The Tony & Freda Howlett Literary Award, 2020


In 2009 the late Mikio Kawamura, a distinguished Japanese Holmesian scholar and long-time member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, founded and sponsored the annual Tony & Freda Howlett Literary Award, for the outstanding contribution to the literature of Sherlock Holmes written by a member of the Society and published in the previous year.

Normally the winner would be announced at the Annual General Meeting – but these are not normal times, so…

This year, the Tony & Freda Howlett Literary Award goes to Simon Smyth for his excellent article “The Case of the Two Coptic Patriarchs”, published in the Summer 2019 issue of The Sherlock Holmes Journal

Most of us, surely, have read “The Retired Colourman” and wondered about Holmes’s cryptic remark:

“You know that I am preoccupied with this case of the two Coptic Patriarchs, which should come to a head to-day.”

Yet little has been written about it over the decades. Perhaps it was considered too fanciful or too obscure. Only a specialist could do it justice – and Simon Smyth is just that, as he is himself a priest of the Coptic Orthodox Church. There really were two Coptic Patriarchs, and, as so often, religious differences were inextricable from political differences. Thanks to Simon Smyth, we now know the identity of the two Patriarchs, and the delicate nature of the problem that  Sherlock Holmes was called upon to solve.

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