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The Sherlock Holmes Journal, Summer 2021
The Sherlock Holmes Journal is 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.
Editorial: “The Days of Our Years Are Threescore Years and Ten” * Even in these strange times there is cause for celebration: the Society is 70 years old! (Or 70 years young if you prefer.)
Editorial Notes: * Correcting an error in the previous issue – “Dear me, Mr Holmes! Dear me!” * This year’s recipient of the Tony Howlett Award for outstanding service to the Society is Elaine McCafferty. * Our Sherlockian postcard specialist, Sarah Obermuller-Bennett, has come across a rather saucy example! * Paul Thomas Miller has created a potentially invaluable “Chapter & Verse Edition” of the Sherlock Holmes canon, freely accessible athttps://chapterandverseholmes.co.uk. * Baker Street in Middlesbrough boasts no fewer than three Holmes-themed pubs! * Was Conan Doyle inspired by Ambrose Bierce when he wrote of “the politician, the lighthouse and the trained cormorant”? * Is there photographic evidence that Arthur Conan Doyle played golf at the Royal Blackheath Golf Club? * The British Film Institute has begun a two-year complete restoration of the classic series of silent movies starring Eille Norwood as Sherlock Holmes.
“Sherlock Holmes and the Norfolk Connection” by Kelvin IJones * The phantom hound of Dartmoor was born in East Anglia!
“Why We Should Thank the Great ‘Russian Influenza’ Pandemic (1889-1894” by Michael Duke and Ross Philpot * Conan Doyle’s recovery from the deadly disease was a critical factor in his decision to abandon medicine for literature.
“The Curious Case of Brend, Roberts and Metcalfe: A Study in Serendipity” by Nicholas Utechin * A letter taped inside a copy of S.C. Roberts’s Doctor Watson helped Nick Utechin to fill a gap or two in the Society’s early history.
“Another Curious Case of Serendipity” by Roger Johnson * The lengthy inscription in another S.C. Roberts book raises more questions than answers about the original owner, an early member of the Society.
Three-Minute Problems: Papers presented at the Society’s first Online Meeting, 21st July 2020 (part 2) * What should have been the Spring Meeting, held as usual at the National Liberal Club, was conducted via Zoom. Thirteen speakers each gave a talk of no longer than three minutes. In this issue we present those by Bonnie MacBird, Zelia Young, Paul Askew, Richard Krisciunas and Auberon Redfearn.
Three-Minute Solutions by Nicholas Dunn-Meynell * Our regular columnist’s fantastic answers to the first batch of “Three Minute Problems”.
“It Seems to Me…” by Auberon Redfearn * The subtitle is “#WeAlso (Part II)”. Continued from last issue… Certain female clients claim the same accolade, in the form of the italicised definite article, as Irene Adler. Watson has researched their later histories.
The Irregulars reviewed by Alistair Duncan * The characters aren’t Conan Doyle’s, the history is skewed, the plots are fantastical, but it’s “honest in its dishonesty”, and our reviewer prefers it to Enola Holmes.
Transactions: * Zoom enabled the Society to carry on meeting during lockdown. The 16th Richard Lancelyn Green Memorial Lecture was given on the 15th October by Dr Andrew Blick, Reader in Politics and Contemporary History and Head of the Department of Political Economy at King’s College London, whose subject was “Advising Government: Fiction and Fact in United Kingdom History” — with special reference to Mycroft Holmes. * At the Annual General Meeting on the 13th November, the Chairman announced three new Honorary Members: Peter Blau, Secretary of the Baker Street Irregulars; Michael Cox, creator of the classic Sherlock Holmes TV series starring Jeremy Brett; and our former Chairman Robert Ellis. And the winner of the 2020 Tony & Freda Howlett Literary Award was Simon Smyth for his excellent article on “The Case of the Two Coptic Patriarchs”. * The AGM was followed by the Annual Film Evening, presented as always by Matthew J Elliott, whose choice of main feature was the 1933 A Study in Scarlet, starring Reginald Owen as Holmes. A canonical title, several canonical references, but an entirely apocryphal (though very entertaining) story. * At the meeting on the 18th March, we enjoyed three very different takes on “The Problematic Casebook of Sherlock Holmes”.PeggyPerdue spoke on “Dr Watson’s Genre Play: Elements of Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy in The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes“; in “The Case of the Casebook”, Alistair Duncan considered Conan Doyle’s reasons for writing the last dozen Holmes stories; and to round things off Paul Thomas Miller revealed “The Secret Message in ‘The Blanched Soldier'”, demonstrating that Sherlock Holmes was a prophet as well as a detective.
The Louche Lockdown Libation, or “Not the Annual Dinner”: * Whether or not food and drink actually featured on the 16th January was up to the individual, of course, but the event was no less impressive for being virtual. Leslie S Klinger, the Guest of Honour and one of the outstanding Holmes scholars, told us of his mixed delight and bafflement on first reading “The Blue Carbuncle” — delight because it’s such a good story; bafflement because so much of it was alien to a child in mid-20th century Chicago. “But I remember even now what struck me most. That was the depth and warmth of the friendship between Holmes and Watson.” The second speaker, Peter Horrocks, assured us, among other things, that Covid-19 was predicted by Professor Moriarty in The Pandemics of an Asteroid, but through it all John H Watson remained true to his friend and true to his remedy for all ailments: brandy. Good old Watson! * The post-prandial entertainment was a dramatisation by Bonnie MacBird of “The Blue Carbuncle”. Bonnie and her co-producers assembled a fine cast of British and American actors – or, rather, assembled their performances into a delightful whole, with original music by Ryan Thomas Johnson. As a finale, Holmes took the lead in an adaptation of the Major-General’s song from The Pirates of Penzance, to wit: “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major Super Sleuth”!
Michael Cox, 1934-2021 * Michael Cox joined our Society in 1984, the year in which the internationally acclaimed Granada Television series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was launched. It was his project from the start. He chose Jeremy Brett to play Holmes, and recruited the other principal actors. He had the Baker Street set built. In 1987 he arranged a private preview of The Sign of Four for us at the Granada Studios, with a tour of the Baker Street set and the 221B interior set. He was an excellent speaker at our 1989 Annual Dinner, and was unfailingly supportive of the Society. In November last year he was awarded Honorary Membership, the Society’s highest and rarest honour, and his wife told us that, although his health was rapidly declining, “becoming an Honorary Member gave him a huge amount of pleasure.”. Michael Cox died on the 29th January and is greatly missed.
“It Is With a Heavy Heart…” Obituaries by Nicholas Utechin, Jean Upton and Roger Johnson * Others who have passed beyond the Reichenbach include our members Tony Marshall, Anna Smyth and Jon Lellenberg; cricket-writer and Wodehouse enthusiast Murray Hedgcock, who drew up the rules by which our annual Victorian Cricket Match against the P.G. Wodehouse Society is played; novelist John le Carré; and actors John Sessions, Geoffrey Palmer, John Fraser, Barbara Windsor, Rosalind Knight, Christopher Plummer, Frank Mills, Ronald Pickup, Cyril Bagshaw and Trevor Peacock.
“I Am an OmnivorousReader” * Book reviews by Catherine Cooke, Alistair Duncan, Gordon Dymowski, Matthew J Elliott, Mark Mower, Sarah Obermuller-Bennett, Valerie Schreiner, John Sheppard, Jean Upton, Nicholas Utechin and Roger Johnson.
Wigmore Street Postbag * Letters to The Sherlock Holmes Journal.