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The Compleat Adventures of
Jules de Grandin

      This I Remember. The Memoirs
of a Funeral Director

Seabury Quinn
      Jerome Burke
The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box,
3 vols. 1400+ pages
      The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box,
3 vols., each 186 pages

The Compleat Adventures of Jules de Grandin
This I Remember

Book Jackets
The Compleat Adventures of Jules de Grandin
Vol. 1 -- Front    Back
Vol. 2 -- Front    Back
Vol. 3 -- Front    Back
This I Remember
Vol. 1
Vol. 2
Vol. 3
Popular Library: Jules de Grandin
The Adventures
The Casebook
The Hellfire Files
The Horror Chambers
The Skeleton Closet
Seabury Quinn, a.k.a. Jerome Burke
Seabury Quinn was born in Washington, D.C. on January 1, 1889. In 1910, he graduated from the Law School of the National University and was admitted to the District of Columbia bar. He served in World War I, and afterward became editor of a group of trade papers in New York, taught medical jurisprudence, and wrote technical articles, including Syllabus of Mortuary Jurisprudence and pulp fiction. He was never a mortician, but did at one time edit the trade magazine Casket and Sunnyside and also taught mortuary law from 1918 to 1926 at the Renouart School for Embalmers in New York. In 1937, he returned to Washington to represent a chain of trade journals. He became a government lawyer during the duration of World War II. In the 1940s, Quinn was also active in the formation of the Washington Science Fiction Association. A series of strokes forced him into semi-retirement in the 1950s. His last known public appearance was the 1963 World Science Fiction Convention. He died December 24, 1969.

His first published story was "The Stone Image" (The Thrill Book, May 1, 1919). Four years later, Quinn made his first sale to Weird Tales, "The Phantom Farmhouse" (October 1923). In the October 1925 issue, Quinn introduced his famous occult detective Jules de Grandin, whose exploits ran to ninety-three tales by the time they ended in 1951. Of the 500-odd short stories he published, 154 appeared in Weird Tales. He was one of that magazine's most popular contributors, and his stories were given more of its cover illustrations than any other author in the 1920's and 30's. Quinn is also remembered for his classic Christmas novella Roads. Quinn adopted the Jerome Burke pseudonym for his retellings of stories he had gathered from funeral directors and which were published in The Dodge Magazine
BIBLIOGRAPHY: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (in Japanese), 6 (in French)

  • Jules de Grandin: Le Sherlock Holmes du Surnaturel 1, 2, 3
  • The Compleat Jules de Grandin 1
Publisher's Page
Robert E. Howard on Seabury Quinn
"Jules de Grandin Chronology" by Matthew Baugh and Rick Lai
Quinn's account of Lizzie Borden's funeral
Rod Serling's Night Gallery episode based on Quinn story
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Georges T. Dodds

Who was the most popular writer in Weird Tales's original run from 03/1923 to 09/1954? Not Robert E. Howard, not H.P. Lovecraft, not Clark Ashton Smith, all of whom have been extensively reprinted, but one Seabury Quinn. Quinn's stories appeared in no less than 60% of the original run issues of Weird Tales. So why isn't Seabury Quinn a household name? Well, mostly I suspect because many deem him a pulp hack, a connotation which anyone who has read Quinn's Christmas novella Roads knows is a crock -- Quinn simply knew what the people wanted, they wanted pulp and he gave it to them. Reading his retellings of human interest stories garnered from funeral directors (under the pseudonym Jerome Burke, reviewed here) makes it quite obvious that Seabury Quinn could write in perfectly straightforward if a bit saccharine non-sensational prose. Furthermore, his writings in the legal profession, such as his Syllabus of Mortuary Jurisprudence and his editing of funeral service trade magazines (a place where sensational pulp fiction would be most out of place) would suggest that the pulp style was something Quinn could turn on and off, depending on his target market.

While Quinn's early stories in Weird Tales, such as "The Phantom Farmhouse" in the second issue were popular, it was his development of the occult detective Jules de Grandin, beginning in October 1925's "The Horror on the Links" that made him the fixture he became in the "Unique Magazine." Seabury Quinn was certainly not the first writer to develop such a character, Algernon Blackwood's John Silence: Physician Extraordinary (1908), William Hope Hodgson's Carnacki the Ghost-Finder (1913) and Sax Rohmer's Morris Klaw in The Dream Detective (1920), and particularly Jean Ray's Harry Dickson. Le Sherlock Holmes Américain (1931-1940) series having come before or concurrently, nor was he the last. Of course, with his assistant and compiler of adventures Dr. Trowbridge, Jules de Grandin also owed something to Sherlock Holmes.

