Detection Club

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The Detection Club meeting in 1932, when G. K. Chesterton was its President

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, Hugh Walpole, John Rhode, Jessie Rickard, Baroness Emma Orczy, R. Austin Freeman, G. D. H. Cole, Margaret Cole, E. C. Bentley, Henry Wade, Constance Lindsay Taylor and H. C. Bailey. Anthony Berkeley was instrumental in setting up the club, and the first president was G. K. Chesterton. There was a fanciful initiation ritual with an oath probably written by either Chesterton or Sayers, and the club held regular dinner meetings in London.


In addition to meeting for dinners and helping each other with technical aspects in their individual writings, the members of the club agreed to adhere to Knox's Commandments in their writing to give the reader a fair chance at guessing the guilty party. These fair-play "rules" were summarised by one of the members, Ronald Knox, in an introduction to an anthology of detective stories. They were never intended as more than guidelines, and not all the members took them seriously. The first American member (though then living in the UK) was John Dickson Carr, elected in 1936.

The club continues to exist, although the fair-play rules have been considerably relaxed.

A number of works were published under the club's sponsorship; most of these were written by multiple members of the club, each contributing one or more chapters in turn. In the case of The Floating Admiral, each author also provided a sealed "solution" to the mystery as he or she had written it, including the previous chapters. This was done to prevent a writer from adding impossible complications with no reasonable solution in mind. The various partial solutions were published as part of the final book.

The oath[edit]

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 Act of God?[1]


Lord Gorell shared the presidency with Agatha Christie, who only agreed to accept the role if a co-president was appointed to conduct the club's proceedings.[4]



  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-05. Retrieved 2017-08-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Lejeune, Anthony (Sep 2004). "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn". Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/55772. Retrieved 10 June 2010.
  3. ^ "Martin Edwards named the next President of The Detection Club!". Watson, Little. 23 June 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  4. ^ Morgan, Janet (Sep 2004). "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn". Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30926. Retrieved 10 June 2010.

Further reading[edit]

  • Edwards, Martin. The Golden Age of Murder: The Mystery of the Writers Who Invented the Modern Detective Story. London: HarperCollins, 2015.

External links[edit]