The Detection Club

The Detection Club

A list of known publications
Articles on the Detection Club
A History of rediscovering the publications
A list of past Detection Club presidents
Other Detection Club items
Book Forwards

A list of known publications in order of original publication date(s) (authors are listed in order of appearance).

  • The Scoop and Behind the Screen published by Harper and Row, 1983, Charter in 1984. The Scoop first appeared as a serial in The Listener in 1931. Written jointly by Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, E.C. Bentley, Anthony Berkeley, Freeman Wills Crofts, and Clemence Dane. Behind the Screen first appeared as a serial in The Listener in 1930. Written jointly by Hugh Walpole, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Anthony Berkeley, E.C. Bentley, and Ronald Knox.

  • The Floating Admiral published by Charter in April 1980, Berkley, July 1986. Copyright 1931, 1932 by Doubleday, Doran And Company, Inc. Written jointly by Dorothy L. Sayers, G.K. Chesterton, Canon Victor L. Whitechurch, G.D.H., M. Cole, Hentry Wade, Agatha Christie, John Rhode, Milward Kennedy, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ronald A. Knox, Freeman Wills Crofts, Edgar Jepson, Clemence Dane, and Anthony Berkeley.

  • Ask a Policeman published by Macmillan London Limited edition 1933, Berkley 1987. Written jointly by John Rhode, Helen Simpson, Gladys Mitchell, Anthony Berkeley, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Milward Kennedy.

  • The Anatomy of Murder published by John Lane/The Bodley Head 1936, Macmillan 1937, Berkley 1989. Written jointly by Helen Simpson, John Rhode, Margaret Cole, E.R. Punshon, Dorothy L. Sayers, Francis Iles, and Freeman Wills Crofts. Famous (real-life) crimes are critically considered. Berkley's 1989 edition only contains the stories by Helen Simpson, John Rhode, Margaret Cole, and E.R. Punshon

  • More Anatomy of Murder (originally appeared in a larger collection of stories under the title of The Anatomy of Murder published by John Lane/The Bodley Head 1936) was published by Berkley in 1990. Written jointly by Dorothy L. Sayers, Francis Iles, and Freeman Wills Crofts.

  • Detection Medley Hutchinson and Company, 1st edition, 1939. Edited by John Rhode. AA Milne, Margery Allingham, HC Bailey, EC Bentley, Nicholas Blake, J Dickson Carr, GK Chesterton, Agatha Christie, GDH and M Cole, JJ Connington, Freeman Wills Crofts, Carter Dickson, Edgar Jepson and Robert Eustace, R Austin Freeman, Anthony Gilbert, Lord Gorell, Ianthe Jerrold, Milward Kennedy, ECR Lorac, Arthur Morrison, The Baroness Orczy, ER Punshon, Dorthy L Sayers, Henry Wade, Hugh Walpole.

  • Double Death (?? full title??) published by Gollancz 1939, Double Death: An Exercise in Detection published by Gollancz in 1985, Double Death : A Murder Story (Lythway Large Print Series) - Published by Lythway in 1991??
    Double Death Library Binding, 208 Pages, Macmillan Library Reference, November 1991 ISBN: 0745113869 Author: Hume, David / Sayers, Dorothy L. / Crofts, Freeman W. / Jesse, F. Tennyson / / Williams, Valentine / Armstrong, Anthony
    Katsurou Hayashi writes:
    "I am living in Japan and interested in Classic Mysteries very much. I have some information about "Double Death" as follows.
    Authors: Prologue - John Chansler (spelling may be wrong) Part 1 - Dorothy L. Sayers Part 2 - Freeman W Crofts Part 3 - Valentine Williams Part 4 - Fryniwyd Tennyson Jesse (Mrs. H. M. Harwood) Part 5 - Anthony Armstrong Part 6 - David Hume
    As you know, this "Double Death" was published in 1939 by Detection Club. Crofts "Double Death" was published in 1932 in USA and completely different from Detection Club book. Crofts "Double Death" was originally published in 1932 in UK as named "Death on the Way"."
    Jim Devlin writes:
    "Double Death is subtitled "an excercise in detection." The authors involved were Sayers, Crofts, Valentine Williams, F. Tennyson Jesse, Anthony Armstrong, and David Hume. John Chancellor was the supervisor, though he doesn't make it clear, in his preface, that this was a Detection Club book. It was originally written for a paper called the SUNDAY CHRONICLE; my Gollancz reprint is from 1985."

  • Six Against the Yard published by Selwyn and Blount 1948, Berkley 1989. Written by Margery Allingham, Father Ronald Knox, Anthony Berkeley, Russell Thorndike, Dorothy L. Sayers and Freeman Wills Crofts with Ex-Superintendent Cornish, C.I.D. commenting on each author's crime.

  • Crime on the Coast and No Flowers by Request originally serialized separately. Crime on the Coast in the News Chronicle 1954 by John Dickson Carr, Valerie White, Laurence Meynell, Joan Fleming, Michael Cronin and Elizabeth Ferrars. No Flowers by Request 1953 in the Daily Sketch by Dorothy L. Sayers, E.C.R. Lorac, Gladys Mitchell, Anthony Gilbert and Christianna Brand. Published in one novel by Victor Gollancz Ltd 1984, Berkley 1987.

  • Verdict of Thirteen published by Faber and Faber Ltd 1978. Jointly written by P.D. James, Gwendoline Butler, Dick Francis, Michaels Gilbert, Christianna Brand, Michael Innes, Patricia Highsmith, Celia Fremlin, H.R.F. Keating, Michael Underwood, Ngaio March, Peter Dickinson, Julian Symons.

  • The Man Who... Published in honor of Julian Symons 80th birthday. Bristol Scorpion Press 1992, Macmillan 1992, signed limited edition published 1992 with an illustration by Gary Short. Original stories commissioned and edited by H R F Keating in honour of the eightieth birthday of the late Julian Symons. White leather spine with silver and black patterned marbled sides, silver top edge and patterned end papers. The first fifteen numbered copies were bound as de luxe copies and slipcased with an additional hand-written limitation page by Julian Symons. The Detection Club's first signed limited edition. Writers in this volume are: Catherine Aird, Eric Ambler, Simon Brett, Len Deighton, Antonia Fraser, Michael Gilbert, Reginald Hill, P D James, H R F Keating, Peter Lovesey, Ruth Rendell, George Sims, and Michael Underwood.
  • Articles on the Detection Club

  • House, Kay, Mysteries: Rules of the Genre, Vision, No. 9, May/June 2002, p. 137-144.

  • Reynolds, William, Collaborative Detective Publications in Britain 1931-1939," Clues, 9 (1988), 49-70.

  • Reynolds, William, The Detection Club on the Air: 'Behind the Screen' and "The Scoop.'" Clues, 4 (1983), 1-20.

    A history of rediscovering the publications

    In the introduction of 1978's Verdict of 13, Julian Symonds, President of the Detection Club, writes that the detection club was founded in 1932 and had two earlier publications - 1932 Floating Admiral and 1936 The Anatomy of Murder.

    In 1984 Charter edition of The Scoop and Behind the Screen, Julian Symons, in the preface, writes that he made a mistake in the introduction of 1978's verdict of 13, by saying the club was founded in 1932 (since the serials went on the air in 1930 and 1931). The founding date of the club had been assumed to be 1932, since that is when a book of Constitution and Rules was dated. Efforts to find the founding date resulted in: A letter written to the Times Literary Supplement in 1930, signed by several members of The Detection Club, and a claim by member Anthony Berkeley that the club was founded in 1928. Julian Symons was "prepared to settle for 1930" unless other documents appeared. Julian Symons also writes that "Other books with the same purpose, also the product of several hands, were The Floating Admiral(1931), which has recently been reprinted; Ask a Policeman(1933), soon to reappear; and of course the recent Verdict of Thirteen, already mentioned. There are other titles, too, but since I have not seen most of them, I shall not take the risk of mentioning the books."

    In the 1989 Berkley edition of Six Against the Yard, Ask a Policeman, Crime on the Coast and No Flowers by Request, The Floating Admiral, The Scoop and Behind the Screen, and Six Against the Yard are all listed as Berkley Mysteries by the Detection Club.

    In 1990 Berkley edition of More Anatomy of Murder, The Anatomy of Murder, Ask a Policeman, Crime on the Coast and No Flowers By Request, The Floating Admiral, More Anatomy of Murder, and The Scoop and Behind the Screen are all listed as Berkley Mysteries by the Detection Club. (Six Against the Yard did not appear here.)

    A list of past Detection Club presidents (most of this is taken from Julian Symons in the introduction of Charter's 1984 version of The Scoop and Behind the Screen).

    G.K. Chesterton year of the first dinner-1936
    E.C. Bentley 1936-1949
    Dorothy L. Sayers 1949-1958
    Agatha Christie 1958-1976 (with the assistance of Lord Gorell 1958-1963 "who because of Mrs. Christie's extreme shyness, undertook to propose toasts and make introductory speeches")
    Julian Symons 1976-1985
    H.R.F. Keating 1987-

    Other Detection Club Items

    A Reprint of the Detection Club's Oath

    Graphics and Text Software - THE SCOOP - Based on a murder mystery by AGATHA CHRISTIE and other members of the London Detection Club. Spinnaker published Telarium Software THE SCOOP in 1989. You're the new reporter at the Daily Courier and you've just been scooped. Geraldine Tracey is murdered; no one knows who did it; your rivals from the Morning Star have beat you to the story; and your editor is furious! You'll have to work quickly and carefully to solve the murder. It features more than 30 animated characters with over 80 locations set in and around London. You see the mystery unfold as you move your investigative reporter and interact with his or her surroundings though obvious-to-use menus. Interrogate suspects, eavesdrop on conversations, search rooms, gather evidence, and do it all rapidly and easily, with no cumbersome typing of words or sentences.
    Enclosed also is the book, the 1 page newspaper (approx. 14x23 and Mint) and last but not least the 2 5.25" floppies. Box says...IBM PC/AT/XT;Tandy 1000/3000 and True IBM Compatibles. Requires DOS 2.0 or higher, 256K for CGA & Tandy Graphics. 512K for EGA, MCGA & UGA. 5.25" Drive. Picture of The Scoop computer game

    BEHIND THE SCREEN Based on a Murder Mystery by AGATHA CHRISTIE and Other Members of the LONDON DETECTION CLUB..YOU_ SOLVE_IT A challanging VCR MYSTERY GAME for ARMCHAIR DETECTIVEs. UNLIMITED REPLAY--OVER 250 different endings! Includes VHS TAPE, detectives notepad, answer book, solution decoder, 8 detective cards. First made in 1986. Also made in 1989 by spinnaker software corp
    Picture of Behind The Screen VHS Game

    THE SCOOP Based on a Murder Mystery by Agatha Christie and Other Members of the London Detection Club. A challenging VCR Mystery Game from 1987, made by spinnaker. Picture of The Scoop VHS Game
    Geralydne Tracey has been found murdered in a lonely apartment outside Boston. Shortly after Mrs. Tracey's death, James Johnson, a local reporter covering the story for WDOA TV Station, discovers the murder weapon, only to fall victim to it himself. Getting the story becomes a dangerous assignment. Who could be responsible for the double murder? Was it Henry Fisher, Geraldyne 's boyfriend? The supicious housekeeper, Gladys Sharp? Perhaps her own sister, Angela? Everyone's alibis seem above suspicion. Delve deeper and the real murder er will be uncovered. Remember, everything is not as it seems. During your inves tigation, some people will tell the truth and others will not. It is up to you t o establish a motive for murder.
    EQUIPMENT:video cassette tape with more than 250 plot twists.
    1 Dectective's Notepad
    1 Answer Book
    1 Solution Decoder Sheet
    8 Detective Cards

    On a web page on Lucy Beatrice Malleson, 1899-1973 it says that she wrote more than 60 novels under various pseudonyms including Anthony Gilbert (see No Flowers By Request). Malleson was a founding member of the Detection Club and served as its general secretary. She also published an autobiography, Three-a-Penny . On the web page David Williams was elected to the Detection club in 1988.


    The Floating Admiral - 1931: by Dorothy L. Sayers. When members of the official police force are invited to express and opinion about the great detectives of fiction, they usually say with a kindly smile: "Well, of course it's not the same for them as it is for us. The author kows beforehand who did the job, and the great detective has only to pick up the clues that are laid down for him. It's wonderful," they indulgently add, "the clever ideas these authors hit upon, but we don't think they would work very well in real life."

    There is probably much truth in these observations, and they are in any case difficult to confute. If Mr. John Rhode, for example, could be induced to commit a real murder by one of the ingeniously simple methods he so easily invents in fiction, and if Mr. Freeman Wills Cfofts, say, would undertake to pursue him, Bradshaw in hand, from Stranraer to Saint Juan-les-Pins, then indeed, we might pu the matter to the test. But writers of detection fiction are, as a rule, not bloodthirsty people They avoid physical violence, for two reasons: first, because their muderous feelings are so efficiently blown-off in print as to have little energy left for boiling up in action, and secondly, because they are so accustomed to the idea that murders are made to be detected that they feel a whole-some reluctance to put their criminal theories into practice. While, as for doing real detecting, the fact is that few of them have the time for it, being engaged in earning their bread and butter like reasonable citizens, unblessed with the ample leisure of a Wimsey or a Father Brown.

    But the next best thing to a genuine contest is a good game, and The Floating Admiral is the detection game as played out on paper by certain members of the Detection Club among themselves. And here it may be asked: What is the Detection Club?

    It is a private association of writers of detective fiction in Great Britain, existing chiefly for the purpose of eating dinners together at suitable intervals and of talking illimitable shop. It owes no allegiance to any publisher, nor, though willing to turn an honest penny by offering the present venture to the public, is it primarily concerned with making money. It is not a committee of judges for recommending its own or other people's books, and indeed has no object but to amuse itself. Its membership is confined to those who have written genuine detective stories (not adventure tales or "thrillers") and election is secured by a vote of the club on recommendation by two or more members, and involved the undertaking of an oath.

    While wild horses would not drag from me any revelation of the solemn ritual of the Detection Club, a word as to the nature of the oath is, perhaps, permissible. Put briefly, it amounts to this: that the authors pledges himself to play the game with the public and with his fellow-authors. His detectives must detect by their wits, without the help of accident or coincidence; he must not invent impossible death-rays and poisons to produce solutions which no living person could expect; he must write as good English as he can. He must preserve inviolable secrecy concerning his fellow-members; forthcoming plots and titles, and he must give any assistance in his power to members who need advice on technical points. If there is any serious aim behind the avowedly frivolous organisation of the Detective Club, it is to keep the detective story up to the highest standard that its nature permits, and to free it from the bad legacy of sensationalism, clap-trap and jargon with which it was unhappily burdened in the past.

    Now, a word about the conditions under which The Floating Admiral was written. Here, the problem was made to approach as closely as possible to a problem of real detection. Except in the case of Mr. Chesterton's picturesque Prologue, which was written last, each contributor tackled the mystery presented to him in the preceding chapters without having the slightest idea what solution or solutions the previous authors had in mind. Two rules only were imposed. Each writer must construct his instalment with a definite solution in view- that is, he must not introduce new complications merely "to make it more difficult." He must be ready, if called upon, to explain his own clues coherently and plausibly; and to make sure that he was playing fair in this respect, each writer was bound to deliver, together with the manuscript of his own chapter, his own proposed solution of the mystery. These soluitons are printed at the end of the book for the benefit of the curious reader.

    Secondly, each writer was bound to deal faithfully with all the difficulties left for his consideration by his predecessors. If Elma's attitude toward love and marriage appeared to fluctuate strangely, or if the boat was put into the boat-house wrong end first, those facts must form part of his solution. He must not dismiss them as caprice or accident, or present an explanation inconsistent with them. Naturally, as the clues became in process of time more numerous, the suggested solutions few more complicated and precise, while the general outlines of the plot gradually hardened and fixed themselves. But it is entertaining and instructive to not the surprising number of different interpretations which may be devised to account for the simplest actions. Where one writer may have laid down a clue, thinking that it could point only in one obvious direction, succeeding writers have managed to make it point in a direction exactly opposite. And it is here, perhaps, that the game approximates most closely to real life. We judge one another by our outward actions, but in the motive underlying these actions our judgement may be widely at fault. Preoccupied by our own private interpretation of the matter, we can see only the one possible motive behind the action, so that our solution may be quite plausible, quite coherent, and quite wrong. And here, possibly, we detective-writers may have succeeded in wholesomely surprising and confounding ourselves and one another. We are only too much accustomed to let the great detective say airily: "Cannot you see, my dear Watson, that these facts admit of only one interpretation?" After our experience inthe matter of The Floating Admiral, our great detectives may have to learn to express themselves more guardedly.

    Whether the game thus played for our own amusement will succeed in amusing other people also is for the reader to judge. We can only assure him that the game was played honestly according to the rules, and with all the energy and enthusiasm which the players knew how to put into it. Speaking for myself, I may say that the helpless bewilderment into which I was plunged on receipt of Mr. Milward Kennedy's little bunch of brain-teasers was, apparently, fully equalled by the hideas sensation of baffflement which overcame Father Ronald Know when, having, as I fondly imagined, cleared up much that was obscure, I handed the problem on to him. That Mr. Anthony Berkeley should so cheerfully have confounded our politics and frustrated our knavish tricks in the final solution, I must attribute partly to his native ingenuity and partly to the energetic interference of the other three intervening solvers, who discovered so many facts and motives that we earlier gropers in the dark knew nothing about. But none of us, I think, will bear any malice against our fellow-authors, any more than against the vagaries of the River Whyn, which powerfully guided by Mr. Henry Wade and Mr. John Rhoade, twin luminaries of its tidal waters, bore so peacefully between its flowery banks the body of the Floating Admiral.

    The Anatomy of Murder - 1936: Seven members of the Detection Club here ofter commentaries upon an equal number of murders, some famous, others unknown to the general public. In each case the writer has not been content simply to retell the story of the crime, but has endeavoured to throw light upon it; either by revelation of new facts, or by application of psychological tests to the mind of the criminal, or by comparison of the resources of present-day investivation with those of the past. Sir Thomas Browne provides the writers with a common viewpoint, and the book with its motto:
    Tis not only the mischief of diseases, and the villany of poysons, that make an end of us; we vainly accuse the fury of Gunnes, and the new invention of death; it is in the power of every hand to destroy us, and we are beholding unto every one we meet, he doth not kill us.
    31 Gerrard Street, London, August, 1936.

    Detection Medley - 1939: In Presenting Detection Medley, which is a compilation by members of the Detection Club, it may be fitting to explain the formation of the Club, and to touch very lightly upon its history. The founder of the Club was Mr. Anthony Berkeley, who unfortunately has been unable to contribute to the present volume. In the year 1928 he approached several writers of detective fiction, with the suggestion that they should dine together at stated intervals for the purpose of discussing matters connected with their craft. The idea found immediate favour, and a series of dinners was held. The success of these meetings was such that the group of some twenty persons who had been invited to attend them decided to organize themselves into a permanent Club. It was resolved from the first that the future membership of the Club should be by election. It is open to any member to propose a writer of detective fiction for election to the Club. The Committee of the Club consider the proposal and, if it is approved by them, the name of the proposed candidate is circulated to all members. If no objection is received, the candidate is considered duly elected. He or she is submitted to an initiation ceremony, at which certain vows of professional rectitude are taken. But that is another story.

    Two other early resolutions were, that members' subscriptions to the Club should be purely nominal, and that for their convenience Club premises should be secured. At first sight these two resolutions might appear contradictory. But the solution of the problem was soon found. Members should establish a Club fund by contributing, not cash, but the products of their industry.

    The first attempt in this direction was the publication in 1931 of The Floating Admiral (Hodder and Stoughton), to which fourteen members contributed. Subsequent publications were Ask a Policeman (Arthur Barker), and The Anatomy of Murder (John Lane). The publication of these books, in Great Britain and America, has allowed the Club to establish and maintain premises at 31 Gerrard Street, free of any cost to individual members.

    The first President of the Club was Mr. G.K. Chesterton, and in his article reprinted in the present volume it will be seen that he alludes to his Presidency. By his death the Club lost one of its most active and enthusiastic supporters. In his place Mr. E.C. Bentley, whose Trent's Last Case will forever be a classic, was elected. Every member of the Club owes Mr. Bentley a deep debt of gratitude for the genial efficiency with which he performs his sometimes exacting duties.

    It should be emphasized, perhaps, that the Detection Club is in no sense a trade union. The principal reason for its existence is that members should meet at intervals for the enjoyment of one another's company. In addition to this, the Club offers to its members certain educational facilities. It possesses an extensive 'detection' library, and at intervals speakers, usually experts in some branch of criminology, are invited to address meetings of the Club. Further, any member who may happen to possess specialized knowledge is always ready to advise any of his fellow-members.

    The present volume continues the series, which has already been mentioned, of Detection Club publications. It consists of material contributed by members, some of which has already appeared serially or in individual collections of short stories, but not in any other anthology but this. This material, it will be observed, appears in the alphabetical order of the author's name.

    As the member appointed by the Committee of the Club to edit this book, I am under so many obligations that to acknowledge all of them adequately would be beyond my power. In the first place, my sincere thanks are due to individual contributors, all of whom responded so readily to my appeal, and have since done their utmost to lighten my labours in every possible way. In every case they have generously allowed me the free use of material in their possession, although in some instances this was to their own personal disadvantage. Next, I have to acknowledge the courteous readiness with which the various publishers, agents, and others concerned have allowed me the privilege of reprinting material which has already appeared elsewhere...

    John Rhode

    Double Death - 1985 Edition The responsibility for this boo, which gives an authentic glimpse into the unguarded minds of six different authors, rests upon James W. Drawbell, Editor of the Sunday Chronicle and William Lees, Feature Editor of the Allied Newspapers. It was Drawbell who conceived the idea of publishing a murder story to be written by six different authors, each author to contribute a separate chapter, and Lees who got it done. As each author completed a chapter the growing manuscript was handed on to the next man or woman, with the blessings of Lees and Drawbell and the notes supplied by the various authors for their guidance of their successors. At the end of it all I was appointed to tbe the "All-Seeing Eye of God", so wistfully hoped for by Miss F. Tennyson Jesse in the notes to her chapter. It was my job to staighton things out, and a good deal of straightening out was necessary, for each new brain as it approached the task had set off in a different direction from that followed by its predecessors. One or two of the authors would not permit their manuscripts to be altered (although none objected to cutting), and that did not make things any happier fo the "All-Seeing Eye", particularly as some of the authors were ignorant of, or indifferent to, the parculier needs of newspapers. Eventually the "All-Seeing Yee" hit on the plan of writing a prologue to the story. This allowed the tail of the cat to protrude from the bag, but it linked up Dorothy L. Sayers' beginnings with David Hume's solution, and therefore it has been allowed to stand. The authors' notes are published here exactly as they were written, except that deletions have been made of arguments or suggestions dealing with parts of the story which the "All Seeing Eye" deemed it necessary to remove. When the authors wrote their notes they did not know that their trust might be violated and the workings of their minds shown naked to the world, as is here being done. The responsibility for that rests with David Hume, who suggested it, and Victor Gollancz, who approved the suggestion.

    John Chancellor

    Notes - The Detection Club is not mentioned here, although the text does mention it is in series with The Scoop and Behind the Screen and Crime on the Coast and No Flowers by Request.

    Verdict of 13 - A Detection Club Anthology - 1978 The Detection Club was founded in 1932 [Incorrect - See his correction in the 1984 Edition of The Scoop and Behind the Screen], with a Constitution and Rules adopted on 11 March of that year. It was, this document said, "instituted for the association of writers of detective-novels and for promoting and continuing a mutual interest and fellowship between them." Twenty-six members formed the original club, with Helen Simpson and Hugh Walpole as associate members how were perhaps thought to have written estimable books that were still not quite detective stories. The rules said firmly that members' work must be within the canon of the detective story, "it being understood that the term 'detective-novel' does not include adventure-stories or 'thrillers' or stories in which the detection is not a main interest."

