At the recent Annual General Meeting, the Chairman announced that no fewer than three of our most distinguished members have been awarded the Society’s highest and rarest honour.
PETER E. BLAU has been a member of the Society since 1966 and this year celebrated his 88th birthday. If ever the words ‘specially distinguished’ – as designated for Honorary Membership – needed a living exemplar, Peter is that person. He bestrides the Holmesian community like a titan: over his six decades playing ‘the Grand Game’ (Peter’s own original phrase), he has met, welcomed and advised generations of Sherlockians. As a walking encyclopaedia of everyone and everything in our world, he is the most erudite and generous of helpers – able to answer the most abstruse of questions almost by return of email.
In 1971, Peter started to keep a record of Sherlockian titbits of news and information to send to his great friend John Bennett Shaw. In the near half-century since, that record has become an invaluable monthly listing of Sherlockiana under the title Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press; anyone who does not know of this essential aid to our hobby should immediately seek it out. He is, incidentally, miles ahead of many of his juniors in embracing new technologies.
The Sherlock Holmes Society of London has always espoused the quartering of the Union Jack with the Stars and Stripes, and it is with the greatest of pleasure, and in admiration of his achievements, that we welcome Peter E. Blau to the short but rather illustrious list of Americans who have been made Honorary Members: Christopher Morley, Vincent Starrett, Edgar W. Smith, Jay Finley Christ and Julian Wolff.
MICHAEL COX joined the Society in 1984, the year in which he launched the internationally acclaimed Sherlock Holmes series on Granada TV. It was his project from the start. He chose Jeremy Brett to play Holmes, and recruited the other principal actors. He had the wonderful Baker Street set built. He insisted on the fidelity to the original stories that was such a feature of the series – at least until the television types who ran Granada were replaced by money men. And he stood down temporarily from his post as head of drama in order to produce The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, after which he acted as executive producer, returning as producer of the Casebook in 1991.
Michael was keen from the beginning to have the Society’s approval, inviting representatives to the press previews of the Adventures and the Return. In 1987 he arranged a private preview of The Sign of Four for the Society at the Granada Studios in Manchester. (There’s a photographic record of that memorable event, which included a tour of the Baker Street set and of the 221B interior set, on the Society’s Flickr gallery.) He was an excellent speaker at our 1989 Annual Dinner, and has been unfailingly supportive of the Society.
Almost from the founding of the Society, we have expressed our appreciation of those who present outstanding portrayals of the Great Detective. Arthur Wontner, Carleton Hobbs, Peter Cushing and Douglas Wilmer have all been Honorary Members. We are delighted that Michael Cox too has accepted Honorary Membership.