C/N:Ghostbusters material have given two completely different origins for the writer of the famous spirit guide. Each follows in choronological order of it's appearance
First Version, from the Ghostbusters International role playing game:
What do we know about John Horace Tobin? Not much, because the guy didn't like to write about himself too often. But from what he did put down, and what other writers have said about him, we can tell you this: He was born in London in 1870 or thereabout -- the only child of a very well-to-do family. His father made a fortune in business, which made it possible for him to spend much of his recorded life traveling and researching spirit phenomenon. Before he even knew what his lifeís work would be, Tobin had prepared himself well for it. He was educated at Oxford, where he earned two degrees -- one in Obscure Ancient Languages and one in Psychology. Instead of working for his father, which he surely could have done if he had wanted to, he went out to find his own way in the world. For the last few years of the nineteenth century he worked as a record-keeper and middle-management type for a British trading company in Egypt. It was during this time that he got hooked on pyramids and pharaohs and all that stuff. He describes in the Ahagotsu Affair, this eventually led him into exploration of the spirit world. He wasnít the world's first Ghostbuster -- many other people had investigated paranormal phenomena before him -- but he sure was one of the most energetic. From the turn of the century until at least 1920, when his book was published, he spent practically all of his time studying spirits.
Here's a rough reconstruction of where he went during those 20 years:
Late 1899 to 1900: In Egypt, tying up the Ahagotsu Affair; miscellaneous exploration.
1901-02: Established an office in London, with Shrewsbury Smith as his assistant and collaborator. By placing advertisements in newspapers and other periodicals in and around London, Tobin was more than moderately successful in getting people to come to him with their stories of contacts with the spirit world. He must have talked to an enormous number of crackpots, and his training in psychology helped him to separate the flakes from the people who were telling the truth. Tobin made some mistakes (For example, see the introduction to the section on Eastern Europe.), but for the most part he was pretty good at reading people.
1903-05: A series of short jaunts into France, Germany, and the Low Countries, sort of an extended working vacation. Shrewsbury Smith went hack to London by himself a few times, presumably to clean out the mailbox and renew the lease on the office. By the time he finished his hook. Tobin could read and write at least four foreign languages (French, German, Dutch, and Russian.) and could speak a half-dozen others well enough to make himself understood on a simple level.
1905-06: Another period in the London office.
1907-11: A long expedition into Eastern Europe, and then southward through Turkey into Mesopotamia, because the extremely ancient civilizations of Egypt and the Middle Fast always were his first love.
1912-13: More channel hopping, following up leads uncovered from the mail in the London office. Tobin's timing was lucky, because by the time World War I broke out he had gathered all the information he needed from the Continent. And fortunately, for his work, he escaped serving in the British army because he was too old to be drafted.
1914-16: Back to Egypt, a trip he bad been postponing for several years, maybe because he enjoyed the feeling of being able to look forward to it. He and Smith ranged up and down the Nile, from Alexandria to Aswan. They went by ship from Suez to Aseb, at the southernmost edge of the Red Sea, and back again. This excursion ended with a foray north to Damascus and then fast to Beirut, where they caught a steamer headed for England. The area they traveled through was occupied by Turkish forces, but since there was no open conflict at the time it was not especially dangerous-at least, no more dangerous than a camelback ride through hundreds of miles of desert is under normal circumstances. Again, Tobin seems to have had some sixth sense about not getting caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Just months after he left the Middle East, British troops descended on Palestine and began driving the Turks back.
1917-18: Tobin stayed home until the war drew to a close, doing more research and probably composing a lot of the final manuscript of the book.
1919: Immediately after the armistice was signed, Tobin began making plans for a brief trip to the United States, to round out his research. He stayed only two or three months, never venturing far away from the eastern seaboard, and came back to put the finishing touches on the book, which was supposed to have been received by the publisher no later than mid-February of 1920. The fact that he missed his deadline by a couple of weeks does not appear to have caused any problems.
What did Tobin do after the book was finished? That's pretty much a mystery. All we know for sure is that he had no intention of calling it quits. He writes about wanting to make another, much longer trip to the U.S. As air travel became more sophisticated and less risky, he may have decided to head out for more far-flung places, such as Australia, China, or South America. If he did so, he must have traveled alone or with a new companion, because Shrewsbury Smith died in 1924. For all we know, after Shrewsbury's death John Horace Tobin vanished from the face of the earth. But he was of robust health, and he could easily have lived another 10 or 15 years. If he did continue his work, which seems almost a certainty, why didn't he publish another book? The only reason we can come up with is that he died suddenly and unexpectedly, and probably in a place where the people didn't know how important he was. Maybe the notes will turn up someday and maybe in the same way that this book did. Maybe we havenít found them yet because the spirit of John Horace Tobin is still doing research, in a place to which he could never have traveled while he was alive. And if we're really lucky, he'll deliver them personally when he's done. .(Ghostbusters International Tobin's Spirit Guide sourcebook)
Second Version, from Now's RGB Vol.2
In 1 A.D., the Council of Eight, self-proclaimed "Guardians of the Universe", selected a thirty-five year old Alexandrian scribe named Tobin to replace Carthio as the "Chronicler of the Spirits". Tobin was reputedly the writer of the famous occult compendium, Tobin's Spirit Guide. (RGB Vol. II #0)