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In re: Drs. J. de Grandin & S. Trowbridge

12 Mar

Since I published The Compleat Adventures of Dr. Jules de Grandin in three volumes at the end of August 2001, I have been asked many times what ever motivated me to undertake such a project? I would attempt at the time to give a simple explanation to the questioner, but I found myself repeating the same concatenation of facts and events, and frequently leaving out a number of the pieces of the mosiac for the sake of brevity.
I can say with a considerable degree of certainty that what follows is more or less what happened, although the people mentioned may place, and likely will place a different spin and perspective on the situation.
First of all I was born in 1946, so I can’t attest to have read these stories in my childhood! I remember that my father had a magazine rack in his Pharmacy when I was a child. It disappeared in the early 1950s when the pharmacy converted to selling only pharmaceuticals and therapeutic nostrums, and stopped selling candy and magazines. I hesitate to confess I missed the candy more than the pulps.
I first heard of Dr. Jules de Grandin and his adventures from a colleague William Nadel in one of those long evening telephone conversations about everything in general and nothing in particular. Bill and I have been collaborating on book entitled A Sherlock Holmes Old Time Radio Show Companion since January 1991; this collaboration still continues today, and the book is yet to be published. I usually see him at least once a year in New Year City in January on the Sherlock Holmes Birthday weekend sponsored by The Baker Street Irregulars, usually in the lobby of the Algonquin Hotel or at one of the events. The Radio Show Companion progresses very slowly, I have a working galley, but Nadel’s onging research into date of radio show performances, and the chapters on Edith Meiser are still a work in progress. In any case on one of my irregular telephone calls to motivate Bill to do a chapter and send it to me, he deftly changed the subject and mused about how he had read Dr Jules de Grandin stories as a child in Weird Tales magazine, and how difficult they were to find, and collecting them would be a good idea. He didn’t know exactly how many they were but there could be up to a 100 of them. Bill commented that Dr. Jules de Grandin and his sidekick Dr. Trowbridge were noted as the Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson of the Supernatural Sleuths. The conversation then drifted to Jacques Futrelle (The Thinking Machine stories), Baroness Orczy (The Old Man in the Corner stories, and The Scarlet Pimpernel), R. Austin Freeman (Dr. John Evelyn Thorndyke) and Maurice LeBlanc (Arsène Lupin). At the end of it, the seed was planted for de Grandin project and this was in 1996, or perhaps earlier. The seeds were also planted for the other Detectives as well.
I was talking with Peter Ruber the next day. Peter and I conversed virtually daily by phone back in those days, because we were collaborating on a collection of the writings of Charles Emerson Vincent Starrett. This project too, is still today, very much a work in progress; it is entitled The Vincent Starrett Memorial Library. Twelve of the twenty-four volumes have now appeared in print, and the other 12 volumes exist electronically on my computer’s hard drive, and are all virtually complete in text, and await an assortment of things such as a final proof reading, or the design of a dustjacket.
Well back to de Grandin, Peter knew of the Jules de Grandin stories. In fact he mentioned that August Derleth had published two of Seabury Quinn’s books — Roads (Arkham House) and The Phantom Fighter (Mycroft and Moran). Peter thought it would be a good idea to try and find the copyright holder who was either the second wife or the son Seabury Quinn, Jr. to seek permission to proceed with the project.
But in the meantime he had already assembled a collection of essays that Quinn wrote for Weird Tales entitled “Weird Crimes” and “Servants of Satan” and we decided to start with this collection. Initially the plan was for two separate publications, but as the page proofs came together, it was apparent that a single volume would suffice.
Over the course of the nine months this search continued, and Peter finally found the son living in retirement in The Bronx in New York. He was very agreeable to the project, and knew nothing of the second wife who had married his father after he had his first stroke. She had been his nurse prior to the marriage, and the son and the step mother did not get along well, and he had not heard about her in over 10 years. I subsequently found information about the registration of her death in a small community outside of Boston in 1986, and therefore did not pursue the matter further. Seabury Quinn’s filing cabinet likely followed with the widow to Massachusetts, and is now lost in the sands of time!
