06 February 2013

Invitation to a dinner party

by Robert Lopresti

Gyles Brandreth is an Englishman who writes mystery novels featuring real-life Victorians.  He recently pointed out this interesting group. Ponder if you will:

J.M. Barrie
Arthur Conan Doyle
E.W. Hornung
Robert Louis Stevenson
Bram Stoker
Oscar Wilde

What do these six men have in common, besides being famous British authors? 

They made up the roster at a single dinner party.  That's right, the creators of Dracula, Dorian Gray, Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Jeckyl, Peter Pan, and A.J. Raffles once sat down for a festive meal together.

The only one of these who may not be instantly familiar is Raffles, the creation of Doyle's brother-in-law Hornung.  Raffles was a "gentleman thief," an early example of a rogue hero, and deliberately intended as a sort of anti-Holmes.

Imagine for one horrible second how literature would have changed if, say, a boiler had blown up the restaurant that night.  My word, for one thing, cyberpunk might have died before being born.

And don't you wish we had a recording of what these six gentlemen discussed that night?  And would anyone bet against me if I guessed it was taxes and the weather?

For more thoughts on that very subject, read the Mary Killen column in which Brandreth brought up the dinner party.  Bon appetit!


Janice Law said...

What about a mystery set at that dinner?

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

I'm sorry, Rob, but I don't believe for one second that Oscar Wilde talked about the weather. He had a reputation to maintain! On the other hand, depending on what age they were at the time of the dinner party, they might have devoted some time to the organ recital...no, scratch that, Victorian gentlemen didn't talk about their health and fitness or medical symptoms the way we moderns do.

Eve Fisher said...

My bet is they talked about contacting the dead.

Jeff Baker said...

Hmmmmm....Why am I thinking of the Black Widowers?

Dixon Hill said...

I agree with Eve. I think they discussed contact with the dead.

And, thanks a ton for bringing this up, and pointing me toward that terrific article, Rob.


Unknown said...

I always try to read and search about these famous British authors and i read a lot about these personalities which i never forget.dinnerparties.co.uk Thank you so much for talking about these great person.