Vincent Starrett Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

To mystery enthusiasts, Vincent Starrett’s main claim to fame is not his own detective fiction. Starrett is known as the “biographer” of Sherlock Holmes. He was a founding member of the Baker Street Irregulars (named for the occasional helpers of Holmes), a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of England, and the author of the highly acclaimed The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1933). In this volume, the author examines at leisure, and with a healthy dose of tongue in cheek, various aspects of the life and times of the great (and, so it seems, in the end only barely fictional) English detective and his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Starrett’s own contributions to the mystery genre are thin and fall squarely into the category of Doyle imitations. He even went so far as to publish a novella featuring the Holmes-Watson team, The Unique Hamlet: A Hitherto Unchronicled Adventure of Mr. Sherlock Holmes (1920). Starrett’s own greatest gift as a mystery writer was a talent for decent plots.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Honce, Charles. A Vincent Starrett Library: The Astonishing Results of Twenty-three Years of Literary Activity. Mount Vernon, N.Y.: Golden Eagle Press, 1941. This bibliography of Starrett’s work is accompanied by a complementary essay by Starrett himself.

Murphy, Michael, ed. Starrett vs. Mahen: A Record of Discovery and Correspondence. St. Louis, Mo.: Autolycus Press, 1977. Collected letters between Starrett and fellow author Arthur Machen, revealing the personal approach of each man to the craft of writing.

Nieminski, John, and Jon L. Lellenberg, eds. “Dear Starrett—”, “Dear Briggs—”: A Compendium of Correspondence Between Vincent Starrett and Gray Chandler Briggs, 1930-1934, Together with Various Appendices, Notes, and Embellishments. New York: Fordham University Press, 1989. Collects letters between the two men, especially those focused on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories and the Baker Street Irregulars.

Ruber, Peter. The Last Bookman: A Journey into the Life and Times of Vincent Starrett, Author, Journalist, Bibliophile. New York: Candlelight Press, 1968. Biography of the author, combined with tributes in various forms—both prose and poetic—by several of Starrett’s friends and colleagues.

Ruber, Peter, ed. Arkham’s Masters of Horror: A Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology Retrospective of the First Thirty Years of Arkham House. Sauk City, Wis.: Arkham House, 2000. Includes a horror tale by Starrett, as well as notes by Ruber on the historical importance of the tale.

Starrett, Vincent. Born in a Bookshop: Chapters from the Chicago Renascence. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1965. Autobiographical look at the author’s experience of his hometown; provides insight into the influence of Chicago on his life and writing.