Vincent Starrett

Charles Vincent Emerson Starrett (/ˈstɛərət/;[1][2] October 26, 1886 – January 5, 1974), known as Vincent Starrett, was an American writer, newspaperman, and bibliophile.

Vincent Starrett
BornOctober 26, 1886
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
DiedJanuary 5, 1974 (aged 87)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Occupationnewspaperman, writer
NationalityUnited States
GenreDetective fiction, fantasy, horror


Charles Vincent Emerson Starrett was born above his grandfather's bookshop in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His father moved the family to Chicago in 1889 where Starrett attended John Marshall High School.

Starrett landed a job as a cub reporter with the Chicago Inter-Ocean in 1905. When that paper folded two years later he began working for the Chicago Daily News as a crime reporter, a feature writer, and finally a war correspondent in Mexico from 1914 to 1915. Starrett turned to writing mystery and supernatural fiction for the pulp magazines during the 1920s and 1930s.

In 1920, he wrote a Sherlock Holmes pastiche entitled The Adventure of the Unique 'Hamlet'; Starrett on at least one occasion said that the press-run was 100 copies, but on others he said that it was 200 copies. The plan was to have half the press-run with the imprint of bookseller Walter M. Hill, and half with Starrett's imprint; the printer misunderstood the instructions and only 10 have Starrett's imprint. Randall Stock has done a census of surviving copies.[3] He located one unbound and nine bound copies with the Starrett imprint, and 41 copies (with a possible addition of 4 whose location is unknown) with the Hill imprint. Stock believes that the press run was 100 plus 10, and the number of surviving copies seems to confirm that number. This story involved the detective with a missing 1604 edition of Shakespeare's play, which included an inscription by the playwright.[4] Starrett's most famous work, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, was published in 1933. He retired from The Chicago Tribune in 1967 where he had written a book column, "Books Alive," for 25 years. Starrett was one of the founders of The Hounds of the Baskerville (sic), a Chicago chapter of The Baker Street Irregulars.

Starrett also wrote horror/fantasy stories, primarily for the pulp magazine Weird Tales (collected in The Quick and the Dead, Arkham House, 1965). His story "Penelope," published in the May 1923 issue of Weird Tales, was also featured in the anthology The Moon Terror (1927) anonymously edited by Farnsworth Wright and published by the magazine.

Starrett also wrote poetry (collected in Autolycus in Limbo, Dutton, 1943), detective novels (Murder on 'B' Deck, Doubleday, 1929, and others), and detective short stories primarily about Chicago sleuth Jimmie Lavender (The Case Book of Jimmie Lavender, Gold Label, 1944), many of which first appeared in the pulp magazine Short Stories. (The name Jimmie Lavender was that of an actual pitcher for the Chicago Cubs; Starrett wrote to ask the ball player for permission to use his name for a gentleman detective, which the pitcher granted.)

Starrett was a major enthusiast of Welsh writer Arthur Machen and was instrumental in bringing Machen's work to an American audience for the first time.

A complete edition of Starrett's works is being published by George Vanderburgh's Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, a print-on-demand publisher, with 22 of a projected 25 volumes already in print. The most recent publication in the Vincent Starrett Memorial Library is Sherlock Alive, compiled and edited by Karen Murdock. The first printing of this book was in August 2010. Sherlock Alive is a collection of the Sherlockian references from Starrett's "Books Alive" column.

His weekly column "Books Alive" ran in Chicago Tribune for 25 years and was influential. He also wrote Best Loved Books of the 20th Century, a collection of 52 essays discussing popular works published in 1955.[5]

Film adaptations

Among his film adaptions his 1934 story Recipe for Murder first published in Redbook magazine in one installment was filmed as The Great Hotel Murder by Fox in 1935.[6]

