A look at some of the familiar, and the more rare, images of Vincent Starrett from various publications of the 1920s, when Starrett was in his late 30s and early 40s.
There are a lot of photographs of Vincent Starrett, so we have a good sense of what he looked like from young adulthood to old age. Most of the images on this page have been reprinted, but a few are uncommon.
Starrett had a pretty good idea of his own self image. Here's how he saw himself as told in verse:
by Vincent Starrett
A faintly Jewish, somewhat Spanish visage:
Nose nearly Roman, Hairless lip and jowl,
And shaggy thatch; eyes that incline to prowl
Behind horn spectacles, in gentle quizzage,
Tall, but of proudly curing appetite,
Garments that hang like some grotesque conceit;
Abstracted manner, save when inward heat
Gives off in stream of talk, late in the night.
Kindly, indeed, except when roused to rages,
Soothed by tobacco and by skillful cooks;
Fond of the gallant company of books
and villains of all languages and ages,
Withal, a decent chap, who likes the ladies
And daily paves a goodish stretch of hades.
These images come from the 1920s, when Starrett was at the height of his powers as a writer. Although known largely for his mysteries and book reviews, Starrett desperately wanted to be known as one of the nation's great romantic poets.
One of the best known photos from this period was the "dying poet" photograph. Dated to 1924, the picture certainly matches Starrett's hopes of becoming a famous poet. The photograph appears to have been a favorite of his. It was used as the artist portrait for the dust jacket of his mystery novel The End of Mr. Garment, among other places.
When the picture was reprinted many years later in The Last Bookman, Starrett had this to say about the photograph:
Here I look like a dying poet. Dying poets have a habit of becoming famous, but somehow I have defied that tradition.
Finally, two sketches of Starrett, done by Gene Markey, a writer, producer and artist popular in the flapper era in Chicago. Markey's sketches were published in two books: Literary Lights: A Book of Caricatures, published in 1923 by Alfred A Knopf of New York; and Men About Town: A Book of 58 Caricatures, published in 1924 by Covici-McGee Co. of Chicago.