    Among the twenty-six who fulfilled these requirements were the best-known British writers of the day in the detective form: Agatha Christie and Baroness Orczy and Dorothy L. Sayers, E.C. Bentley, Anthony Berkeley, the collaborative Coles (G. D. H. and Margaret), Freeman Wills Crofts and R. Austin Freeman, Ronald Knox, A. E. W. Mason, Arthur Morrison and John Rhode. It is an impressive roll call that was mde by the first president, G. K. Chesterton. And the years befor the war added names equally illustrious: Gladys Mitchell, Margery Allingham, John Dickson Carr and Nicholas Blake among others. Carr was, I think, the only member ever elected who was not British [corrected in the 1984 edition of The Scoop and Behind the Screen]. He had been living in England for some years, and for a while acted as secretary of the club.

    The idea that rules could and should be laid down for the writing of detective stories was seriously regarded. An attempt had already been made by Ronald Knox to formulate the rules in his "Detective Decalogue," which specified that the criminal must be mentioned early on, that no undiscovered poisons might be used, "nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end," that the detective must not commit the crime (although "a criminal may legitimately dress up as a detective and delude the other actors in the story with forged references"), that he must play fair with the reader by revealing his clues, and so on. There was an election ceremony for the club, said to have been devised by Chesterton and Dorothy L. Sayers, although Anthony Berkeley also may have had a hand in it, in which the about-to-be elected member had to promise, with his hand placed upon Eric the Skull, that his detectives should well and truly detect, and that they would place no reliance on "Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition, Mumbo-Jumbo, Jiggery-Pokery, Coincidence or the Act of God." He was asked to promise also that he would not "purloin nor disclose any plot or secret communication... before publicaiton by any Member, whether under the influence of drink or otherwise." The ceremony took place after a dinner at the Cafe Royal, but other, less formal functions were held during the year. In the period before the war, the club had rooms in central London where members could meet each other, or at other times sit and think about murder. After the war there was a room in Kingly Street, rented through Dorothy L. Sayers's influence with Church authorities, and meetings were held in this room. Christianna Brand, who had been elected immediately after the war, brought various delicacies in the way of food. There were no meetings in the war period, or at any rate no new members were elected. For a whie after the war, however, the club flourished.

    For a while. But he years of peace saw a dramatic decline in the detective story as the founders had conceived it, and this decline was mirrored in the club's fortunes. It has always depended on the intense enthusiasm of a few members, and now as these members died, or ceased writing, or lost interest, the numbers coming to meetings fell away. The Kingly Street room was given up, and although there was still a good attendance at the yearly election dinner, on other occasions there might be no more than half a dozen people present. This was true especially after the death of Sayers in 1957. She had been president for nine years, succeeding E. C. Bentley, who had occupied the position after Chesterton's death. Sayers was succeeded in turn by Agatha Christie, and because of Mrs. Christie's extreme shyness and her reluctance to make even the shortest speech, Lord Gorell was her co-president for five years, until his death in 1963. Thereafter Richard Hull, and later Michael Underwood, undertook most of the president's duties, although Agatha Christie played her part at dinners and in the election ceremony.

    The dismal years were ended by two decisions. The first was to acknowledge that the old rules could no longer apply, and to broaden the membership to include the best writers in all forms of crime literature, including the spy story and the thriller. The other was the inspired suggestion that all dinners, except that at which new members were inaugurated, should be held in a club. This idea was an immediate success, and for several years now meetings have been held in the pleasant ambience of the Garrick Club, although the dinner for new members still takes place at the Cafe Royal.

    The inaugural ceremony has been changed, and then changed again, to accommodate modern ideas and standards, but its form remains and so does Eric the Skull. Membership of the club is still by invitaiton, and although the names on the roll are different in kind from those early ones, they are equally distinguished. They include, apart form the contributors to this book, Eric Ambler, Josephine Bell, John Bingham, Edmund Crispin, len Deighton, Macdonald Hastings, Geoffrey Household, John le Carre, Gavin Lyall, Anthony Price, Colin Watson - and the list could comfortably be lengthened without failing in quality. There seems every sign that the Detection Club has fitted itself wonderfully well to the changed climate of crime fiction.

    The club has been responsible for two earlier publications, The Floating Admiral, which appeared in 1932, and The Anatomy of Murder, published four years later. The first of these was a story told in turn by several members of the club, and the second a collection in which famous real-life crimes, including the cases of Landru, Adelaide Bartlett and Julia Wallace, were critically reconsidered.

