Augustus S. F. X. Van Dusen

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Augustus S. F. X. Van Dusen
First appearance The Problem of Cell 13
Created by Jacques Futrelle
Portrayed by Douglas Wilmer
Paul Rhys
Gender Male
Occupation Scientist, Amateur Detective
Nationality American

Professor Augustus S. F. X. Van Dusen, Ph.D., LL.D., F.R.S., M.D., M.D.S. is a fictional character in a series of detective short stories and two novels by Jacques Futrelle. Some of the short stories were originally published in The Saturday Evening Post and the Boston American.


In the stories, Professor Van Dusen solves a variety of different mysteries with his friend and companion, Hutchinson Hatch, reporter of a fictional newspaper called The Daily New Yorker. The professor is known as "The Thinking Machine", solving problems by the remorseless application of logic. This nickname was given to him after his winning of a match against the fictional chess champion of the day, Tschaikowsky, in a demonstration to show the power of applying pure logic. He was able to win against the reigning champion having only been taught the game the morning of the match. Many of his titles are actually honorary degrees awarded to him serving only to amuse the universities and scientific institutions that crown him with those titles. His catchphrases include, "Two and two always equal four," "Nothing is impossible," and "All things that start must go somewhere."

Futrelle died at age 37 on April 15, 1912, on the RMS Titanic. He refused to board a lifeboat, insisting that his wife board instead.


  1. The Chase of the Golden Plate (1906)

Short stories[edit]

  1. The Problem of Dressing Room A
  2. The Problem of The Auto Cab
  3. The Problem of The Broken Bracelet
  4. The Brown Coat
  5. The Case of the Life Raft
  6. The Case of the Mysterious Weapon
  7. The Case of the Scientific Murderer
  8. Convict #97
  9. The Problem of The Cross Mark
  10. The Crystal Gazer
  11. The Disappearance of Baby Blake
  12. The Deserted House
  13. The Fatal Cipher
  14. The Flaming Phantom (Hatch is sent to investigate a "haunted house" where a flaming ghost chases off any intruders, but he is forced to summon Van Dusen)
  15. The Ghost Woman
  16. The Golden Dagger
  17. The Great Auto Mystery
  18. The Green Eyed Monster
  19. The Haunted Bell
  20. The House That Was (Written as companion piece to May Futrelle's "The Grinning God")
  21. The Problem of The Hidden Million
  22. The Interrupted Wireless
  23. The Jackdaw Girl
  24. The Knotted Cord
  25. The Leak
  26. The Lost Radium (Takes place in a laboratory at the fictional "Yarvard University", a pastiche of Yale and Harvard)
  27. The Man Who Was Lost
  28. The Missing Necklace
  29. The Motor Boat
  30. The Mystery of a Studio
  31. The Mystery of Room 666
  32. The Opera Box
  33. The Organ Grinder
  34. A Perfect Alibi
  35. The Phantom Motor
  36. A Piece of String
  37. Prince Otto
  38. The Private Compartment
  39. The Problem of Cell 13 (Van Dusen accepts a challenge to escape from a death row cell within a week, and Hatch publicizes it in the newspaper)
  40. The Ralston Bank Burglary
  41. The Red Rose
  42. The Roswell Tiara
  43. The Scarlet Thread
  44. The Silver Box (A businessman asks Van Dusen's help when his industrial secrets are instantly leaked to a competitor from a closed office)
  45. The Problem of The Souvenir Cards
  46. The Problem of The Stolen Rubens
  47. The Superfluous Finger (A doctor comes to Van Dusen with an ethical quandary: a woman wants a perfectly good little finger amputated, but won't say why)
  48. The Thinking Machine Investigates
  49. The Three Overcoats
  50. The Problem of The Vanishing Man
  51. The Yellow Diamond Pendant

In other media[edit]


The professor appeared in two episodes of the 1970s Thames Television series The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes. Douglas Wilmer portrayed Van Dusen in "Cell 13" and "The Superfluous Finger."


Between 1978 and 1999 the German radio station RIAS produced and broadcast 79 Augustus Van Dusen-based radio plays. A few of them were based on original stories by Futrelle, but most of the scripts were new creations by German author Michael Koser. The role of Hutchinson Hatch is a lot more prominent in the radio plays than it was in the original; Hatch was made into the fictional narrator in the radio version.

In 2011, the BBC Radio 4 series The Rivals featured Paul Rhys as Professor Van Dusen in Chris Harrald's adaptation of "The Problem of Cell 13", which was directed by Sasha Yevtushenko. He returned for the first episode of the second series in 2013, in Chris Harrald's adaptation of "The Problem of the Superfluous Finger", produced by Liz Webb. In the fourth episode of the fourth series in 2016, "The Mystery of the Scarlet Thread", Van Dusen was played by Tony Gardner.


In 2013, the character appeared in Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's graphic novel Nemo: Heart of Ice; the character aids explorer Janni Nemo when she encounters H. P. Lovecraft's Elder Gods in Antarctica

External links[edit]