Further Thoughts on the Doc Savage Chronology

by Arthur C. Sippo MD, MPH

Doc Savage

Doc Savage

Editor's Note: Before reading Further Thoughts on the Doc Savage Chronology, the interested reader may find it useful to read The Doc Savage Chronology.

1869 - James Clarke Wilder is born as the illegitimate son of the Duke of Holdernesse (aka the 6th Duke of Greystoke) and Patricia Clarke Wilder.

1884 - James is physically and mentally precocious.  He is initially educated at Eton where he first meets and be friends the American Hubert Robertson who is also studying there.  Because of his illegitimacy, James was sent to America by his father to attend University.  He matriculated at Harvard University along with Robertson.  James studied both the hard sciences and business. While in America, he met several of his mother's relatives from Canada and the United States.  One distant cousin was Richard Henry Savage.  The older man became a mentor to young James and they often traveled together posing as father and son.  Wilder assumed the pseudonym "Clark Savage" during these trips. 

During this time, he also became acquainted with the extended eugenics program of the Howard Foundation, which has been documented by Robert Heinlein in his Lazarus Long stories.  The Wilder family in America was part of the program and as both a Wilder and a descendent of the notorious William Cecil Clayton, James Wilder qualified for participation.  He was reticent about becoming involved with them but his curiosity was piqued and he decided to study medicine in order to better understand human longevity.  One of the people he met in the Howard Foundation was a young German physician, Gunter Asch who had come to America to study the Howard breeding program.

1888 - Wilder was accepted into the Johns Hopkins Medical School.  In his 3rd year, he became aware of his father's serious financial problems when his tuition was not paid.  James left school and went to Canada to supervise his father's holdings there in the hopes of reversing the family's fortunes.

1895 - James Wilder disappeared and his father, the Duke, came to Canada in order to find him.  One of the people assisting him was Ned Land.  These events are documented in Ian Cameron's novel "The Lost Ones."  The book claimed that the story occurred in 1958.  This is actually an anagram for 1895.  (This book was made into a movie by Disney called "The Island at the top of the World" which returned the story to its actual historical setting while taking serious liberties with the events from the book.) 

During their escape from the Viking-Eskimo tribe, the native girl that Wilder had fallen in love with died and he blamed his father for her death.  A disgruntled James Wilder went home with Ned Land to recover and met Land's granddaughter Arronaxe Larsen, the daughter of Wolf Larsen.  She was a naturalized American citizen because her father had been an American citizen and she had been born on American soil.  It turned out that she also met the criteria of the Howard Foundation.  The two were married just prior to Wilder's return to England. 

1895-1901 - James Wilder had a knack for business and was able to turn a significant profit from his father's Canadian enterprises.  He invested heavily in mining, fishing, whaling, and fur trading.  He returned to England triumphant in that he had saved the family fortune.  He hoped that this would lead his father to acknowledge him as his firstborn and heir.  But because of his illegitimacy the Duke could not acknowledge him in the Victorian climate of that time.  Wilder watched as his achievements became the legacy of his half-brother who was his father's only legitimate issue.  This led to the events related in "The Adventure of the Priory School" which occurred in mid-May 1901.  At the end of that story, Wilder allegedly goes to Australia, but in reality he and his wife go to Paris, France and secretly meet with James’ friend Hubert Robertson who is a Zoologist who had just finished a lecture series at the Collège de France.  James has brought with him a map that Ned Land had given him which contains the location of sunken treasures which had been discovered by Captain Nemo in the Nautilus.  They plan to leave France with Roberson to search for some of this treasure.  It is at this point that Arronaxe confirms that she is three months pregnant.  No one else is aware of this pregnancy.  The couple were pursued by the British and French authorities but their trail went cold in Marseilles in the first week of June.  At that point they disappeared and no trace could be found of them.  Meanwhile Hubert Robertson outfitted his American registered schooner The Orion for a trip the Caribbean.  He arranges to bring along Dr. Gunter Asch, who had returned to Europe and opened a special sanitarium in Switzerland to study genetic defects.  Many members of European nobility send their children there for the treatment of inherited diseases.  Many of these children become permanent residents to avoid the scandal that their congenital deformities might cause for their parents.

1901 - James Wilder and Hubert Robertson discovered a treasure off Andros Island in the Bahamas.  His son Clark was born on the schooner Orion, on 12 November 1902.  He had been delivered by James and Dr. Asch.  Arronaxe died shortly thereafter.  Wracked with guilt over everything that has happened and influenced by Dr. Asch and his theories about human development, James committed his son to a program of education and physical training intended to make him a virtual superman who would fight against evil in all of its forms.