    The present book has a distinctive approach. The contributors were asked to write a story that should, in some way or another, concern a jury: although it was stressed that the jury need not be one sitting in a law court, nor need it number twelve. It might be a "jury" of soldiers or policemen, suburban housewives or schoolboys, lawyers or old lags. Given this freedom, with its small element of restriction, the contributors have produced work that spans the whole field of crime fiction. There is fantasy, exemplified by Peter Dickinson's quite literally way-out tale, and Christianna Brand's high spirited romp amoung murders past, and something liek the club's old orthodoxy in the stories of P. D. James and Michael Innes, both of which deal with the verdicts of actual juries. There is H. R. F. Keating's cunningly told Kiplingesque tale of India, and Michael Underwood's jury of schoolboys. The jury may be tantalizingly small in numbers, as in Michael Gilbert's subtle thriller and Ngaio Marsh's tale with its beautifully evoked New Zealand setting. In Gwen Butler's story a dog, and in Patricia Highsmith's a cat, play important parts, and Dick Francis gives us a superb small puzzle about horses and those who best on them. There is celia Fremlin's apparently harmless romance about a possibly haunted cottage, and a tale which refers back to Beatrix Potter and blends the world of childhood with the world of crime. They make up together whwat we hope readers will regard as a lucky thirteen. The whole collection shows the crime story, like the Detection Club, offering talents as various as those of Cleopatra.

    Julian Symons, President of the Detection Club

    The Scoop and Behind the Screen - 1984 Edition "The Detection Club was founded in 1932" - those were the opening words of an introduction I wrote a few years ago for a collection of stories by the club's members, Verdict of Thirteen. The present book shows that they were mistaken, for these two broadcast serials went on the air in 1930 and 1931. How did the mistake arise, what is the truth? And indeed, you may ask if you have picked up this volume casually, what is the Detection Club?

    It is a slew (surely the right collective noun) of crime writers, numbering at the club's foundation twenty-six, and at present roughly twice that number. The original members all wrote stories of pure detection, "it being understood that the term 'detective-novel' does not include adventure-stories or 'thrillers' or stories in which the detection is not a main interest." In the changed climate of today this rule has been relaxed, and the club members now include writers of racing thrillers like Dick Francis, adventure stories like Geoffrey Household, spy sotires like Len Deighton. The original members, apart from the contributors to this book, included such celebrated writers of the period as H.C. Bailey, G. D. H. Cole, J. J. Connington, R. Austin Freeman, A. E. W. Mason, A. A. Milne, Baroness Orczy, and John Rhode. It may be remarked that all these were British writers, and only two Americans have been members of the club, John Dickson Carr and Patricia Highsmith. Chauvinishm is not responsible for this British preponderance. Membership is by invitaiton, and since the club was from the beginning and has remained essentially a dining club, there seemed no point in electing members who would be very unlikely to eat our dinners. Americans living in Britain, as Carr and Highsmith did for some years, were welcomed.

    And when was the club founded? We have no papers of any kind relating to meetings before the fifties - their whereabouts, if they exist, is a mystery none of the present members has been able to solve, and all the original members are dead. We do possess a little book of Constitution and Rules dated 1932, and wrongly assumed that to have been the foundation year. When we learned our mistake, a serious attempt was made to find the true date, a magnum of champagne being offered to the first person who could give factual information fixing a date, in the form, perhaps of a menu card which said: "First dinner of the Detection Club, held on..."

    Perhaps it was too much to hope for a menu card. Certainly none appeared. A Brighton book-seller, however, won the magnum by sending details of a letter written to the Times Literary Supplement in 1930, signed by several members of the Detection Club. But was 1930 the true date? One member, Anthony Berkeley, claimed to have founded the club in 1928, and there may have been informal meetings in that year, but until some cache of priceless documents is revealed, we are prepared to settle for 1930.

    The present volume, the contents of which have never been reprinted since they appeared in the BBC's weekly periodical The Listener, was written to provide funds so that the club premises might be acquired. Other books with the same purpose, also the product of several hands, were The Floating Admiral (1931), which has recently been reprinted; Ask a Policeman (1933), soon to reappear; and of course the recent Verdict of Thirteen, already mentioned. There are other titles too, but since I have not seen most of them, I shall not take the risk of mentioning the books.

    Why have these stories stayed buried in the files of The Listener for half a century, and how were they dusted off and brought into the light? Behind the Screen was broadcast first in six installments, with each contributor reading his own piece. The competitition included was set after the fifth installment, and it was followed by a debate between Dorothy L. Sayers and Anthony Berkeley on "Plotting a Detective Story." Sayers had been responsible for organizing this serial. She was then asked to arrange another, and the more ambitious The Scoop was the result.

    Their reappearance now is owed to the zest and pertinacity of a publisher's traveller, who uses his spare time to search out relics of the criminal past in secondhand bookshops. His researches involved old magazines as well as books. He discovered the existence of these broadcasts, and told Livia Gollancz of the Victor Gollancz publishing firm about them. Livia approached the very activie Dorothly L. Sayers Historical and Literary Society - and lo, they were able to provide the full texts.