See also


  • Clute, John; John Grant (1997). The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 893. ISBN 0-312-15897-1.
  • Ruber, Peter (2000). Arkham's Masters of Horror. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House. pp. 403–410. ISBN 0-87054-177-3.
  • Ruber, Peter (1968). The Last Bookman: A Journey into the Life and Times of Vincent Starrett: Author, Journalist, Bibliophile. New York, NY: Candlelight Press.
  • "Vincent Starrett, Writer, Sherlock Holmes Expert". The Washington Post. 1974-01-13.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ The Unique Hamlet by Vincent Starrett: A First Edition Census
  4. ^ Included in The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes collection.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Peter A. Ruber The Last Bookman - 1995 Page 64 "Sun Dial Mysteries published a widely distributed hard-cover reprint of the book — though not before Vincent had sold it to Redbook under the title of Recipe for Murder, and to 20th Century-Fox for a perfectly ghastly film starring Edmund Lowe ..."


  • Buried Caesars: Essays in Literary Appreciation, Covici-McGee Company, 1923.
  • Coffins for Two, Covici-McGee Company, 1924.
  • Penny Wise and Book Foolish, Covici-Friede, 1929.
  • Murder on 'B' Deck, Doubleday, 1929.
  • The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, Macmillan, 1933. A revised edition was published by The University of Chicago Press in 1960. A paperback edition was published by Otto Penzler Books, 1993, ISBN 1-883402-05-0. (A movie called The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes had no connection to Vincent Starrett.)
  • Books Alive, Random house, 1940.
  • Bookman's Holiday: The Private Satisfactions of an Incurable Collector, Random house, 1942.
  • Autolycus in Limbo, Dutton, 1943.
  • The Case Book of Jimmie Lavender, Gold Label, 1944.
  • Murder in Peking, The Lantern Press, 1946.
  • Books and Bipeds, Argus Books, 1947.
  • Born in a Bookshop: Chapters from the Chicago Renascence, University of Oklahoma Press, 1965.
  • The Quick and the Dead, Arkham House, 1965, OCLC 1855899
  • The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Penguin Books, 1985, ISBN 0-14-007907-6

External links

Adventure Tales

Adventure Tales is an irregularly published magazine reprinting classic stories from pulp magazines of the early 20th century. It is edited by science fiction writer John Gregory Betancourt and published by Wildside Press. In 2011 it was published biannually. Each issue has a theme or a featured author related to pulp magazines. Its headquarters is in Rockville, Maryland.

Issue #1 (2006) featured prolific pulp writer Hugh B. Cave.

Contents: "Skulls," by H. Bedford Jones; "Under the Flame Trees," by H. de Vere Stacpoole; "Rats Ashore," by Charles C. Young; "The Evil Eye," by Vincent Starrett; "Watson!" by Captain A. E. Dingle; "Island Feud," by Hugh B. Cave; "The Man Who Couldn't Die," by Hugh B. Cave;

Issue #2 (2006) featured pulp writer Nelson Bond.

Includes work by Dorothy Quick, Achmed Abdullah, John D. Swain, Christopher B. Booth, Harold Lamb, Nelson Bond, and Arthur O. Friel.

Issue #3 (2006) featured pulp writer Murray Leinster.

Other contents includes: "Land Sharks and Others," by H. Bedford-Jones; "Light on a Subject," by Raymond S. Spears; "Channa's Tabu," by Harold Lamb; "Forbidden Fruit," by John D. Swain; "Kill That Headline," by Robert Leslie Bellem; "The Floating Island," by Philip M. Fisher; Africa," by George Allan England. A special book-paper edition included extra content: "Nerve" and "The Street of Magnificent Dreams," by Murray Leinster; "The Moon-Calves," by Raymond S. Spears; and "Pirates' Gold," by H. Bedford-Jones.

Issue #4 (2007) featured pulp writers associated with Weird Tales magazine.

Contents: "The Monkey God," by Seabury Quinn; "Double-Shuffle," by Edwin Baird; "Every Man a King," by E. Hoffmann Price; "Blind Man's Bluff," by Edwin Baird; "The Mad Detective," by John D. Swain; "Son of the White wolf," by Robert E. Howard; "Adventure," by Clark Ashton Smith (verse); "Astrophobos," by H.P. Lovecraft (verse); "Always Comes Evening," by Robert E. Howard (verse)

Issue #5 (2008) featured pulp writer Achmed Abdullah.

Contents: "Their Own Dear Land," by Achmed Abdullah; "The Pearls of Paruki," by J. Allan Dunn; "The Midmatch Tragedy," by Vincent Starrett; "The Remittance Woman," by Achmed Abdullah.

Issue #6 (2010) featured pulp writer H. Bedford-Jones.

Contents: "The Fugitive Statue," by Vincent Starrett; "Miracle," by John D. Swain; "Mustered Out," by H. Beford-Jones; "The Devil's Heirloom," by Anthony M. Rud; "The Tapir," by Arthur O. Friel; "Thubway Tham's Dog," by Johnston McCulley; "The Badman's Brand," by H. Bedford-Jones; "Lancelot Biggs Cooks a Pirate," by Nelson S. Bond; "Surprise in Sulphur Springs," by Bedford-Jones; "Payable to Bearer," by Talbot Mundy; plus a facsimile reprint of the first issue of AMRA, the fantasy fanzine.

Arkham's Masters of Horror

Arkham's Masters of Horror is an anthology of fantasy and horror stories edited by Peter Ruber. It was released by Arkham House in an edition of approximately 4,000 copies in 2000. The book includes an introductory essay by Ruber before each story and about its author.

Ruber drew criticism from the horror/fantasy community for the hostility with which he introduced some authors within the volume - for instance, his accusation that H.P. Lovecraft "had a schizoid personality" and could be labelled "a genuine crackpot."

The book was translated into Spanish in 2010 as Maestros del horror de Arkham House (Valdemar).[1]

Courthouse Place

Courthouse Place, also known as the Cook County Criminal Court Building, is a Richardsonian Romanesque-style building at 54 West Hubbard Street in the Near North Side of Chicago. Now an office building, it originally served as a noted courthouse. Designed by architect Otto H. Matz and completed in 1893, it replaced and reused material from the earlier 1874 criminal courthouse at this site (the location of the trial and hangings related to the Haymarket Affair). The complex included in addition to the successive courthouses the Cook County Jail and the hanging gallows for prisoners sentenced to death.

The present building housed the Cook County Criminal Courts for its first 35 years, and was the site of many legendary trials, including the Leopold and Loeb murder case, the Black Sox Scandal, and the jazz age trials that formed the basis of the play and musical Chicago. Newspaperman Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur based much of their 1928 play, The Front Page, on the daily events in this building. Other authors of the Chicago's 1920s literary renaissance that were employed in the fourth floor pressroom include Carl Sandburg, Sherwood Anderson, and Vincent Starrett. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 13, 1984 and designated a Chicago Landmark on June 9, 1993.In 1929, the Criminal Courts left the 54 West Hubbard Street location, and the building was then occupied by the Chicago Board of Health and other city agencies. After poor alterations and years of neglect, the building was acquired by a private developer, Friedman Properties, Ltd in 1985. The property was restored and refurbished as "Courthouse Place," an office development later expanded to include the restoration of other surrounding historic buildings.

Evermore (book)

Evermore is an anthology of short stories about or in honor of Edgar Allan Poe and edited by James Robert Smith and Stephen Mark Rainey. It was released in 2006 by Arkham House in an edition of approximately 2,000 copies.

Lovecraft Remembered

Lovecraft Remembered is a collection of memoirs about American writer H. P. Lovecraft, edited by Peter Cannon. It was released in 1998 by Arkham House in an edition of 3,579 copies. Nearly all the memoirs from previous Arkham publications of Lovecraft miscellany are included.

Marie Rodell

Marie Freid Rodell (January 31, 1912 – November 9, 1975) was a literary agent and author who managed the publications of much of environmentalist Rachel Carson's writings, as well as the first book by civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr..