Most of De Grandin and Trowbridge's adventures occur in the town of Harrisonville, N.J., a town quite as haunted as Lovecraft's Arkham, if perhaps not so much by Old Ones. De Grandin, an eminent French surgeon and former intelligence operative resides there with Dr. Trowbridge, and together they solve crimes with occult or supernatural elements. Quinn's stories, unlike those of Howard, Lovecraft and Smith, are set in a very real, if fictional small-town America. The vast majority of the supernatural and occult elements in Quinn's stories are ultimately resolved to be the work of people, sick and twisted people perhaps, but not trans-dimensional beings or spell-casting wizards. De Grandin was the Kolchak of his time. Quinn from all accounts was the antithesis of the Lovecraft circle, he was no poor Art for Art's sake, reclusive, psychologically-suspect autodidact -- basically, he had a life: a wife, a son, a number of jobs teaching, editing trade magazines, a degree and an on again-off again law career. Where Quinn outdid his rivals at Weird Tales was that he was market savvy, knew what the public wanted, and could crank out entertaining and remarkably unrepetitive pulp fiction with the requisite nudie scene and bad guys getting their just desserts.

Well, I must confess to not having read all the 1400-odd pages of de Grandin tales, even Robert Weinberg in his introduction suggests that the stories be read over a period of time, i.e., "best when taken in moderate doses." However, I had read, some twenty years ago, the 35-odd de Grandin short stories reprinted in five Popular Library paperbacks (1976-77): The Adventures of Jules de Grandin, The Casebook of Jules de Grandin, The Hellfire Files of Jules de Grandin, The Horror Chambers of Jules de Grandin, and The Skeleton Closet of Jules de Grandin. Weinberg's instructive afterwords from these titles are included in the current edition. Also included is an appraisal of de Grandin by a first-time reader, Jim Rockhill, who draws an interesting parallel between Quinn and the composer Georg Philipp Telemann on the one hand and Telemann's contemporary Johann Sebastian Bach and Lovecraft/Howard/Smith on the other: Quinn and Telemann were hugely popular in their time, Bach and Lovecraft/Howard/Smith relatively obscure in theirs. He also dissects the principal themes and elements of the stories.

I had never managed to get my hands on the paperback edition of Quinn's only Jules de Grandin novel: The Devil's Bride, so it is this novel in the current edition that served as my refresher course in de Grandin. In The Devil's Bride, a young bride wearing an odd barbaric silver girdle passed down through her family is mysteriously abducted at the altar. De Grandin soon comes to suspect that the girdle was formerly used to mark a woman first for leadership and later for human sacrifice to the bloodthirsty Satanic cult of the Yezidis. A woman is crucified, and another woman who has witnessed this has had her hands cut off, her eyes pierced and her tongue cut out. Her interrogation leads de Grandin to a sort of Black Mass where a baby is sacrificed on an altar which is the naked body of the kidnapped bride. The young bride is saved, temporarily, but the Yezidis have numerous other Fu Manchu-like tricks up their sleeves, though of course they are ultimately defeated if not exterminated. What struck me most and was most unsettling about the story was the graphic violence, and an underlying sadism... the young blinded woman whose hands were amputated and tongue cut out is forced by de Grandin to spend an hour tapping out answers to his questions with her foot, 23 taps for "W," three taps for "C," all this before she dies. In "The House of Golden Masks" women are enslaved and golden masks permanently wired into their faces. Today's blood and gore school of horror doesn't have much on Quinn's de Grandin stories:

       Nailed fast with railway spikes through outstretched hands and slim crossed feet, she hung upon the cross, her slender, naked body white as carven ivory. Her head inclined towards her left shoulder and her long, black hair hung loosed across the full white breasts which were drawn up firmly by the outstretched arms. Upon her head had been rudely thrust an improvised crown of thorns -- a chaplet of barbed wire cut from some farmer's fence -- and from the punctures that it made, small streams of coral drops ran down. Thin trickles of blood oozed from the torn wounds in her hands and feet, but these had frozen on the flesh, heightening the resemblance to a tinted simulacrum. Her mouth was slightly opened and her chin hung low upon her breast, and from the tongue which lay against her lower lip a single drop of ruby blood, congealed by cold even as it fell, was pendent like a ruddy jewel against the flesh.
The only other scene of a crucified woman that comes anywhere near this occurs in Hanns Heinz Ewers' The Sorcerer's Apprentice where the hero's pregnant mistress is crucified and he is forced to pierce her (and kill her) with a pitchfork to duplicate Jesus' piercing by the Roman soldier's spear. In "Lottë" Quinn creates, in homage to Ewers, an Alraune-like seductress. Besides this, Quinn pushed the limits of sexual propriety with stories having themes or broad hints of incest ("The Jest of Warburg Tantavul"), and lesbian behaviour ("The Poltergeist"), besides the requisite nude scenes to serve as cover fodder.

