Anthology: The Man Who … (ed. by H.R.F. Keating) – 13 signatures


A special anthology by the Detection Club with classic authors to celebrate the 80th birthday of past president Julian Symons. Symons (1912 – 1994) was a key figure in the broadening of the genre to explore the individual and society in more depth; this encompassed character, psychological and literary aspects of the novel. Signed by 13 crime and thriller writers, including several legends,and issued in various binding states including one with a hand written message from Julian Symons.

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Britain’s Detection Club, founded in 1930 by such legends of the genre as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers, celebrates the 80th birthday of previous president (1976 – 1985) Julian Symons.  Symons was a key figure in the broadening of the crime and detection genre to take on more of an emphasis on character, psychological and literary aspects of the novel. It said that he anticipated the development of the crime novel, and was a champion of P D James, Ruth Rendell and Len Deighton; arguing that they the best work surpassed the troupes of the form and must therefore be more widely recognised as literature.

Eric AmblerPD JamesRuth Rendell

Symons wrote over 30 novels,exploring the individual and society in more depth than had been the case before; these were often studies of character, with psychological insights and literary aspects of the novel. Several of his books had the title The Man Who … and therefore Mr Keating asked the authors of the volume to write a story in honour of Symons beginning with the same style. This anthology contains the big three writers whom Mr Symons encouraged to take risks and whose work blossomed and flourished – Len Deighton, P D James and Ruth Rendell. A surprise inclusion was the spy fiction writer Eric Ambler. Ambler was a major spy writer of the late 1930s, and whose influence was felt in the novels of Graham Greene and John le Carre. Ambler was called the “master of the modern thriller” by the fanzine Crime Time and he has a continuing influence in the novels of modern thriller writers such as Robert Harris and Alan Furst.

Michael GilbertReginald HillJulian Symons

Other contributors to the anthology are: Catherine Aird, Simon Brett, Antonia Fraser, Michael Gilbert, Reginald Hill , H R F Keating, Peter Lovesey, George Sims and Michael Underwood. Many of them are stalwarts of the Detection Club and were particularly fond of the short story. Thirteen desirable author signatures in all.

Published in 1992 in an edition of 125 numbered and signed copies, the first 15 contained a limitation page and a short message hand-written by Julian Symons, and issued in a deluxe binding and slip-cased. A further 20 deluxe lettered copies also with five raised bands and silver plating to the top edge of the pages were issued for private distribution. It also carries an illustration of a man coming down a stairway by Gary Short. A most handsome volume.  Collectors may wish to note that one of the ordinary numbered copies was sold at Christies Auction House in New York in 2002 for $956.  It was the headline item of a lot of twelve books.


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