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The Diogenes Club is a fictional gentleman's club created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and featured in several Sherlock Holmes stories, most notably "The Greek Interpreter". It seems to have been named after Diogenes the Cynic (although this is never explained in the original stories) and was co-founded by Sherlock's indolent older brother, Mycroft Holmes.
The club is described by Sherlock Holmes in the stories thus:
"There are many men in London, you know, who, some from shyness, some from misanthropy, have no wish for the company of their fellows. Yet they are not averse to comfortable chairs and the latest periodicals. It is for the convenience of these that the Diogenes Club was started, and it now contains the most unsociable and unclubable men in town. No member is permitted to take the least notice of any other one. Save in the Stranger's Room, no talking is, under any circumstances, allowed, and three offences, if brought to the notice of the committee, render the talker liable to expulsion. My brother was one of the founders, and I have myself found it a very soothing atmosphere."
It is described as a place where men can go to read without any distractions, and as such the number one rule is that there is no talking, to the point where club members can be excluded for coughing.
Relation to British Secret Service
Although there is no hint in the original Sherlock Holmes canon that the Diogenes Club is anything but what it seems to be, several later writers have developed and made use of the idea that the club was founded as a front for the British secret service. Although the club itself is not referred to in such a way in the original stories, this common supposition may have its root in the fact that Mycroft Holmes, in "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans", is revealed to be the supreme and indispensable brain-trust behind the British government, who pieces together the collective government secrets and then advises the best course of action. Given that Mycroft Holmes is established both as a co-founder of the club, and an indolent man who almost exclusively travels only between his home, his office, and the Club, this extrapolation would appear to be a reasonable one.
This idea was largely popularised by The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), a 1970s motion picture directed by Billy Wilder, and has been frequently used in pastiches of Conan Doyle's original stories.
In other media
The Diogenes Club has appeared, in various forms, in a great many other settings, most of which take as given the Club's connection to the British Secret Service:
- British horror writer Kim Newman has featured versions of the Diogenes Club in both his Anno Dracula and Diogenes Club series. In both settings it is an organisation dedicated to investigating the paranormal, and many of the same characters appear across the two, most notably Charles Beauregard and Geneviève Dieudonné.
- The Diogenes Club was featured in the Doctor Who Virgin New Adventures novel All-Consuming Fire, a Doctor Who/Sherlock Holmes crossover novel, which also refers to Newman's character Beauregard. An upcoming follow-up to this, in Big Finish's Bernice Summerfield series of audio adventures, is The Adventure of the Diogenes Damsel.
- Also in 2011, the club was mentioned in Guy Ritchie's movie Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, when Watson made a deduction about Mycroft prior to the stag party. It was named again when Sherlock Holmes reveals where he ordered Watson to send the telegram under Moriarty's torture.
- The club also appears in Nicholas Meyer's novel The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier graphic novel, the computer game Sherlock Holmes - Case of the Rose Tattoo, the Dark Horse Comics Predator: Nemesis comic, and in the short story "Closing Time" from Neil Gaiman's collection of short fiction Fragile Things. It is also featured in the Japanese manga Embalming -The Another Tale of Frankenstein-, where one of the club's founder's uses the alias "Mike Roft", a play on Mycroft, and remarks that "if you are looking for someone, my younger brother is quite good at that type of thing".
- In Philip José Farmer's Wold Newton Universe, specifically The Other Log of Phileas Fogg, it is stated that the real Diogenes Club was the Athenaeum Club, but that Arthur Conan Doyle changed the name for his stories.
- In the BBC TV series Sherlock episode "The Reichenbach Fall", the Diogenes Club is shown; Watson goes there, desperate to see Mycroft Holmes, gets into trouble for talking, and is briskly and not too gently escorted to the Stranger's Room by two muffle-shoed bouncers who hold a cloth pad to his mouth to prevent further noise.
- In the CBS TV series Elementary, Mycroft is a restaurateur who owns a gourmet international restaurant chain called Diogenes.