Peter also knew that Seabury had written editorials for Casket and Sunnyside, a trade magazine serving the Funeral Home Industry. When Quinn stepped down as the Editor of this magazine he assumed the responsibility of Editor for another trade magazine produced by The Dodge Chemical Company of Boston Massachusetts. There were some current issues of this magazine available from the local mortician, but I was initially unable to unearth any archive, and none of the Reference Libraries I checked had a run of this journal. I contacted John Dodge at Dodge Company Headquarters, and he graciously invited me to the company library in Boston because they had a complete bound run available to refer to. I visited the library for two days in May 1997, and worked through every issue of the magazine. Quinn started to write for the magazine in 1936. Each magazine contained an editorial, and also a column entitled “This I Remember” by Jerome Burke. This column was written by Quinn, but published under the pseudonym Jerome Burke. There were over 145 of these separate columns, and then in the early 1970s, three years after his death, the columns started a second run, and they still appear in the quarterly magazine published today. I made a second set of photocopies of this series, and sent it along to Peter Ruber, who felt, that these would be of limited interest to those who read Quinn’s weird and horror fiction. And so, I set the project aside until the Jules de Grandin project was completed.
In the fall of 1997 Peter Ruber sent me a photocopy from Weird Tales of two of the Jules de Grandin adventures. Neither of them inspired me. I did read them with interest, and I spoke with Allen Hubin in White Bear Lake Minnesota who kindly forwarded a Seabury Quinn Bibliography from one of the many reference works on his shelves. Allen and I first talked of his major reference work Crime Fiction II. He was working to produce a CD-ROM version entitled Crime Fiction III. More recently Allen Hubin and I are now collaborating to publish his magnum opus Crime Fiction IV, a comprehensive bibiliography of crime fiction from 1749 through 2000.
In January 1998, I flew out of Buffalo airport to attend the Sherlock Holmes’s Birthday Weekend in New York City. The weather was inclement and I drove to Alden New York the night prior to the trip to overnight with Carl Thiel. We had a great evening of conversation after a trip to McDonald’s and I retired to the spare bedroom, with the room lined with shelves of books. I found a couple of items of great interest on those shelves that evening, but in particular a couple of collections of the A.J. Raffles stories by E.W. Hornung and a couple of paper back collections of Jules de Grandin stories with commentary by Robert Weinberg. Carl let me borrow them on a read and return basis. I read these with great interest on the flight to New York from Buffalo and the return flight three days later.
I was more inspired with the Raffles character, and on my next trip to Sauk City, Wisconsin I visited “Place of Hawks,” the home of August Derleth and chatted with April his daughter and her husband David Rajel. I got permission to borrow the Raffles titles from the library of August Derleth to scan them at my leisure. I got Mr. Justice Raffles, on interlibrary loan. I borrowed a copy of the play from Richard Lancelyn Green, but the A.J. Raffles Portfolio and The Collected Works of E. W. Hornung is the subject of another article, but while E.W. is a great story teller he is hardly the subject of interest for the Weird or Horror story afficiado!
I returned the Raffles books a couple of months later in the spring and had a long talk with Dave Rajel at that time. The subject turned to Seabury Quinn, and David went upstairs and came back with Roads and The Phantom Fighter from the Family collection of Arkham House titled. I borrowed these two volumes next and returned them the next day after visiting Giedrerich’s print shop in Prairie de Sac to make copies. Roads fascinated me, and the collection of stories in The Phantom Fighter sparked my interest to read more.
I mentioned this to Dave when I returned the books, and he grinned mischievously, and took me down downstairs to the basement room across from the Derleth’s Detective and Weird and Horror Fiction library. He showed me a wonderful collection of Weird Tales Magazines carefully preserved in mylar folders. I happened to have the Quinn bibiliography list that Hubin had sent me in the car.
The rest of the day was a write off. I meticulously worked through the many, many volumes of Weird Tales — in immaculate condition — I might add, something that was totally lost on me in my ignorance. These issues dated back to the early 1920s, and they were obviously accumulated by Derleth starting as a teenager.
The pile selected fit nicely into an Archive Box. The next day was a write off as well, standing patiently in front of a photocopier at Giegerich’s. I was ably assisted by Henry Russell who kindly made high definition colour reproductions of all the covers that featured de Grandin stories. I also first discovered that Quinn had written other weird-horror fiction besides the De Grandin tales. Starting in the late thirties, I discovered many other Quinn stories, that had illustrated covers. These were not listed in the list from Hubin, and this was a temporary loose end. I made photocopies of them as well, but laid the project aside in lieu of completing the de Grandin collection.
