The Detection Club 101
What is The Detection Club?
This mysterious and long established club has been home to some of the most prestigious crime writers ever to pick up a pen. But what do we know about this august and venerable society?
“The Detection Club was formed in 1930 by a group of British mystery writers, including Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ronald Knox, Freeman Wills Crofts, Arthur Morrison, John Rhode, Jessie Rickard, Baroness Emma Orczy, R. Austin Freeman, G.D.H. Cole, Margaret Cole, E.C. Bentley, Henry Wade, and H.C. Bailey.”
So only one or two classic crime authors then…
Each member of this mysterious club has to swear an oath on entry in an early attempt to instil a rule of fair play, giving the readers of their novels a fair chance at solving the mystery presented to them in their books. Each applicant has to take part in the following ceremony:
The Ruler shall say to the Candidate: Is it your firm desire to become a Member of the Detection Club?
The Candidate shall answer in a loud voice: That is my desire.
Do you promise that your detectives shall well and truly detect the crimes presented to them, using those wits which it may please you to bestow upon them and not placing reliance on, nor making use of Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition, Mumbo-Jumbo, Jiggery-Pokery, Coincidence or the Act of God?
Do you solemnly swear never to conceal a vital clue from the reader?
Do you promise to observe a seemly moderation in the use of Gangs, Conspiracies, Death-Rays, Ghosts, Hypnotism, Trap-Doors, Chinamen, Super-Criminals and Lunatics; and utterly and forever to forswear Mysterious Poisons unknown to Science?
Will you honour the King’s English?
Is there anything you hold sacred?
Then the Candidate, having named a Thing which he holds of peculiar sanctity, the Ruler shall ask: Do you swear by (Here the Ruler shall name the Thing) to observe faithfully all these promises which you have made so long as you are a Member of the Club?
(But if the Candidate is not able to name a Thing which he holds sacred, then the Ruler shall propose the Oath in this manner following: Do you as you hope to increase your Sales, swear to observe faithfully all these promises which you have made, so long as you are a Member of the Club?)
Then the Candidate shall solemnly swear: All this I solemnly do swear. And I do furthermore promise and undertake to be loyal to the Club, neither purloining nor disclosing any plot or secret communicated to me before publication by any Member, whether under the influence of drink or otherwise.
If there is any Member present who objects to the Proposal let him or her so declare. If there be no objector, then shall the Ruler say to the Members: Do you then acclaim A N Other as a Member of our Club?
Then the Company’s Crier, or the Member appointed thereto by the Secretary, shall lead the Company in such cries of approval as are within his compass or capacity. When the cries cease, whether from lack of breath or any other cause, the Ruler shall make this declaration:
A N Other, you are duly elected a Member of the Detection Club, and if you fail to keep your promises may other writers anticipate your plots, may your publishers do you down in your contracts, may total strangers sue you for libel, may your pages swarm with misprints and may your sales continually diminish. Amen.”
The Detection Club is still going strong today – we heard on the grapevine they recently had one of their top-secret dinners – and the current chair is this year’s Diamond Dagger Winner Simon Brett.
We’re going to be taking a look at the original members of The Detection Club, their books and their stories every week, kicking off with Ronald Knox.