    The club's activities have varied over the years. Before World War II it had rooms in central London, where members could meet. During the war years, no new members were elected, although there may have been informal dinners. After the war it again had for a few years a room where occasional meetings were held. For several years it was in the doldrums, with meetings attended by very few members. More recently is has floursihed again, with teh decision to confine activities to three dinners a year. Two of these are held at the famous Garrick Club, and the third, at which new members are initiated, at the Cafe Royal. The Garrick dinners are always fully booked, and the initiation dinner, which has been held at the Cafe Royal for more than thirty years, includes the ceremony for which the club is famous.

    The ceremony is said to have been devised by G.K. Chesterton and Dorothy L. Sayers. It consists of a ritual spoken mostly by the president, with responses made by the initiate, who has to name something that he or she holds sacred in relation to crime fiction. The ritual has been changed over the years as the club's membership altered: it was for example, absurd to ask of Dick Francis or Geoffrey Household, who works contain little or no detection: "Do you promise that your detectives shall well and trully detect?"

    The procedure, however, remains very much as it was. After dinner the lights were turned out. The president enters, followed by other members who light his progress by candles. The cecretary bears Eric the Skull on a bed of black velvet. The president recites the ritual, in which nowadays two or three members take part; an encomium is pronounced on the candidate's works by the proposer. The candidate places a hand upon Eric the Skull, whose eyes light up, swears allegiance to the club's unwritten laws, and is elected by acclamation. The president then pronounces a blessing (although a qualified one) which did not exist in the original version of the ritual:
    You are duly elected a member of the Detection Club, and if you fail to remember your promises and break even one of our unwritten rules, may other writers anticipate your plots may total strangers sue you for libel may your pages swarm with misprints and your sales continually diminish. But should you, as no doubt you will, recall these promises and observe the rules, may reviewers rave over you and literary editors lunch you may book clubs bargain for you and women's magazines carve you up may films be made from you (and keep your plots) and American universities embalm you.

    The position of president, or as it was originally called, Ruler, is held until the president dies or resigns. No president has resigned. The club has had only a few presidents in its rather more than half a century of life and, remarkably, the black scarlet-lined cloak worn for the initiation ceremony has fitted them all. They have been G.K. Chesterton, from the year of the first dinner to 1936; E. C. Bentley from 1936 to 1949; Dorothy L. Sayers from 1949 to 1958; Agatha Christie from 1958 to 1976 (with the assistance from 1958 to 1963 of Lord Gorell, who because of Mrs. Christie's extreme shyness, undertook to propose toasts and make introductory speeches), and since 1976 - Julian Symons.

    The Man Who... - 1992 Edited by H.R.F. Keating for the Detection Club. Published in honour of Julian Symons' Eightieth Birthday

    A fiction Festschrift. Nothing else will do to celebrate eighty years of - he has anathematised the phrase - the doyen of British crime writers, Julian Symons, former President of the Detection Club, worthy follower in the weighty footsteps of G. K. CHesterton, E.C. Bentley, Dorothy L. Sayers and Dame Agatha Christie.

    It was with this in mind that I invited those among the Club's members who have been perhaps most closely linked with Julain to contribute to this volume. I laid down only a few stipulations. Each story ws, in tribute to the author of The Man Who Killed Himself, The Man Whose Drams Came True and The Man Who Lost His Wife, to have a title beginning "The Man Who..." (but indulgent as ever, I allowed a little latitude). I added that the stories under these titles should, while being altogether the author's own, refer in some way to Julian's oeuvre. A request to my fellow members treated with the circumspection proper to any edict of mine.

    But Julian's oeuvre, what an edifice it is. It begins with the sppfy The Immaterial Murder Case of 1945, actually written a good deal earlier but left in a drawer during the war years to yellow away (or it would have yellowed, had it not been typed on the green paper Julian favoured in his young poetical days), left until Kathleen Symons pulled it out, found 'parts of it quite funny' and persuaded him to send it to a publisher. From then onwards the oeuvre grows and grows, right up until this year when we are given Something Like a Love Affair. A total of twenty-seven books in all, covering much of the wide field of crime fiction as it is today. It includes the virtuoso ingenuity of The Plot Against Roger Rider as well as the psychological probing of The Players and the Game, that meditation on the infamous Moors murderers. Or we can go from the dissection of the literary and artistic world of the past half-century in Death's Darkest Face, with its brilliant time juggling, to mysteries of the Victorian days in The Blackheath Poisonings and The Detling Secret.

    Or, again, we can savour both that tribute to the master of us all, A Three-Pipe Problem (I was there in a train with Ngaio Marsh with Julian asked for a Sherlockian quote for his still-untitled book, and have ever since regretted not being quick enough to beat Dame Ngaio to the answer) and that...

    For them we in the Detection Club delight now, in our possibly off-beat way, to do him this honour.

    H.R.F. Keating, President
    Mail Dr. Sarah J. Greenwald with suggestions or changes for this web page. To read about my research in geometry, see the link from my web page.