I now had a list of a total of 93 stories that I was looking for. I had a total of 63 from the Derleth archives. All I had to do was scan and proof read these, and continue to look for more. The foxed pulp paper and the Weird Tales text font in two columns, combines to be a difficult scan, and so the proof reading proved to be a lenthy and laborious process which I plodded away on through 1998 and early 1999 while I contined to work on various other Derleth collections including In Lovecraft’s Shadow and The Final Adventures of Solar Pons. Now each of these books have their stories as well! but those are both the subject of another essay and another day.
In June of 1999 my internet provider decided to go out of business, and I was left with no e-mail service (gav@gbd.com) for the summer. I quite enjoyed it, but when I got a new service in August and a new and present e-mail address (gav@bmts.com), I retrieved a batch of 300 messages in one lump from the business who inherited the server equipment of my original provider. I worked my way meticulously through these messages, and there were a couple of frustrated messages from Alice Bentley of The Stars Our Destination a purveyor of books in Chicago who wanted to purchase a wholesale quantity of In Lovecraft’s Shadow and other Derleth titles for her inventory. I was travelling to Sauk City to attend the Walden West Festival in late September. It was held early that year to accommodate the visit of Ramsay Campbell. I offered to personally deliver the order because I was passing through Chicago and could save her the postage expense. Alice and I shared coffee that morning that I delivered the books, and we got to know each other. She mentioned that she had purchased her mail order book business from Bob Weinberg and that Mail Order was a significant part of her business, and Mail Order was where most of the Derleth titles sold.
I asked where did Bob Weinberg live? She told me and furthermore gave me his address and phone number in the South Chicago suburbs. The car was however still loaded with books and I continued my trip to Sauk City. I delivered Bourland to James P. Roberts and The Weird Western Adventures of Haakon Jones to Aaron P. Larson. I also delivered books to Arkham House and to The August Derleth Society. The car was empty but I did have a working page proofs of the de Grandin Omnibus with me. It was a memorable weekend (an understatement). Ramsay Campbell gave a great presentation, and I met the founder of the August Derleth Society Richard Fawcett and his wife Jayne who were visiting from Uncasville, Connecticut. Dick Fawcett had a look at the de Grandin project as it existed at that time and gave me strong encouragement to continue it to completion. He also noted that he would very much like to see Roads back in print.
I called Bob Weinberg that Friday evening, and we made arrangements for me to visit him at his home, upon my return visit from Sauk City. Bob and I met the next Tuesday afternoon. I didn’t have any problem finding his home. I showed him the De Grandin page proofs for the 63 stories and asked if he could help with the remainder. He went to the garage and came back with a set of his 6 paperbacks which he had collected some 30 plus of the stories. I posted Carl’s two volumes back to him when I got home the next day)
Over the course of the next nine months I worked with Bob to collect the remaining stories. I would borrow the selected volumes of Weird Tales on my way to Sauk City. I would make the copies and Henry would make copy of the requisite colour covers. and I would return the volumes on my return trip to Shelburne.
In mid-2000 I received an e-mail from Jim Rockhill of Dowagiac, Michigan. He had posted an inquiry to the August Derleth Society Web Site, and I had received it for a reply. I called Jim, and we discussed many matters relating to Derleth and other Weird and Horror Fiction authors. I asked him if he would be interested in proof reading the de Grandin Stories? He agreed. I suggested that as he was proofing the stories, he should consider writing an essay for Volume Three and he agreed to do this as well.
Dick and Jayne Fawcett and I met Seabury Quinn Junior for Dinner in New York City in January 2001, and Seabury agreed to write a brief commentary for Volume 2.
Bob Weinberg also agreed to written additional commentary for Volume one. On one of my subsequent visits to Bob’s place I discussed the other Weird Fiction by Quinn, and he gave me a mimeographed list of the contents of Weird Tales. This was useful, and I compiled a definitive list of all Quinn’s other appearances in the magazine, as well a selection of other Quinn writings that also appeared in the pulps.
