In Chapter 8 of her first detective novel, Whose Body of 1923, Dorothy Sayers gives the Who's Who entry of a Grand Doctor called Sir Julian Freke. We learn, by implication, that he was honoured for immediate personal services to the Royal House: his knighthood in the Victorian Order was upped to a Knighthood Grand Cross in the same Order. He was also a Knight Commander of the Bath; a Knight of Grace of the order of S John of Jerusalem; he was a Colonel in the Army Medical Service. Lord Dawson (vide earlier posts) duplicated these honours.
It is not my claim that Freke is a simplistic transposition of Dawson into novelese. I suspect, rather, that Sayers may have browsed through her copy of Who's Who, boning up on all the 'Grand Doctor' entries. And I also believe that Sayers deliberately situated Freke in the intellectual milieu inhabited by such people in the decade which gave us Eugenics and Euthanasia and Contraception. Just as Dawson saw himself as being a very superior person, superior, indeed, to moral scruples which might inhibit ordinary men, so Freke believed that the Conscience was an epiphenomenon in principle medically removable.
And just as Dawson killed the King because Doctor Knows Best, so Freke killed Levy for his own personal satisfaction. I very much doubt if Sayers knew the circumstances of King George's death; my suggestion is that she was a very bright woman who discerned the causes and effects of social and philosophical tendencies, and was capable of guessing right without even realising she was doing so. One reason I find her writing so absorbing is the light she throws upon Interbellum preoccupations; Spiritualism ... Lesbianism ... Advertising ... the Drugs scene ... the Red Menace ... She did it again with her final, unfinished detective novel Thrones, Dominations: I have long wondered if she gave up the writing of it because she realised that the sado-masochistic situations her characters were playing out ran parallel to the relationship between Edward VIII and Simpson, which was beginning to enter into the public domain.
Incidentally, it was only six days after that debate in the House of Lords about 'The Nation's Physique' that Baldwin had the Audience with his monarch which ensured that Britain did not enter a war with Germany under a pro-German King.
It irritates me when I read of Sayers lumped together with whodunnit writers as one of the greats of the 'Golden Age' of Detective Fiction. She was something totally different who used the genre as a convenience: which is why, as people soon notice, it is often quite obvious Who Did It. She was an avant garde writer who cheerfully brings in prostitutes and gigolos and foreskins (or the lack of them); the sexuality of old women and old men and plain girls; and kitten-faced young ladies with an inviting manner and a shrewd eye, who put their plump elbows on the table, cock their heads at a coy angle, and prepare to sell their honour dear, not indifferent to the possibility of a flat in Paris, a Daimler car, mink, and a thousand-pound necklace.
It is a pity that the prudish Patton Walsh took it upon herself to suppress the account of Wimsey's 'sexual initiation' in Paris.
A typical Third Millennium genre-error, and a sign of the New Prudery.
Was Sayers an anti-semite? I shall deal with that in the next day or two.