4. Danger! Being the Log of Captain John Sirius
Danger! is a short story written by Conan Doyle in 1914 to alert politicians and the British public to the dangers of unrestricted submarine warfare. If you want to avoid spoilers, we recommend you read the story here (https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php/Danger!).
The episode can be heard here, http://doingsofdoyle.podbean.com/.
There has been an incident in one of the colonies which has involved the deaths of two missionaries and Great Britain and the small European state of Norland have been drawn into war with one another. The King and Ministers of Norland have little hope of victory. Captain John Sirius, who commands the nation’s fleet of eight submarines, is convinced he can win the war by a form of unrestricted submarine warfare against the merchant shipping that supplies much of Britain’s food. The idea seems ludicrous, but as Sirius’s submarines begin their campaign in earnest and losses mount, it begins to appear that Norland may be able to bring the military and imperial colossus that is Britain to its knees…
Writing and publication history
- First published in The Strand Magazine in July 1914 (and Collier’s in the USA a month later), on the eve of the First World War.
- It was accompanied in The Strand Magazine by a short article ‘What Naval Experts Think,’ which consisted of commentaries on Conan Doyle’s story from notable figures.
- It was included as the title story in Danger! And Other Stories (John Murray, 1918).
Origins and inspirations
- General Friedrich Von Berhardi (1849-1930), author of Germany and the Next War (1912), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_von_Bernhardi
- Forerunners of the Channel Tunnel, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Channel_Tunnel
- Conan Doyle’s Great Britain and the Next War (1913), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=Great_Britain_and_the_Next_War
- The Prince Henry Tour (1911), a motor rally that took place between Britain and Germany, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prinz-Heinrich-Fahrt
- Major General Earnest Swinton (1868-1951), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Swinton
- The Agadir Crisis (1911), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agadir_Crisis
- Admiral Percy Scott (1853-1924), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percy_Scott
Conan Doyle on British naval preparedness
- ‘The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans’ (The Strand Magazine, December 1908), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php/The_Adventure_of_the_Bruce-Partington_Plans
- ‘The Adventure of the Naval Treaty’ (The Strand Magazine, October-November 1893), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php/The_Adventure_of_the_Naval_Treaty
- ‘His Last Bow: The War Service of Sherlock Holmes’ (The Strand Magazine, September 1917), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php/His_Last_Bow
- The Last Galley (The London Magazine, November 1910), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php/The_Last_Galley
- Olympic-class ocean liners including the Olympic, Lusitania and Titanic, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympic-class_ocean_liner
- Unrestricted submarine warfare, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unrestricted_submarine_warfare
- Fred Jane (1865-1916), author of Jane’s Fighting Ships, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_T._Jane
- Admiral Charles Cooper Penrose-Fitzgerald (1841-1921), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Cooper_Penrose-Fitzgerald
- The “H.B.” letter (thanks to Alexis Barquin for sourcing), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php/German_Aliens_(H._B.)
- The response from Conan Doyle and Greenhough Smith, editor of The Strand Magazine, https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php/Sir_Arthur_Conan_Doyle_about_Danger!
- BBC article on Danger!, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-28954510
- George Thompkins Cheney, The Battle of Dorking (Blackwood’s Magazine, 1871).
- William Le Queux, The Great War in England in 1897 (1894)
- William Le Queux, The Invasion of 1910 (1906).
- Saki (H. H. Munro), When William Came: A Story of England under the Hohenzollerns (1913).
- Erskine Childers, The Riddle of the Sands (1903).
- John Buchan, The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915).
- H. G. Wells, The War in the Air (1908) and The War of the Worlds (1897).
- P. G. Wodehouse, The Swoop! Or How Clarence Saved England (1909).
- Alexis Barquin curates The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopaedia which has an immense wealth of information plus the original text and various illustrations, https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/
- For anyone wishing to research Doyle's life and work, Brian W. Pugh's A Chronology of the Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is nothing short of essential, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chronology-Life-Arthur-Conan-Doyle/dp/1787053466/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=brian+pugh+chronology+conan+doyle&qid=1578475643&sr=8-1.
Next time on the Doings of Doyle…
The Man With The Watches and The Lost Special (1898).
Image credits: Thanks to Alexis Barquin at The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopaedia for permission to reproduce these images. Please support the encyclopaedia at www.arthur-conan-doyle.com.