Rodell was born in New York City, and attended Vassar College (B.A. 1932). After nine years as an editor for mystery novels, Rodell formed her own literary agency in 1948. That year she met Rachel Carson, who hired her. She worked with Carson for the remainder of Carson's life, and after Carson's death in 1964 became her literary executor; she compiled and organized the Rachel Carson Papers (which took over two years) and arranged for the posthumous publication of A Sense of Wonder. In 1957 she was Martin Luther King, Jr.'s literary agent for Stride Toward Freedom.Rodell wrote three mystery novels and was a member of Mensa.Rodell wrote Mystery Fiction: Theory and Technique; in his column of November 7, 1943, Chicago Tribune book columnist Vincent Starrett called this “one of the most entertaining textbooks ever written.” She was also the editor of the Regional Murder Series.

Peter Ruber

Peter Ruber (September 29, 1940 – March 6, 2014) was a United States author, editor and publisher. He had been an advertising executive, book publisher and, for the past two decades, a consultant and free-lance journalist for many leading business information technology magazines. He lived on Long Island, New York with his wife, three sons, three grandchildren and a mountain of books and literary papers.

As publishing executive, he came to know and publish many books by Arkham House founder August Derleth between 1962–1971, some under his Candlelight Press imprint, and researched his former colleague's life and time for nearly forty years.

Ruber became the editor for Arkham House in 1997, after Jim Turner left to found Golden Gryphon Press. Ruber drew criticism for the hostile opinions of various authors he expressed in his story introductions within his anthology Arkham's Masters of Horror (2000). Rumours of his ill-health circulated for some time; he suffered a stroke in 2004 and his editorial duties at Arkham House lapsed due to this.

Ruber authored The Last Bookman: A Journey into the Life and Times of Vincent Starrett: Journalist, Bookman, Bibliophile (NY: Candlelight Press, 1968; reprint Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 1995) and editor of over 25 books. He did much research for a biography on August Derleth (as yet unpublished) and Seabury Quinn. He also began editing for Battered Silicon Dispatch Box all of Vincent Starrett's works, with 22 of a projected 25 volumes already in print.

In 2000 Ruber edited a collection of previously unpublished stories by H. Russell Wakefield for Ash-Tree Press. For the same publisher in 2003 he edited Night Creatures by Seabury Quinn.

Ruber suffered a stroke in 2004 and his editorial duties at Arkham House lapsed due to this.

Ruber died on March 6, 2014.

Recipe for Murder

Recipe for Murder may refer to:

Recipe for Murder, a 1932 Arnold Ridley play, filmed as Blind Justice (1934 film) and in review notable for first use of the word whodunit

Recipe for Murder, a 1934 Vincent Starrett short story used as plot of film The Great Hotel Murder, 1935

Recipe for Murder, a 2002 American TV film starring Gary Basaraba, Larissa Laskin and Richard Chevolleau

Recipe for Murder, a 2003 episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (season 3)

Recipe for Murder (film), a 2011 Australian TV docudrama film

Solar Pons

Solar Pons is a fictional detective created by August Derleth as a pastiche of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.


Starrett is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Brooke Starrett, Australian football (soccer) player

Charles Starrett (1903–1986), American actor

Helen Ekin Starrett (1840-1920), American educator, author, suffragette

Jack Starrett (1936–1989), American actor and film director

Keith Starrett (born 1951), United States federal judge

Laroy S. Starrett (1836–1922), businessman and inventor

Mary Starrett (born 1954), the National Political Communications Director of the Constitution Party

Paul Starrett (1866–1957), American builder

Vincent Starrett (1886–1974), American writer and newspaperman

William A. Starrett (1877-1932), America builder of skyscrapers, built the Empire State Building

