Vincent Starrett

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Vincent Starrett
Born (1886-10-26)October 26, 1886
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Died January 5, 1974(1974-01-05) (aged 87)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Occupation newspaperman, writer
Nationality United States
Genre Detective fiction, fantasy, horror

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


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.

Film adaptations[edit]

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.[5]

See also[edit]


  • 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. ^ 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[edit]