1902 - Wilder came to the United States posing as Clark Savage.  With the help of Richard Henry Savage, Ned Land, and his Canadian uncle Alexander Wilder, Clark Sr. used his earnings from the treasure expedition to establish himself in New York as a stock investor.  Clark Sr. filed his son’s birth with American authorities as having occurred at sea on 25 May 1902 to help confuse anyone searching for him.  It was very clear that Arronaxe Wilder could not have borne a child in May, 1902.  No one knew she was pregnant at the time and she and her husband were actively evading the police.  Young Clark Jr. was developmentally advanced and could pass for an older child so the subterfuge worked.  Meanwhile Clark Sr. elected to have his son become part of the Howard Foundation program.  He gave the Foundation a correct account of his son’s birth.  Clark Sr. met and married a Howard family socialite, Brenna ______.  She had eloped a few years earlier with a non-Howard paramour, but her parents had had the marriage annulled.  Brenna would become the only mother that Clark Jr. would ever know.  She would never conceive any children herself.  It seems that Clark Sr. had similar fertility problems to those that plagued Tarzan.

1903 - Richard Henry Savage was run over by a wagon in Utica, New York on October 3, 1903 and died in the hospital eight days later.  He was 57 years old.  His dying wish was that his 'son' be reconciled with his real father.  Clark Savage engaged the services of immigrant attorney Samuel Cantor.  Cantor contacted the Duke of Holdernesse and discovered that the Duke had already interceded with the authorities to have all the criminal charges against his son dismissed.  The Duke had been searching for his son, but the trail had gone cold in the Caribbean.   He did not know that his son's wife was pregnant and he had been searching for a married couple, not a father and child.  The Duke had already ceded a controlling interest in one of his Canadian mining companies to his son along with the ownership of some tracts of land and several commercial leases for mineral rights.  Included in this was ownership of the island where the Viking-Eskimos lived.  (This would later become the site of the Fortress of Solitude.)  His intention was to give his son a reasonable income while retaining family control over the larger portion of the Canadian holdings for his legitimate heir.  Unbeknownst to the Duke, the company holdings that he had ceded were rich in oil and Clark became a multimillionaire virtually overnight during the oil boom in the early 1900s.

1904 - Clark Sr. returned to Johns Hopkins to finish his medical degree and did some post-graduate training in Neurosurgery.  He developed a taste for big game hunting and traveled around the world looking for sport.  On one of his trips to Africa, he met and befriended Hareton Ironcastle, a French adventurer.

1908 - On the ill fated trip to Siberia, Brenna Savage is killed.   Prior to this trip, Clark Sr. had had a falling out with Dr. Asch who no longer participated in Clark Jr.’s training.

1909 - A distraught Clark Sr. traveled to Europe to forget his recent loss while leaving his son in the care of his teachers.  While in Spain, he discovered a lost Mayan Codex describing the location of a hidden city protected by 'dragons.'  In 1903, Professor Edward Challenger had mounted an expedition where he claimed to have found living dinosaurs in South America.  Clark Sr. wondered if the 'dragons' mentioned in the codex might also be prehistoric monsters.  He went on an expedition to find the city and its 'dragon' guardians.  This story was told in A. Hyatt Verill's novel "The Bridge of Light" published in 1929.  It is the gold from this lost city that he bequeathed to his son Clark for his 30th birthday.  There are several mysteries about this Mayan city that are revealed in Verrill's story but are not mentioned in "The Man of Bronze" or "The Golden Peril." 

The original High Mayan culture had died out in the 1200s.  A large Mayan settlement could not have remained hidden for that long, especially with the Conquistadors investigating every legend about hidden cities of gold.  In "The Man of Bronze" Johnny indicated that the settlement had only been there since the 1600s.  This means that it had to have been founded after the more aggressive explorations of the Spanish were over.  The Mayan colony was a late resurgence of the Mayan lifestyle unknown to the outside world.  In Verill's story there was a centuries old sorcerer who befriended and helped Clark Sr.  He may have been the instigator of the resurgence.  The whole story of The Valley of the Vanished has yet to be told.

1911 - Clark Sr. returned to America with his beautiful Mayan wife, Itza.  She was never really a "mother" to Clark Jr.  In fact he had very little contact with her.  After his father's return, Clark's education began to include extensive Meso-American studies and he was taught several native dialects from that region.  Though he was curious about his new stepmother, all Clark Jr. ever learned was that she was well born and of pure Mayan stock.  He was eventually able to converse with her in her own Mayan dialect but she was evasive about her homeland and his father discouraged any such discussions.

The elder Savage was obviously concealing something, but Clark respected his father's privacy.  Clark would always have a blind spot when it came to his father.  He would never use his deductive powers to pry into matters that his father was trying to hide from him.  He suspected that this marriage somehow cemented a "deal" which brought his father certain monetary advantages.  What surprised him is that there was no obvious benefit that he could discern.  Clark Jr. concluded that this represented a long term investment and put it out of his mind.  His father had several of these.

Shortly after his return, Clark Sr. would form several holding companies for overseas investments including the Hidalgo Trading Company.  His son would not be privy to any details of his father's business empire until his 21st birthday when his father turned over control of some of these enterprises to him.  At that time, the Hidalgo Trading Company was a small private company owned solely by Clark Sr. with most of its assets held overseas.  He used this company to purchase real estate and a variety of vehicles including small ships and aircraft.  It was supposed to remain in Clark Sr.'s possession until Clark Jr.'s 30th birthday when (unbeknownst to the younger Savage) the company by-laws required that he take over control.

Itza would never conceive any children by Clark Sr. and would die on the ill-fated Maple White Land expedition later in that decade.

Clark Sr. had read the accounts of Challenger's expedition and he decided that he would go to Maple White Land himself.  He teamed up with French adventurer Hareton Ironcastle to plan an elaborate safari to bring back specimens for study. The elephant guns used by Challenger's expedition had not been powerful enough to kill dinosaurs and so Clark Sr. and Ironcastle designed their own weapons.  Ironcastle's was an airgun that fired an electrically charged round that could paralyze a dinosaur from up to a mile away.  Clark Sr. worked with 2 expatriate German gunsmiths to develop a heavy bore dinosaur rifle.  It used a .50-caliber shell and had a maximum effective range of over 2 miles.  He patented the design of both the rifle and the projectiles in America and overseas.  To help finance the expedition, he planned to sell commemorative "Dinosaur Rifles" to collectors around the world at an exorbitant mark-up.  The hunting community did not take his rifle seriously.  It was too powerful to be used even on elephants and was considered purely a luxury collector's item. 

The plans for marketing these rifles fell through when the Great War broke out and no one was wasting money on impractical souvenirs.  Only six of the top-of-the-line weapons were ever made and these were later used on the expedition.  After the war had started, armored vehicles and tanks were introduced onto the battlefield and both sides started looking for an effective line-of-sight weapon to counter this threat.  The Dinosaur Rifle design was re-marketed in a cheaper mass-market version as an anti-tank rifle.  The American-made rifles were sold to both sides and several foreign companies purchased the manufacturing rights for the weapon and its shells.  Clark Sr. made another fortune.  This weapon and its designs would be used well after World War II and were a continuing source of income for Doc.  Because of their innovative designs, both Clark Sr. and Ironcastle were inducted into the Baltimore Gun Club.  It was one of these six original Dinosaur Rifles, NOT an elephant gun that was used at the attempted assassination of Clark Jr. in the beginning of "The Man of Bronze."  For some undisclosed reason, Dent tried to cover this up. 

1919-1934 Clark Jr. would attend the Harvard, MIT, Miskatonic, and Johns Hopkins Universities.  According to P. J. Farmer, Doc would receive his medical degree from Hopkins in 1926.  He would meet the educational requirements for a total of ten doctoral degrees and be awarded one honorary degree: 
MD (Medicine, Hopkins)
JD (Law, Harvard) - Admitted to NY Bar in 1931
PsyD (Psychology, Miskatonic)
PhD, DEA (Physical Science, Collège de France)
PhD (Physical Chemistry, Hopkins)
ScD (Engineering, MIT)
DBA (Business Administration, Harvard)
DPH (Public Health, Hopkins)
DMA (Muscicology, Harvard)
EdD (Education/Linguistics, Miskatonic)
DSci (Geology/Paleontology, Miskatonic)

LHD (Doctorate of Humane Letters, Miskatonic) - Honorary

During this same time period, Clark Jr. was awarded further professional degrees after a
short course of study in these fields:
DO (Osteopathic Medicine, Kirksville)
DC (Chiropractic, Palmer College of Chiropractic)
DDS (Dentistry, Harvard)

{Clark Jr. also did post graduate training in Neurology and Neurosurgery at Harvard and Miskatonic.}

Between 1934 and 1965, he would earn further doctoral degrees:

ThD (Theology, Harvard)
PhD (Philosophy, Notre Dame)
LLD (International Law, Georgetown)
DLitt (English Literature, Oxford)
PhD (World History, Cambridge)
PhD (Physics, Princeton IAS)
PhD (MesoAmerican Archaeology, Harvard)
PhD (Biochemistry, Columbia)
PhD (Comparative Biology, Yale)
DCA (Culinary Arts, NYU) - A personal goal Clark Jr. set for himself.