Bob suggested that Seabury had written a series of five short stories featuring Carlos the Murderer entitled The Vagabond-at-Arms. I suggested that would make a great “next” project when the de Grandin Volumes were completed. This volume was published in late 2001.
The page proofs had grown from one volume to two volumes and finally three volumes. Initially the stories were all added to the end of the computer file, and then they were sorted in the order of their first appearance in Weird Tales and divided into the three separate volumes.
I attended Walden West Festival in Sauk City again in October 2000. I met Dwayne Olson and Philip Ramon one of the principals behind Fedogan and Bremer. He suggested that I should work with Charles McKee who ran an on-line book shop on the internet. I was in touch with Charles, and he arranged to take prepublication orders for The Compleat Adventures of Jules de Grandin.
Bob Weinberg had been invited to attend the Festival as the Guest Speaker. He spoke on Derleth’s weird and horror fiction as it appeared in Weird Tales. We had a great weekend together and visited Place of Hawks and met with the Derleth family as well as travelling around Sauk City to see all the familiar sites including the Railroad Bridge which has now been blown up — but that’s another story. Bob presented his latest publication Horror of the 20th Century: An Illustrated History to April Derleth, a collection of magazine and horror fiction art work. In fact this publication was the reason that there was a delay in the deGrandin project. I picked up the last of the covers illustrations and the remaining stories which were contained in volumes that had been sent to Bob’s printer for this latest publication. The accumulation of text and covers was now complete. A total of 92 stories and one novel in addition to 35 different colour covers. A set of page proofs was prepared and dispatched to Jim Rockhill, who had already been working on the project for some time.
Jim carefully worked through the page proofs, and did an excellent job over the next 6 months of proof reading the stories.
I was also introduced to Philp Ramon at this Walden West Festival. He was one of the co-owners of Fedogan and Bremer, and he suggested I get in touch with Charles McKee who ran in web site in British Columbia. Charles listed all the F&B publications, and Philip though that Charles would be interested in also listing the publications of The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box.
I was in touch with Charles and he was interested, especially in the de Grandin project, and he mounted a campaign to obtain pre-publication orders. this was very successful, and in large measure accounts for the print printing of one hundred sets selling out before they were received. Likewise the second printing of sixty sets; a third printing of sixty sets; and a fourth printing of forty sets. Now Charles McKee has teased me about this low initial print run, and I suppose to a degree the criticism is justified — but here’s my excuse. I use a printer in Kitchener which is a 125 kilometer drive from home, and that’s 250 kilometers roundtrip. Now sixty sets of three is a nice comfortable load for my jeep with the read seat down. A larger printing simply wouldn’t fit and it would make a necessity of two trips. These sets are expensive to produce, and when you are printing and custom binding them individually, it is simply not necessary to maintain a large inventory. There is no economy of scale in producing larger print runs, until you get above 500 sets.
There was one printing problem in Volume 2 of the first printing. Four lines of text at the end of one story on page 662 ran into the cover of the next story on the same page. This was corrected for the second printing retaining the same pagination. Otherwise the various printings are identical.
The prepublication price of the set of three volumes was $225.00 plus shipping. The current price is $250 plus shipping. This is not likely to change in the foreseeable future.
I have received many compliments on the production standards for the set. I take no credit for this whatsoever. The text blocks are printed two up by a Xerox Docutect printer at M&T InstaPrint of Kitchener Ontario on 70 lb Plainefield white, grain short paper. These text block are knifed in two and sent shipped for custom binding by Bookshelf Bindery of Ridgetown, Ontario with black buxom with gold embossing on the front board and on the spine. The distinctive woven red ribbon bookmark comes from a spool I acquired in Nairobi, Kenya where I served as a Flight Surgeon in the Canadian Armed Forces for six weeks in 1993. But that’s another story!
The logo used for the set was designed by Henry Lauritzen for Peter Ruber in 1968 for his Candlelight Press when he was publishing the works of August Derleth. Peter invited me to adopt it and I have with considerable pride. It features a candle, book and deerstalker cap, and the the name — The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box — derived from the fact that most of the publications are Sherlockian scholarship and pastiches, and Dr. John H. Watson kept his papers for his Sherlock Holmes cases in a Battered Tin Dispatch Box in the vaults of Cox and Company in London. This building was destroyed in WWII in the German Blitz bombing of London in 1940. Since I use a microcomputer to compile the various literary projects, and they are stored on the computer’s hard drive and are managed with a silicon chip, I substituted “silicon” for “tin” and hence the name. One than one person has frankly told me its a silly name, not memorable and too long. I agree on the first and third counts, but the problem is I like it! and that’s the end of that discussion.