The Arkham Sampler

The Arkham Sampler was an American fantasy and horror fiction magazine first published in Winter 1948. The headquarters was in Sauk City, Wisconsin. The magazine, edited by August Derleth, was the first of two magazines published by Arkham House. It was published on a quarterly basis. The cover design was prepared by Ronald Clyne and was printed in alternating colors for the eight quarterly issues. Each issue had a print run of 1,200 copies with the exception of the Winter 1949 "All Science-Fiction Issue", of which 2,000 copies were printed. The Autumn 1949 issue was the last edition of the magazine.The Arkham Sampler published fiction, poetry, reviews, letters, articles and bibliographic data. The magazine published the first appearances of work by H. P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, Robert E. Howard, Theodore Sturgeon, A. E. van Vogt, Robert Bloch and others. Other writers featured in the magazine include Anthony Boucher, Everett F. Bleiler, Martin Gardner, Carl Jacobi, David H. Keller, Fritz Leiber, Frank Belknap Long, E. Hoffmann Price, Vincent Starrett, Jules Verne and H. Russell Wakefield.

The Baker Street Irregulars

The Baker Street Irregulars is an organization of Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts founded in 1934 by Christopher Morley. The nonprofit organization numbers some 300 individuals worldwide. The group has published The Baker Street Journal — an "irregular quarterly of Sherlockiana" — since 1946.

The Casebook of Solar Pons

The Casebook of Solar Pons is a collection of detective fiction short stories by American writer August Derleth. It was released in 1965 by Mycroft & Moran in an edition of 3,020 copies. It was the sixth collection of Derleth's Solar Pons stories which are pastiches of the Sherlock Holmes tales of Arthur Conan Doyle.

The story "The Adventure of the Haunted Library" features a tribute to the William Hope Hodgson character Carnacki the Ghost-Finder, who is said to have initially investigated the case before passing it on to Solar Pons. Derleth published the first American (and first expanded) edition of Carnacki, the Ghost-Finder under his Arkham House imprint.

The Great Hotel Murder

The Great Hotel Murder was a 1935 20th Century Fox film directed by Eugene Forde, based on Recipe for Murder a 1934 story by Vincent Starrett.

The film starred Edmund Lowe and Victor McLaglen as rival sleuths, with supporting roles for Lynn Bari, Ernest Palmer (actor) and Madge Bellamy.

The Original Text Solar Pons Omnibus Edition

The Original Text Solar Pons Omnibus Edition is a collection of detective fiction stories by author August Derleth. It was released in 2000 by Mycroft & Moran and was published in two volumes. The set collects all of the Solar Pons stories of August Derleth. The stories are pastiches of the Sherlock Holmes tales of Arthur Conan Doyle. The collection restores the text to its original state removing the edits done by Basil Copper for The Solar Pons Omnibus (1982). The stories are also ordered by their date of publication rather than by their internal chronology as was done for the earlier omnibus edition.

The Quick and the Dead (collection)

The Quick and the Dead is a collection of stories by author Vincent Starrett. It was released in 1965 and was the author's only collection of stories published by Arkham House. It was released in an edition of 2,047 copies. The stories were originally published between 1920 and 1932 in various pulp magazines.

The Spawn of Cthulhu

The Spawn of Cthulhu is an anthology of fantasy short stories, edited by American writer Lin Carter. It was first published in paperback by Ballantine Books in October 1971 as the thirty-sixth volume of its Ballantine Adult Fantasy series. It was the fifth anthology assembled by Carter for the series.The book collects twelve fantasy tales and poems by various authors that either influenced or were influenced by the Cthulhu Mythos stories of H. P. Lovecraft, including one story by Lovecraft himself, with an overall introduction and notes by Carter.

While Rome Burns

While Rome Burns is a book collecting some of the 20th century American critic Alexander Woollcott's writings for the New Yorker. The title is a reference to the popular legend that Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned. The book was published by Grosset & Dunlap in 1934. Vincent Starrett hailed it as one of the 52 "Best Loved Books of the Twentieth Century". Woollcott promoted the book on his radio show and his pointed critiques, quips, and asides gained enough of an audience to make it a bestseller. The New York Times reviewed it. The book includes accounts of his travels to Japan and Russia.A sequel, Long, Long Ago was published after Woollcott's death.

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