Name: De Fauvier
First Appearance: Action Comics (vol. 1) #19 (Dec. 1939): "Superman and the Purple Plague"
Number of Appearances: 1
Note: wrote key study on Purple Plague
De Fauvier is the author of the key study of the Purple Plague. The writer of this important volume was mentioned in Action Comics #19 (Dec. 1939), but was never actually seen.
When a mysterious plague started killing people after giving them purple rashes all over their skin, Clark Kent sought desperately to find a cure. He met with a brilliant young scientist, Professor Henry Travers, who said he had a theory about the plague. Travers told Kent, "If you check up on your history, Clark, you'll find that back in the Middle Ages mankind was blighted by what was also known as the Purple Plague. It's my belief that we're experiencing a reoccurrence of that same disease!"
Clark Kent asked, "But what can we do about stamping it out?"
Travers answered, "That's just what I'd like to know. There's a rare volume on that disease, in the library. Would you care to look at it . . . You might unearth some interesting material for your newspaper."
Clark Kent and Professor Travers went to the library. Travers asked the librarian, "May we see De Fauvier's study of the "Purple Plague"?
The librarian said Travers would have to wait his turn. Another man, who had been visiting the library frequently, was reading the book now. Clark Kent and Travers watched as an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair, pushed by a nurse, brought the book back to the librarian and turned it in. What Clark Kent and Travers did not realize was that the elderly wheelchair-bound reader was actually Superman's arch-enemy, the Ultra-Humanite!
(As an aside, it does strike this modern reader as somewhat humorous to see Superman's arch-enemy at the time dutifully turning in a library book, a book he has been reading carefully in order re-create a plague that he intended to use to wipe out all humanity except for his chosen few. With such a grand and deadly scheme, this arch-villain somehow never considered just stealing a copy of this book! Nor does the villain seem to realize that his enemies on the side of law and decency will use this very book to help them find a cure for his plague.)
Anyway, Travers and Clark Kent consult the book and realize, in Travers' words: "You see, it's just as I told you -- the symptoms are exactly the same!"
Later Travers tells Clark Kent, "Guided by the information in that book, I've been conducting experiments to battle the plague. Would you like to see what I've accomplished?"
It is not an easy road for Travers, and there are setbacks, but eventually his research and testing, having been aided by De Fauvier's book, results in a cure for the deadly plague that killed so many and could have decimated all humanity.
Although never explicitly stated in this story, it is reasonable to assume from the context and comparison to similar historical events and associated figures that the fictional scientist/physician/writer De Fauvier was French and at least nominally Catholic.
In this same story, Superman invokes the memory of Louis Pasteur in order to inspire Travers to keep working on developing a cure (page 9). Pasteur was a 19th Century French chemist microbiologist. Like most of his countrymen of the time, Pasteur was Catholic, although he was not as ardent a churchgoer as many of his family members. It is likely that Jerry Siegel had Pasteur in mind when he invented "De Fauvier."
Suggested links for further research about this character and the character's religious affiliation: