Find out what's going on in the world of Sherlock Holmes, including pop culture, Sherlock Holmes societies around the world, and a reflection on how this great character has inspired generations of dedicated literary and non-literary types. Quick, Watson! Subscribe!
When a figure like Sherlock Holmes has been around for over a century, there are bound to be misconceptions that creep into public thinking. We blame this not on carelessness or laziness but rather on the overwhelming popularity of the great detective.
The image of Holmes clad in deerstalker and Inverness cape, clenching a Meerschaum pipe in his teeth is the universal, if cliched, image of a detective. But was it true?
We were recently reminded of a number of classic myths about Sherlock Holmes, thanks to a contest being sponsored by The Baker Street Journal (also a sponsor of our program): it has long been rumored that men wore black armbands throughout the city of London after reading "The Final Problem" in the Strand Magazine. And only anecdotal evidence has been referenced whenever this supposed fact is brought up. The BSJ is offering a free year's subscription to anyone who can definitively prove that such mourning attire was worn in response to the death of Sherlock Holmes.
That got us to thinking: what other Sherlockian myths are there? And are we guilty of propagating any of them ourselves? Join us for a quick game show-style question and answer session on the topic, as well as a reading of your comments from our last show and some recent news from the world of Sherlock Holmes.
The Editor's Gas-Lamp: Rather than the traditional gas-lamp, which began under Edgar Smith's editorship of the Baker Street Journal, we thought we would mark May 5 as the 123rd anniversary of Christopher Morley's birth by reading two of his poems: the very short "The Secret" and the quite remarkable "Toulemonde."
We thought we'd stir up the discussions a bit and try to get to the bottom of a couple of controversies that have been roiling the world of Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts (we're careful to say neither "fans" nor "devotees" at this juncture).
The first item of interest that grabbed our attention in early 2013 was the so-called "Free Sherlock" movement. Summed up, this is basically an issue that is being brought to court via a case titled Klinger vs. Conan Doyle Estate, in which Leslie Klinger, BSI ("The Abbey Grange") is contesting the Conan Doyle Estate's claim that any new content that contains Sherlock Holmes must pay a royalty or license fee to the Estate. Burt and Scott parse through some of the non-technical/legal aspects of the case and discuss what's at stake.
Speaking of being at stake, the other item on the docket is the debate as to what in fact constitutes a Sherlockian of good standing? That is, can one have arrived at the doorstep of 221B Baker Street via the BBC series (or Granada, or Universal, etc.) or must one have been schooled only in the printed literature and dress the part of a 1940s joiner? It's quite a debate - one that was taken up vehemently by The Baker Street Babes earlier this year, after the "Elite Devotee Redux" was published in recently resurrected Saturday Review of Literature. We offer our own humble observations on the matter.
For those who wish to subscribe to the publication and read all of the very interesting articles therein, you may procure a copy by sending $5 postpaid to Donald K. Pollock, 521 College Avenue, Niagara Falls, NY 14305. An image of the cover and inside cover can be seen below.
The Editor's Gas-Lamp: We purposefully revisited the same Gas-Lamp (Vol. 3, No. 2, OS) that we shared on Episode 15, because Edgar Smith's "Who is a Baker Street Irregular?" seemed to strike the same chord some 65 years later.
Our 50th episode is a fitting one. As you know, a 50th anniversary is typically celebrated with gold. Because we appreciate our listeners so much, we would settle for nothing less than the same.
But our gold comes in the form of a scintillating conversation with the two editors of the Baker Street Irregulars' eighth entry in their Manuscript Series, The Wrong Passage, which is a look at the manuscript of "The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez." Co-editors Andrew Solberg, BSI ("Professor Coram") and Robert Katz, MD, BSI ("Dr. Ainstree") joined us to discuss just what it is that goes into creating a significant piece of scholarship such as we've come to expect from BSI publications of late.
From the history of the manuscript itself, to artifacts from Paul Churchill's famed "evidence boxes," to an in-depth look at the historical background alluded to in the tale, the breadth of topics within the book is impressive. Also included are a number of other analyses on topics ranging from the historical and geographical to the linguistic, religious and medical, by noted Sherlockians Peggy Perdue, BSI ("Violet Westbury"), Denny Dobry, Donald Pollock, MD, BSI ("The Anthropological Journal") former member of the BSI, Albert Silverstein, BSI ("Professor Presbury"), C. Paul Martin, MD, BSI ("Dr. Leslie Armstrong"), Jacquelynn Morris, Richard J. Sveum, MD, BSI ("Dr. Hill Barton"), John Baesch, BSI ("The State and Merton County Railroad"), and William Hyder, BSI ("A Most Valuable Institution").
Our discussions range as far and wide as the book itself, and we also cover just a bit of the BSI Weekend festivities from 2013. But more on that in a future episode. This one clocked in at over an hour and 20 minutes, but we think you'll enjoy the conviviality between four Sherlockians as you spend a long evening with Holmes.
The Editor's Gas-Lamp: We thought it was fitting to focus on 50th anniversaries, so we took a page from the 50th anniversary year of the Baker Street Journal and read the Editor's Gas-Lamp of Vol. 46, No. 4 from December 1996, with Donald ("I'm not a member of the BSI") Pollock as editor.
"Compliments of the season" is how Watson described his activities regarding a visit he paid to Holmes during the Christmas season.
And we know "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" as the sole Christmas story in the Canon of Sherlock Holmes stories. And rather than focus on the nostalgic and its place in the lineup of winter classics, we discuss how this classic fits in the pantheon of Holmes stories in its own right as a tale of friendship, crime, discovery and what we've come to realize as some of the typical Baker Street scenes.
In an effort to pay homage to this Christmas classic, the Baker Street Irregulars in 1948 crafted a special edition of "The Blue Carbuncle" that included a wonderful essay by Christopher Morley titled "A Christmas Story Without Slush." About BLUE, Morley said, "it was superb art. It hasn't a word too many or two few." That essay itself has become something of a classic as well, and we're delighted to share it with our listeners here.
After Burt inhabits the person of Morley for our reading, we come to a rather alarming and satisfying conclusion. We would be interested to hear if you share our assessment.
We go on to express admiration for the dramatized versions of the story - particularly by Jeremy Brett and David Burke for Granada and Peter Cushing and Nigel Stock for the BBC. We even invent our own version of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with one of the actors who appeared in each.
As part of the holiday season, we also offered up our own - rather eclectic - list of gift ideas and sites where you might find the same. Herewith, the gift giving guide for Sherlockians (or perhaps those from the Steampunk crowd as well) during the holiday season: