Wednesday, 5 November 2008

In the Club




For me, Tuesday, 28 October, was a deeply memorable occasion. It was the day when I was formally confirmed as a member of the Detection Club. And because I’m a lover of the traditions of the genre, it meant a good deal to me that I’d been elected to join the oldest association of crime writers in the world.

There’s a pleasing, and highly appropriate, air of mystery about the Detection Club, which I gather has about 60 members in all. Even the precise date of its formation is uncertain – some say around 1928, others put it a year or two later. The first president was G.K.Chesterton, and he was succeeded by Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie. More recently, presidents have included Julian Symons and Harry Keating; the current incumbent is Simon Brett.

Essentially the Detection Club is a social gathering, with three dinners in London each year. Last week’s dinner was held in the august setting of Middle Temple Hall, shown in the photos (but the exterior shots don't do justice to the grandeur of the interior.) My wife Helena and I had the delightful experience of sitting on the top table with the likes of P.D. James, Jessica Mann, Simon Brett and his wife Lucy, the eminent journalist Katharine Whitehorn (whose late husband Gavin Lyall was a member), and the guest speaker, Lynne Truss, famed for her best-seller about punctuation, Eats, Shoots and Leaves. With us was my Murder Squad colleague, Ann Cleeves, who by a happy coincidence is the other person who has just been elected to membership.

Peter Lovesey gave me a very generous introduction in the joining ceremony, and Robert Barnard did the honours for Ann. After it was all over, Lynne Truss, Frances Fyfield, Helena and I wandered through the streets of London in a torrential downpour, searching in vain for a taxi. Earlier the same evening, it had been snowing in London for the first time in October for seventy years. But for me, the reason why it was an unforgettable night was nothing to do with the weather, and everything to do with the Detection Club.

19 comments:

Kerrie said...

Well done Martin

Roger Cornwell said...

Congratulations on your election. And I'm glad Ann made it too: the last I head she was marooned on a Shetland island with the weather closing in.

Roger

Xavier said...

Congratulations!

Jean Rogers said...

Congratulations, Martin!

Xavier said...

While I'm at it, there is something about the Detection Club I always wanted to ask but found no one to ask about. Does the Club work like the French Academy, with a numerus clausus and new members replacing those who died or left?

Alis said...

Many congratulations, Martin!

maxine said...

What a lovely post, and congratulations to you (and Ann of course). Given your interest in, and love of, historical aspects of the genre, your membership is particularly appropriate. And, of course, well-deserved in your own right.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Lovely, Martin. A great year for you.

Mike Tooney said...

Martin:

Congratulations! A singular, well-placed honor.

But one question: Is there a secret handshake?

Best regards,
Mike Tooney

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks so much for all these kind comments. I will soon be posting more about the Detection Club, and its fascinating history.

Nan said...

Congratulations from a new fan! What a thrill to be part of such history and tradition. My God - Sayers, Christie, Chesterton! This is what is best about England, in my opinion. Again many congratulations. And SNOW!!

Ali Karim said...

Mental! Totally Mental!

WELL done Martin

Ali

Steve Lewis said...

Super news, Martin, absolutely super!

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks very much, Nan, Ali and Steve. There's a lot of interest in the Detection Club just because of its longevity and associations with famous writers. Much as I love and am proud to be part of the contemporary crime scene, the genre's history is so appealing that I'm already digging into it to come up with future posts that deal with stories not previously covered on the internet.

Juliet said...

Wow, congratulations! What an exciting and memorable evening that must have been.

Roberta Rood said...

Congratulations, Martin! you have every right to be proud and delighted. It is an honor that both you and Ann Cleeves richly deserve. (BTW - Bouchercon was great - if exhausting! You were right to warn me against trying to do everything.)

Jane Finnis said...

Many congratulations, Martin. It sounds wonderful - do post more about the Club, or is it all top secret?! Very well done!
Jane Finnis

Larry Karp said...

Congratulations, Martin. I'm so pleased for you. All the Poisoned Pen Posse will bask in the reflection of your glow. If I could write music, I'd jot down "The Martin's in the Club Now Rag," but I can't, so you'll have to take the thought for the deed. Maybe just as well.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks to all of you.