For pulp literature all these things are to the good, and if you like pulp literature you're sure to enjoy the de Grandin tales. However, in The Devil's Bride there are some elements which when read at 18 may be amusing, but when read as an adult are a bit grating. De Grandin is forever exclaiming things in French like "ah, par la barbe d'un poisson rouge! (ah, by the beard of the goldfish!) and "nom d'un chou-fleur (in the name of a cauliflower), which besides not being French expressions anyone but de Grandin has ever used, are silly and reminiscent of Robin's exclamations of "Holy tomato juice, Batman!" Besides this, the Yezidi Satanists are discovered to be in league with Russian atheists, as though the latter would even acknowledge the existence of Satan. Notwithstanding these criticisms, the de Grandin stories are highly entertaining and remarkably free of ethnic slurs for the era in which they were written. Certainly many of the stories do not have entirely happy endings, and not all the victims can simply regain their former lives. De Grandin while he often serves as judge, jury and executioner, is not above sympathizing with some of the villains who have been driven to their actions by unfair treatment at the hands of others. Similarly, sometimes it is expedient for de Grandin to simply blast a were-wolf to kingdom-come with a shotgun, whereas at other times Christian paraphenalia (crucifixes, rosaries, etc.) is used to greater effect.

The Jerome Burke stories collected in three volumes of This I Remember are a completely different side of Seabury Quinn's work. These stories are reminiscences of funeral directors Quinn knew in his capacity as editor of a number of trade publications which he retold and published in The Dodge Magazine a publication of the Dodge Company, purveyors of fine embalming fluids. Written in the 1950s, these stories are totally unlike Quinn's Weird Tales material. These are human interest stories, and except for "The Touch of a Vanished Hand" in Vol. 1, have no supernatural elements. They are narrated by a small-town funeral director of Irish descent and describe how different funerals were handled, and the unexpected bonuses of doing a good turn to someone. While perhaps a bit saccharine in places, and overly-laden with folk-wisdom, these feel-good stories are a fascinating glance into the world of funeral directors. Certainly these stories show that Quinn was not a one-trick pony.

Now, at $250 the three coffee-table size hardcover volumes of The Compleat Adventures of Jules de Grandin might appear a bit steep, but the old paperback editions only collected a third of the tales, didn't reproduce the Weird Tales covers, and are now fairly difficult to find. (I found mine second-hand at Downtown Books in Duluth, Minnesota in the summer of 1979 and have seen few since.) The Arkhan House title The Phantom Fighter, besides being long out of print, only collected 10 of the tales, and collecting the close to 100 issues of the original Weird Tales would certainly set you back a great deal more. Certainly if you're partial to pulp horror, this is amongst the best out there. Conversely, if occult detectives are not your cup-of-tea, then perhaps you might be best entertained by Quinn's tales of the funeral director trade.

Copyright © 2002 Georges T. Dodds

Georges Dodds is a research scientist in vegetable crop physiology, who for close to 25 years has read and collected close to 2000 titles of predominantly pre-1950 science-fiction and fantasy, both in English and French. He writes columns on early imaginative literature for WARP, the newsletter/fanzine of the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association and maintains a site reflecting his tastes in imaginative literature.

