The Sherlock Holmes Journal, Summer 2023

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.
If you’re missing back issues of the Journal, check what’s available from the Society’s shop at
https://www.sherlock-holmes.org.uk/shop/archives/journal-archive/.
There are issues back as far as 1972, for just £3.00 each!

The Summer 2023 issue is now out!

You can download the book reviews here:
I Am an Omnivorous Reader, Summer 2023

The front cover background is “At the Reichenbach Falls”, a painting in oils on canvas by Chuck Kovacic, of North Hills, California.

Editorial: “Regulars and Irregulars”
*   Some obvious – but often overlooked – facts about Holmes’s official and unofficial partners in (the fight against) crime.

Editorial Notes
*   Again, the list of honours is a long one. Jean Upton, editor of our newsletter, The District Messenger, received The Tony Howlett Award for outstanding service to the Society; and Glen Miranker, one of the great Holmesian collectors, won The Tony & Freda Howlett Literary Award for the beautiful catalogue of his exhibition Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects.
*   At the BSI Annual Dinner in New York, 11 new Baker Street Irregulars received the Irregular Shilling, and the rare Two-Shilling Award went to Greg Ruby. Our good friend Steven Rothman stepped down after 23 years as Editor of The Baker Street Journal. We wish success to the new Editor, Dan Andriacco.
*   Also in New York, the ACD Society’s Annual Doylean Honors notably included the announcement that the winner of the Lifetime Service Award was Owen Dudley Edwards.
*   Our esteemed Honorary Member Albert Kunz – former head of the Swiss National Tourist Office in London and instigator of the Society’s pilgrimages to Switzerland – recently celebrated his hundredth birthday.
*   St Bartholomew’s Hospital, where Holmes and Watson first met, was founded 900 years ago. Barts Heritage is leading the restoration and rejuvenation of the hospital’s historic buildings.
*   In 2006, the Baker Street Irregulars launched their Oral History Project. Nine of  approximately 180 recorded interviews with Irregulars are accessible online, the most recent being that with the late Nicholas Utechin. You can hear them at http://www.bsitrust.org/search/label/Audio+Oral%20History.
*   Our friend Lawrence Albert has played Dr Watson for a record 25 years in the Imagination Theatre series The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Classic Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (the latter being the first complete dramatisation of the canon by one writer – our own Matthew J Elliott – and starring the same lead actors throughout).
*   Mark Chellew, President and Newsletter Editor of The Sherlock Holmes Society of South Australia, advises us that the Society’s website is now at https://adelaiderascals.com.
*   Besides the Society’s Gazetteer, devised and largely created by John Morewood – which  you’ll find at https://gazetteer.sherlock-holmes.org.uk/about/ (or via the website) – MC Black suggests checking Ian Visits, where a recent episode investigates the former mews from which Holmes and Watson entered the Empty House: https://www.ianvisits.co.uk/articles/londons-alleyskendall-place-w1-60240.
*   Edward Whiten tells us of a remarkable find in a pile of papers he bought at auction nearly 60 years ago. It’s a letter, apparently written by Sherlock Holmes himself …
*    A major Sherlock Holmes exhibition, organised by the National Library of China and authorised by the Conan Doyle Estate, opened on the 28th April at the National Museum of Classic Books in Beijing.

“Heron, Not Hamish – A Passionate Support of the Name John Heron Watson, MD” by Akiko Sato
*   The character of Sherlock Holmes was certainly inspired by Conan Doyle’s mentor, Dr Joseph Bell. By far the likeliest inspiration for Holmes’s friend and partner was Bell’s colleague, Dr Patrick Heron Watson.

“The Island Baroness – Floella Benjamin, the First Black Female Sherlock Holmes” by Howard Ostrom and Ray Wilcockson
*   Born in Trinidad in 1949, elevated to the British peerage 51 years later, Floella Benjamin’s honours, awards, offices held, publications, as well as her charitable and educational interests, would fill volumes. Less well known is that in January 1984, she appeared as Shirley Holmes, with Brian Cant as Dr Wally Watson, in the BBC TV children’s show Play Away.

“Sherlock Holmes and the Webley Revolvers” by Dr Daniel J Benny
*   Dr Benny, a licensed private investigator and security advisor in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, identifies Holmes’s firearm of choice.

“There Is More in This than Meets the Eye” by Douglas Williams
*   How the members of the Worthingdon Bank gang tracked down their treacherous colleague, Sutton – alias Blessington.

