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The Sherlock Holmes Journal, Summer 2020
The Sherlock Holmes Journalis published twice a year, usually in June and December.
It is the official voice of the Society and contains its transactions, news and reviews, letters and editorial notes. It is also home to the most erudite scholarship, publishing learned articles from Holmesians world-wide who have something to say on any aspect of Sherlock Holmes and his world. It has been appearing without a break since the first issue in May 1952.
Guest Editorial: “The Best and Wisest Woman I Ever Knew” by Jonathan McCafferty Our President remembers Freda Howlett, who died on the 15th February. Freda was the last of the “Famous Five” who founded the Sherlock Holmes Society of London in 1951. She served as the 6th President from 2003 to 2009, and in January this year she was invested into the Baker Street Irregulars, at the age of 101.
Editorial Notes * In the New Year Honours, our indefatigable Meetings Secretary Catherine Cooke received the British Empire Medal for services to Libraries. At the Annual Dinner in January, the Tony Howlett Award for outstanding service to the Society was presented to Judi Ellis. At the Baker Street Irregulars’ Dinner in New York, eight new BSIs were invested, Andrew G Fusco received the Two Shilling Award, and Michael Whelan stood down as “Wiggins”, handing the gavel over to Michael H Kean.
* On the 5th December, London’s latest luxury hotel opened at 3-5 Great Scotland Yard, at the original headquarters of the Metropolitan Police.
* Before the BSI’s Annual Dinner, thirteen scholarly enthusiasts met at New York Public Library to discuss the formation of a new Arthur Conan Doyle society.
* Although Jim French died in 2017, his Seattle-based company Imagination Theatre continues to create and record radio drama, notably The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, whose principal writer is our own Matthew J Elliott.
* In March the old Custom House in Belfast was put up for sale. The post office it once housed may have been the one where Jim Browner posted his gruesome packet. (Thanks to Oscar Ross for the information.)
* Congratulations to Aleš Kolodrubec and the Czech Society of Sherlock Holmes, who celebrated their twentieth anniversary in January.
* Mark Chellew, President of The Sherlock Holmes Society of South Australia, has created the very funny but curiously practical Sherlock Holmes Coronavirus Survival Guide, and Philip Cornell, Vice-President of The Sydney Passengers, provides a witty cartoon of the self-isolating Sherlockian.
“Sherlock Holmes and the Law” by Vincent Delay The Curator of the Sherlock Holmes Museum, Lucens, and President of the Société d’études holmésiennes de la Suisse romande, applies his legal expertise to an examination of the canon.
“Conan Doyle and the Postcard Connection” by Sarah Obermuller-Bennett The author of the Society’s recent book A Study in Postcards looks at one of the most successful companies that published them – Raphael Tuck & Co, of which Arthur Conan Doyle was a director.
“Holmes & Watson, Their Religion and Philosophy” by John Sheppard Dr Watson gives little away about his own beliefs, but it is possible to deduce certain facts and probabilities about Holmes’s religious and philosophical views.
“Another Morley Introduction” by Michael H Kean The new head of the Baker Street Irregulars considers a little-known essay by the BSI’s founder, Christopher Morley: his preface to Literary England: Photographs of Places Made Memorable in English Literature, published in 1944.
“The Significance of Alternatives: Sherlock Holmes and the Tantalus” by Sonia Fetherston The tantalus in his cabin proves vitally important in identifying Peter Carey’s murderer. More accurately, it’s the contents of the decanters in that lockable spirit-case that are important. (Surprisingly, this is the only use of the name “tantalus” in the entire canon.)
“An Analysis of the Manuscripts Presented as Plot Points in ‘The Musgrave Ritual’ and The Hound of the Baskervilles” by Robin Rowles The author of The Civil War in London examines the documents at the heart of two stories, both originating in the mid-17th century, the time of the English Civil Wars, although the legend of the Hound was written down a century later.
“baskerville.com” by Roger Bird 21st century technology enables Holmes to solve the case of the Baskerville Hound without leaving 221B!
“Grand Old Detective” A newspaper article from 1904, describing how William Ewart Gladstone applied the methods of Sherlock Holmes.
“It Seems to Me…” by Auberon Redfearn Dr Redfearn’s latest venture is headed “Sherlockdown”, and it’s illustrated with a couple of pictures from Mark Chellew’s Sherlock Holmes Coronavirus Survival Guide. Enough said?
“Annual Film Evening: ‘A Pawky Sense of Humour'” The Great Detective has been the subject of comedy on screen since Sherlock Holmes Baffled in 1903. On the 15th November Matthew Elliott presented a 1932 Czech film, Lelicek in the Services of Sherlock Holmes, and the 1945 Rathbone classic The Woman in Green, given the irreverent RiffTrax treatment.
Tweedy and the Missing Company of Sherlock Holmes reviewed by Nicholas Utechin “… seventy excellent minutes of hugely energetic and farcical slapstick in the company of classic clown Tweedy. The circus-trained artist and his Watson, Tom Bayliss, exhausted us and themselves in an expert version of The Hound of the Baskervilles …”
Sherlock Holmes and the Warlock of Whitechapel reviewed by Roger Johnson The third gloriously zany comedy written by Julian Harries, who also plays Holmes, and Patricia Whymark, who also provides the songs. “Someone is stealing ancient artefacts from public and private museums. Is the culprit a megalomaniac occultist or just an unscrupulous antiquarian? And what has it to do with the mysterious goings-on at a seedy East End Music Hall?”
“The Valley of Cheer” The Guest of Honour at the Annual Dinner at the House of Commons was Val McDermid, one of today’s outstanding writers of crime fiction and crime fact. The second speaker was Nick Utechin, and as it was his birthday, Val serenaded him after the manner of Marilyn Monroe!
“Freda Howlett, 3rd September 1918 – 15th February 2020” Memories of our last Founder-Member. Right from the beginning, Freda’s inspiration, encouragement, dedication and practical commonsense were essential to the Society as a whole. Many of us as individuals have reason to be grateful for her hospitality and generosity. Like her husband Tony, she had the gift of friendship, and we are the better for having known her.
“It Is With a Heavy Heart…” Obituaries by Jean Upton and Roger Johnson Others we have lost include our distinguished Japanese member Mikio Kawamura, who founded and sponsored the Tony & Freda Howlett Literary Award; Bob Thomalen, an authoritative and congenial presence in the BSI; our former member Norman Nathan; cartoonist and writer Gahan Wilson; actors Nicky Henson, Claudine Auger and Tony Britton; and actor-writer-comedians Roy Hudd and Tim-Brooke-Taylor.
“I Am an Omnivorous Reader” Book reviews by Matthew J Elliott, Mark Mower, Jean Upton, Nicholas Utechin and Roger Johnson.
Wigmore Street Postbag Letters to The Sherlock Holmes Journal