Introductory Remarks
TitleAuthorThe Compleat Adventures of Jules de Grandin
My Life With Jules de GrandinRobert Weinberg1ix
Afterword from The Skeleton ClosetRobert Weinberg1xii
Afterword from The Horror ChambersRobert Weinberg1xiii
Afterword from Hellfire FilesRobert Weinberg1xv
Afterword from The AdventuresRobert Weinberg1xvii
Afterword from The CasebookRobert Weinberg1xix
By Way of ExplanationSeabury Quinn1
My Father and ISeabury Quinn, Jr.2v
The Occult Delights of Jules de GrandinJim Rockhill3ix
Jules de Grandin Stories by Seabury Quinn
TitleWeird Tales AppearanceThe Compleat Adventures of Jules de Grandin
MonthYearCover artistVolumePage
Ancient Fires September 1926   1 66
The Black Master January 1929 Senf 1 262
Black Moon October 1938   3 1191
The Black Orchid August 1935   3 1016
The Bleeding Mummy November 1932   2 770
The Blood Flower March 1927   1 106
Body and Soul September 1928   1 221
The Body Snatchers November 1950   3 1405
The Brain-Thief May 1930 Senf 2 503
The Bride of Dewer June 1930   2 533
Catspaws July 1946 Fox 3 1348
The Chapel of Mystic Horror December 1928   1 245
Children of the Bat January 1937 Brundage 3 1069
Children of Ubasti December 1929   1 367
The Chosen of Vishnu August 1933 Brundage 2 853
Clair de Lune November 1947   3 1378
Conscience Maketh Cowards November 1949   3 1396
The Corpse Master July 1929 Senf 1 320
Creeping Shadows August 1927   1 138
The Curse of Everard Maundy July 1927   1 125
The Curse of the House of Phipps January 1930 Senf 1 380
The Dark Angel August 1932   2 736
Daughter of the Moonlight August 1930   2 546
The Dead-Alive Mummy October 1935   3 1026
The Dead Hand May 1926   1 51
Death's Bookkeeper June 1944 Tilburne 3 1279
The Devil's Bride February-
1932 Senf 2 659
The Devil People February 1929   1 275
The Devil's Rosary April 1929 Rankin 1 292
The Door to Yesterday December 1932   2 783
The Druid's Shadow October 1930 Rankin 2 561
The Drums of Damballah March 1930 Senf 1 392
The Dust of Egypt April 1930 Rankin 1 410
Eyes in the Dark November 1946   3 1368
Flames of Vengeance December 1937   3 1125
Frozen Beauty February 1938 Finlay; 3 1140
A Gamble in Souls January 1933   2 799
The Ghost Helper February-
1931   2 622
The Gods of East and West January 1928 Senf 1 168
The Great God Pan October 1926   1 77
The Green God's Ring January 1945   3 1289
The Grinning Mummy December 1926   1 83
The Hand of Glory July 1933 Brundage 2 838
Hands of the Dead January 1935   3 1003
The Heart of Siva October 1931 Brundage 2 753
The Horror on the Links October 1925   1 3
The House of Golden Masks June 1929 Rankin 1 307
The House of Horror July 1926   1 57
The House of the Three Corpses August 1939   3 1250
The House Where Time Stood Still March 1939   3 1222
The House Without a Mirror November 1929   1 353
Incense of Abomination March 1938 Brundage 3 1154
The Isle of Missing Ships February 1926   1 27
The Jest of Warburg Tantavul September 1934   2 926
The Jewel of Seven Stones April 1928 Senf 1 195
Kurban January 1946 Tilburne 3 1314
Living Buddhess November 1937 Brundage 3 1113
Lords of the Ghostland March 1945   3 1289
The Lost Lady January 1931 Senf 2 605
Lottë September 1946   3 1358
Malay Horror September 1933   2 870
The Man in Crescent Terrace March 1946   3 1326
The Mansion of Unholy Magic October 1933   2 882
Mansions in the Sky June-July 1939   3 1238
The Man Who Cast No Shadow February 1927 Petrie 1 95
Mephistopheles and Company, Ltd. February 1928   1 181
Pledged to the Dead October 1937   3 1100
The Poltergeist October 1927   1 157
The Poltergeist of Swan Upping February 1939   3 1206
The Priestess of the Ivory Feet June 1930   2 516
The Ring of Bastet September 1951   3 1414
A Rival from the Grave January 1936 Brundage 3 1037
Red Gauntlet of Czerni December 1933 Brundage 2 898
The Red Knife of Hassan January 1934 Brundage 2 913
Restless Souls October 1928   1 232
Satan's Palimpset September 1937 Brundage 3 1085
Satan's Stepson September 1931   2 632
The Serpent Woman June 1928   1 210
The Silver Countess October 1929   1 342
Stealthy Death November 1930   2 574
Stoneman's Memorial May 1942   3 1265
Suicide Chapel June 1938 Brundage 3 1167
The Tenants of Broussac December 1925 Doolin 1 13
The Thing in the Fog March 1933 Brundage 2 817
Three in Chains May 1946   3 1336
Trespassing Souls September 1929   1 329
Vampire Kith and Kin May 1949   3 1387
The Veiled Prophetess May 1927   1 116
The Vengeance of India April 1926   1 44
The Venomed Breath of Vengeance August 1938   3 1180
The White Lady of the Orphanage September 1927   1 147
Witch-House November 1936 Brundage 3 1053
The Wolf of St. Bonnot December 1930 Rankin 2 591

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