“The Canon and the Journal – A Scrapbook” by Ashley Mayo
*   Our former Treasurer introduces his magnum opus, by which researchers and others with a interest in a specific aspect of the canon (and the apocrypha) can easily find such relevant articles, letters, etc. as have been published in The Sherlock Holmes Journal

“Watson Remembers” by Cindy Stevens
*   A charming vers libre poem.

Sherlock Holmes – The Last Act! reviewed by Roger Johnson
*   David Stuart Davies wrote his one-man play for the late Roger Llewellyn. In March this year, Nigel Miles-Thomas took it on – the first actor since Roger’s death to do so. It’s a delight to report that his performance is excellent!

Sherlock Holmes and the Rudolph Mystery reviewed by Roger Johnson
*   Unlike Sherlock Holmes – The Last Act, this was a specially written comedy with songs – almost a pantomime – produced by a rural amateur theatre group. Your reviewer found it ingenious, endearing and very funny.

The Hound of the Baskervilles reviewed by Bonnie MacBird
*   Mark Gatiss played Holmes, with Sanjeev Bhaskar as Watson, in Neil Brand’s new dramatisation for BBC Radio 3, recorded on the 20th December in the Barbican Concert Hall before a spellbound audience, among whom were several members of the Society, including your reviewer. 

“It Seems to Me…” by Auberon Redfearn
*   An editor accuses Dr Watson’s reports of not being “politically correct”!

Transactions, by Valerie Schreiner. Derrick Belanger and Roger Johnson
*   The AGM on the 18th October – postponed from the 19th May – was followed by the 2022 Richard Lancelyn Green Lecture, given by crime novelist and historian Mike Ripley. In “I Spy Sherlock”, Mr Ripley reminded us that Sherlock Holmes deserves a place alongside Richard Hannay and James Bond as a classic secret agent and spy-catcher.
*   The Annual Film Evening on the 15th November was our first since 2020 not to be conducted via Zoom. Matthew Elliott treated us to a newly restored print of the Arthur Wontner classic The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes – an intelligent and exciting, if imperfect, retelling of The Valley of Fear. It was followed by the first episode of the 2019 Japanese TV series Sherlock: Untold Stories, which is set in present-day Tokyo, with the principal characters being equivalents of Holmes, Watson and the rest.
*   At “Loose Canons in the Canon” on the 16th March, Cardinal Tosca (Jonathan McCafferty), Revd Dr Shlessinger (Peter Horrocks), Heather Owen, Catherine Cooke and Rakshita Patel spoke with scholarly wit about Sherlock Holmes and religion.

“The Seven-per-Cent  Salutation”
*   Guest of Honour at the Annual Dinner on the 14th January was Nicholas Meyer, author of the groundbreaking novel The Seven-per-Cent Solution, and the screenplay for the subsequent film – and now possibly the most celebrated writer for Star Trek since Gene Roddenberry 
(that series has featured its own incarnation of the great detective). Nearly 50 years on, his fifth Holmes novel, The Return of the Pharaoh, was published in 2021. Following the toast to the Immortal Memory, Catherine Cooke introduced our own Professor John McNabb, who pointed out that a short period in the late 20th century gave us no fewer than four outstanding Holmes movies: besides
The Seven-per-Cent Solution, there were A Study in Terror, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, and Murder by Decree. Proposing the traditional toast to Dr Watson, he remarked that the line quoted on Arthur Conan Doyle’s gravestone is no less appropriate for Holmes’s faithful friend: “Steel true, blade straight”.

“It Is With a Heavy Heart…” Obituaries by Jean Upton & Roger Johnson
*   This year we have lost Ron Lies, friend of John Bennett Shaw and co-founder of The Sons of Shaw, a society that honours the memory and the legacy of JBS; Helen Lentin, a member of this Society for nearly 40 years; and Russell Merritt, professor in the Film Department at University of California Berkeley, and Baker Street Irregular for over 50 years. Russell supervised the restoration of
William Gillette’s long-lost silent movie Sherlock Holmes, and he was Guest of Honour at our Annual Dinner – The Gillette Jollification – in 2015. He was generous, helpful and wise, as well as learned, and he had the gift of friendship.

“I Am an Omnivorous Reader”
*    Book reviews by Mark Jones, Guy Marriott, Sarah Obermuller-Bennett, John Sheppard & Roger Johnson

“Wigmore Street Postbag”
*    Letters to The Sherlock Holmes Journal.

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