griffin told Dr. Kemp about living on the streets was only partially true. Griffin probably lived at his home, returning when his wife's domestic help left for the night. During the day he kept himself occupied by some petty thievery which also served to keep his family from severe financial straits. Griffin soon found however that a home with two small boys was not conducive to carrying out very delicate operations or research. Moreover he found his anger growing, exponentially in many cases and over the slightest provocation. For the safety of his children and to give him some peace and quiet in which to experiment, John Griffin traveled to Iping to try and find a reagent.
In Iping despite four months of relatively undisturbed work, he had been unable to find the reagent. His rages had growing in strength, as had his paranoia. As his paranoia had grown so did an odd feeling of omnipotence. John Hawley Griffin had been brought back to harsh reality when he realized that the funds that his wife had been sending him were depleted. Desperate and feeling defiant of God, he robbed a vicarage collection box. When the landlady of the room he rented threatened him with eviction, he threw off his face bandage and revealed his invisibility to her, shocking her. When a constable came to arrest him for the burglary at the vicarage, he fought several of the townspeople of Iping while undressing. Once undressed he was invisible. In his ensuing flight, the constable was knocked unconscious.
While Griffin fled from Iping he happened across a tramp outside of town. He convinced Mr. Marvel, the tramp, to become his accomplice in stealing back his precious notebooks. To cover Mr. Marvel's theft of the notebooks, Griffin embarked on a mini-wave of terrorism in Iping, hitting and tripping people, smashing windows and general acts of vandalism. After the notebooks had been rescued and fearful that his secret was going to be published and exposed, Griffin and Mr. Marvel embarked on a spree of thievery. The unseen Griffin emptied the tills of various banks and businesses while Mr. Marvel held the money in his pockets. The secret of the Invisible Man was out.
Mr. Marvel bolted from Griffin and took refuge in an inn called the Jolly Cricketers. He told the inn's patrons and proprietor that the Invisible Man was after him. They bolted the door. Enraged Griffin broke in a window and climbed into the Inn. He attempted to manhandle Mr. Marvel out of the window but the bartender shot at the unseen apparition and managed to wing Griffin. Griffin fled. He managed to bind his wound before too much blood loss had occurred.
Griffin fled to the nearby home of Dr. Kemp, his former classmate from University College. Griffin convinced Kemp of his invisibility and begged for a place to sleep. As Kemp allowed his visitor to sleep he read the newspaper's versions of Griffin's adventures and became convinced he was harboring a homicidal maniac. Kemp was convinced of this when Griffin woke in a fit of rage. Kemp had sent a note police and kept Griffin occupied by inquiring about his story.
As Griffin related his tale to Kemp he became ever more agitated. He launched into a paranoid fantasy of being an Invisible Emperor. The psychosis often later associated with the invisibility drugs had seized his mind. Why had it done so at this juncture after he having been invisible for many months? Well, as stated before his formula was slightly different than others that followed, he did not use as much of the ingredient monocaine, which was the ingredient that caused the psychosis. Yet even the smaller amount shortened his temper and dulled his moral conscience, allowing him to not experience feelings of guilt one would normally feel about torching a flat full of people. The serum that he created is believe to have been self-replicating and was non-reactive to his immune system; it may have in fact worked in conjunction with his immune system and some of his hormonal systems. A by-product of the invisibility seems to have been an increased vitality, stamina and strength.(4) The toxins that monocaine produced accrued in his system becoming greater when his immune system was taxed. The frequent colds and now fighting off the infection and shock caused by a gunshot, made his immune system work at a more increased rate and thus the toxins were also created at increased rate.
As Griffin finished telling his tale, he heard footsteps down on the lower floor. He wrestled with Kemp and undressed at the same time. Invisible once more he fled from Kemp's house and eluded the police. Taking Griffin's delirious ramblings as literal truth Dr. Kemp told Colonel Adyne, the head of the Burdock police that extraordinary measure had to be taken to capture him. All houses must be locked up, all food must be secured, powdered glass must be spread on the roads, etc.
The measures that Dr. Kemp suggested were immediately put into place and Griffin was a trapped man unable to escape from a police cordon even by train. There occurred in Hintondean a death that the esteemed Mr. Wells surmises was a murder done by John Hawley Griffin, the Invisible Man. A man was found with a broken arm and a smashed head in a gravel pit, a broken walking stick and a bloody iron rod next to him. The murdered man was supposedly of a gentle disposition and so it was deemed that he could not have any enemies. The only witness to this occasion was a child, "the assertion of a little girl to the effect that, going to her afternoon school, she saw the murdered man "trotting" in a peculiar manner across a field towards the gravel pit. "
It is quite probable that while in the throes of deep toxic psychosis, Griffin wantonly attacked and murdered this man, if I am allowed to play devil's advocate for a moment, let me offer another possibility.
possibility that Griffin took a piece of iron rod from a broken fence
to use as
a weapon and that Mr. Wicksteed struck at the floating object and
Invisible Man to fly into a rage. It is also possible that
My point is
that while it
is possible that
Once again John
eluded capture but was chased by police, Dr. Kemp and his neighbors.
attacked Kemp in public,
The loss of
also lowered the amount of toxins in his system, so John Griffin had a
of thought that he had not experienced for some time. He realized that
eventually go insane again, unless he lost another dangerous amount of
Before that happened he had to safeguard his family. He embarked on a
robberies and sent the money to his wife. He also desired that
Griffin discovered by accident that sexual activity kept his hormonal levels static and so the toxin levels did not rise out of control. Griffin's wife could not provide the needed outlet especially when she became pregnant for the third time. He told her he was taking a job with the government and would be gone for quite a while.
Griffin used streetwalkers at first, covering up most of his body and using the cover of darkness. But he was afraid of gaining too much attention and of catching disease. He heard of a girls' school run by a former Madam and decided to hide out there for a while. Using the young ladies as a fertile ground for control of his condition. However Griffin was exposed by a government sponsored group of agents known as the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and captured. He was more or less drafted to work for them. (5) He managed to make a deal with Campion Bond and Moriarty to further distance the tale of the Albino Invisible Man from his family. Part of the price for his services was to inform his wife and children that he had died honorably working for his Majesty's government. He would discover years later that Campion Bond reneged on that particular promise.
John Hawley Griffin used his middle name as his first name while he was with the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and gave them constantly false information about his background. Freed of constraint, Griffin was allowed to let his amoral impulses loose. In the league he killed without compunction yet even in the greatest throes of his psychosis, wanton killing held little allure for him. After a few years of service with the League, how many have not yet been disclosed by Her Majesty's government, seems to have disappeared from the sense of mankind. It is possible however that he discovered a cure for his invisibility using a blood filtration device. One of Sexton Blake's greatest foes was a man called Zenith the Albino. Could this have been a cured John Hawley Griffin or was Zenith perhaps one of the three children that he fathered while as Rosa Coote's School for Girls? This issue will be resolved when more information becomes available. As for one of the other children please visit the section entitled William Carpenter
Click here for a Griffin family tree graphic
1. Farmer, Philip Jose Tarzan Alive, addendum Three. pg. 226
2. Sir Andrew Ffoulkes was a member of the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel.
3. Irene Griffin later grew up to be a well known opera singer. She was involved with the King of Bohemia for a while. She was one of the few people to cross wits with Sherlock Holmes and best him. They began a long love affair that produced twin boys, one who became a great detective like his father and the other a master chef. Watson using his system of codified names gave Irene the name Adler. A Griffin or Gryphon is an Eagle Lion, Adler means Eagle in German. The Eagle also points to her American origins. It is unknown whether she knew about her connection to the Invisible Men or not.
4. This may explain the Invisible Man or Men's seeming enhanced strength and their ability to walk naked for hours and days in winter climes experiencing little worse than a deep chill.
seen in the League of Extraordinary Gentleman by Alan Moore Volume 1,
1897 Invisible Man by H.G. Well (John Hawley Griffin. OIM Original Invisible Man)
1898 League of Extraordinary Men (John Hawley Griffin)
1922 Invisible Man (John (Jack) Griffin)
1929 Invisible Murderer with William Carpenter as the Invisible Man
1931 Invisible Man's Return (Frank Griffin----- with Geoffrey Radcliffe as the IM
1935 Invisible Man's Revenge (Robert Griffin) the IM
1938 Invisible Woman (Kitty Caroll)
1942 (twenty years after Invisible Man) Invisible Agent (Frank Griffin a.k.a. Frank Raymond)
1948 Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (Geoffrey Radcliffe IM)
1949 Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (Tommy Nelson IM)
1966 Invisibility Affair Willard Morthley and Kerry Griffin inventors of the OTSMID (Omnidirectional Total Spectrum Molecular Interpenetration Device) which can render objects invisible
1974 Daniel Westin becomes an Invisible Man
1998 Darien Fawkes surgically implanted with quicksilver gland to become an Invisible Man
1999 Sebastian Caine has a brief and deadly career as an Invisible Man as seen in The Hollow Man