4. Danger! Being the Log of Captain John Sirius

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

Conan Doyle on British naval preparedness

Historical details

Invasion literature

  • 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).

Recommended reading

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.

Music credit: Sneaky Snitch Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons:  By Attribution 3.0 License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/


  1. Mark, many thanks for alerting us to this other piece of Doyle's "spiritual defense", "geistige Landesverteidigung" as we call it in German.
    You rightly point out in your references to the Prince Henry Tour which Doyle of course joined in summer 1911. I have always thought that, in response to the Sherlock Holmes pilgrimages to Switzerland that the Sherlock Holmes Society of London carried out in 1968, 1978, 1987, 1988, 1991, 2005 and 2012, Doyleans could organize a remake of this Prince Henry Tour that started in Bad Homburg, went all the way up to Edinburgh and ended in London. Being a classic car enthusiast, I would of course opt for classic cars, too!More importantly probably and in response to your latest Doings of Doyle is what I think the fact that a possible "model" for Von Bork was in fact Doyle's German fellow racer, Graf Carmer. I developed this theory in an article "Who was Von Bork?" published in the Sherlock Holmes Journal in summer 2014.
    Keeping doing your doings!
    Best wishes, Marcus Geisser, London

    1. An excellent theory - I recall the article well! Best wishes, Marcus.

  2. Another case of a well chosen character's name by ACD - some are subtle but others are more obvious as is the case in point with this 'warning' story... When I first read this some 35 odd years ago I always thought that the Danger of the title tied in with the name Sirius! In other words any future submarine warfare posed a SERIOUS / Sirius threat to England! ACD loved a play on words...

    1. Very good point! A bit of nominative determinism at play...


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