I have been criticized for the assembled two part full colour dustjackets. Some collectors have recoiled in horror when they learn I used Scotch 3M invisible tape to reinforce the assembly with Lepage’s two way stick glue. I take full responsibility for this decision. I attribute the two part DJ to a matter of cost. The Colour Docutect 80 has a limitation in size to 11 x 17″. These folio size volumes require an oversized DJ. A minimum length of 2 x 8½” + spine + width of front and back flap is required. The cost of doing three jackets by the traditional route for a small print run is simply prohibitive.
I picked the first printing up at the end of August 2001 and had them all in the mail before departing for Door County for the 1st Reunion of Canonical Conference and Caper. A thoroughly memorable weekend. The last before September 11th!
I received positive feedback from many of the purchasers, and they requested more Seabury Quinn. I took up the Vagabond project once again, and worked on This I Remember (March 2002). I also produced a new edition of Roads (June 2002) using the original Weird Tales text and new illustrations by Paul Churchill.
I have now collected all the other Quinn appearances in Weird Tales, as well as other pulp magazine appearances of Quinn’s weird and horror fiction. It looks as if this form another two similar size volumes. But the difference is there will be not so many covers to illustrate. These stories will fit into another volume which I have tentatively titled The Other Weird Fiction of Seabury Quinn (Volume 4)
I have also started to collect all the Professor Forrester Detective Stories series, The Major Harvey Sturdevant of the Secret Service stories and Captain Sir Haddingway Ingraham Jameson Ingraham (Hiji) stories which appeared in Short Stories. Aomw of these titles are proving quite elusive, and interested readers should contact me at the e-mail listed above for the current want list. There’s about 12 stories on the list.
Adding up all the appearance my count comes to approximately 300 stories. Now Seabury Quinn himself relates in an introduction to The Phantom Fighter, that he published over 500 short stories. Was his memory playing a trick on him, or are there still more than 200 stories to find in the pulps? Did he ever publish under a pseudonym? Other than the “This I Remember” series by Jerome Burke I don’t know of any other pseudonyms.
When Seabury Quinn died on Christmas Eve in 1969 virtually none of his writing was in print. I can say with some pride that Seabury Quinn and the character he created are now back in print, and they are likely to remain so for the forseeable future.
I had dinner with his son Seabury Quinn, Junior at The Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station in New York City in early January 2003. It was a great seafood repast and a great evening of conversation, cheese and cigars. We talked of his father and his writing—
So there you have it, my recollection of how I came to publish the three volumes of The Compleat Adventures of Jules de Grandin by Seabury Quinn — good memories all!

This was an article I wrote for Pulpcon a couple of years ago now. It appeared in their magazine, but almost a year late, but it did appear. At Pulpcon 2007, I was welcomed by a number of members of Peaps to the group and I was very flattered, and regretted not being able to visit Brian’s suite to dialogue. It was suggested that I had not included by “autobiography” with my first contribution, and I set about to do so, but realized that the article above contained most if not all of what I was going to say, so why reinvent the wheel?
The following eight pages further outline the various pulp projects that will occupy my time in the next couple of years. I welcome you constructive comments to expand and improve them.
The first page announces the Secret Six, a six-pack of projects from Argosy which have been referred to in previous editions of Peaps, but also The Satan Hall Omnibus. The six-pack also refers to the Editorial Board (The Sacred Six) which meets irregularly, but keeps in touch electronically. I also include the Table of Contents for Gillian Hazeltine by Worts, The Philip Strange Stories by Kehoe, and The A.E. Apple series of Mr. Change and Mr. Rafferty adventures. Collectively these contain quite a few words which will be attacked one pulp at a time.

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One response to “In re: Drs. J. de Grandin & S. Trowbridge

  1. Glontilioke

    April 4, 2009 at 6:26 am

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