1922 - Clark Sr. was named to the chair in Neurosurgery at Miskatonic Medical School.  It was here that he did the groundbreaking work on human brain mapping that would allow him to modify memory and behavior.  In Miskatonic's Psychology Department, Professor Folger Crofton proposed a radical new treatment protocol for criminal behavior involving intensive psychotherapy, operant conditioning, and the use of psychoactive drugs.  His peers rejected this therapeutic approach as "tampering with nature" and he was pressured into leaving the university.  Clark Sr. recognized that he and Dr. Crofton had similar ideas and commitments.  When Crofton left Miskatonic in 1924, Clark Sr. recruited him on a project to rid the world of criminal behavior.  They bought the old Rye Sanitarium in Rye, New York which had cared for the mentally ill members from the wealthy families of the American Northeast and renamed it the Folger Crofton Sanitarium, which would specialize in the treatment of the criminally insane.  Secretly, the sanitarium was also used to rehabilitate criminals using Dr. Crofton's revolutionary techniques and to screen candidates for more radical neurosurgical treatments.  Selected candidates were treated surgically by Clark Sr. with surprising success. 

In 1928, construction began on a larger facility in upstate New York, which was to be called Holdernesse College.  This would include a neurosurgical hospital, a large rehabilitation facility, and educational resources for re-training the "graduates" to earn an honest living.  Candidates were first screened at the sanitarium to see if they were good subjects for the rehab program at Holdernesse.  Those who were not selected were either treated at the sanitarium and released, referred to other treatment facilities, or turned over to the authorities.  Dr. Crofton supervised both the initial selection process and the rehabilitation efforts at the College.  He was the master psychologist mentioned in "The Land of Terror" as running Doc's criminal treatment program. 

Eventually, Holdernesse College would become a vocational school and provide associate and bachelor’s degrees in various disciplines.  It would also be the initial training center for the employees of Doc Savage's far flung organization.  Selected "graduates" of the College's special rehabilitation program would become the backbone of the International Detective Agency, which eventually supported Doc and his men in the field.

In 1930, the College became fully operational and Clark Sr. was named as its first dean.  Money was tight around this time because of the stock market crash and Clark Sr. had a cash flow problem.  He was simultaneously building the Empire State Building and Holdernesse College.  He was forced to borrow $250,000 from some New York mobsters in order to keep the college project on track.  This was documented in the Millennium Comics series “The Devil’s Thoughts.”

Clark Sr. had a mansion built on the college grounds that he named Wilder Hall.  It was his primary residence.  By this time he had hired a personal valet, Matthews, who would attend him until his death in 1931.  After that, Matthews would travel to New York City and run a secret three-story apartment in the Empire State Building for Clark Jr. as documented in the Marvel Comic series.  This was where Doc actually lived while in New York City.  It was not contiguous with the headquarters we know from Dent's books, but was connected to it by a secret elevator.  The apartment was sufficiently large to accommodate Doc and his men along with several guests if need be.

There were several other facilities in the ESB owned by Doc.  The occupancy of the building rarely reached 30% in that first decade and there was plenty of room to hide offices throughout the building.  We know that Doc had underground garages and offices on the first 5 floors which dealt with security, correspondence, government liaison, information gathering, and other mundane activities.  He also rented at least the floors above and below the headquarters to keep people from spying on him.  We can assume that these floors were honeycombed with secret passages and storage areas.

The headquarters floor was not the 86th floor since one elevator ride from the ground floor could reach it.  Elevators even today can only ascend 80 floors because of the weight restraints placed on their support cables.  Most likely, the 86th floor was an anagram for the 68th floor.  This would place the headquarters in the large central portion of the ESB with a cross sectional area of 15,950 square feet.  It would also be 4 stories down from the ledge on the 72nd floor.  This location would help to explain why the sniper from "The Man of Bronze" was able to see into the headquarters from a perch on the Chrysler building.



Further Thoughts on the Doc Savage Chronology was created for the sole purposes of entertainment and information. All rights reserved. The text of this page is © 2003-2008 by the author, Arthur C. Sippo. The design of this page is © 1997-2008 by Win Eckert. No copying or reproduction of this article or any portions thereof in any form whatsoever is permitted without prior written permission and consent of the author.