Sunday, November 27, 2022

Interesting Interview: Heather Hinson

Do you have a person in your Sherlockian world that always brings energy to a conversation?  Heather Hinson is that person for us at The Parallel Case of St. Louis as well as in the online world.  Whether it's a scion meeting, Zoom discussion, or Twitter thread, Heather jumps into every conversation and activity full of excitement and gets everyone around her pumped about whatever is going on.

But she isn't just a local hero or someone who lurks in conversations on the web.  No, Heather has started her own online discussion group, The Lion's Mane Literary Society, has had an ongoing series of articles in The Watsonian about important women in the Sherlockian Canon, and was a cornerstone author in The Monstrum Opus of Sherlock Holmes.  She's also a key player in planning next year's Holmes in the Heartland conference.  Have I missed something?  Probably because this woman is everywhere!  And this week, she's right here, so let's spend some time with Heater Hinson!


How do you define the word “Sherlockian”?

A Sherlockian is anyone who walks into the fandom of Sherlock Holmes and falls right down the rabbit hole. It doesn’t matter how they get here. If they are a fan of Sherlock Holmes, they’re a Sherlockian. 

How did you become a Sherlockian?

I blame my father and Nicholas Rowe. In 1985, a movie came on HBO called Young Sherlock Holmes. My father had introduced me to "A Scandal in Bohemia" earlier that year and had given me a (very) brief rundown of the history of Sherlock Holmes. Enough of a history that I understood why the students hated Sherlock in the school, I understood the pipe and the deerstalker. And when the after-credit scene of the movie revealed that Professor Rathe was in fact Moriarty, I was giddy with excitement. Thus began my descent into the rabbit hole. I was stuck for a while but now the full fall is complete. 


What is your profession and does that affect how you enjoy being a Sherlockian?
 
I work in Medical Records at a local St. Louis hospital. It’s a Monday through Friday job which helps that I don’t need to take much time off I go with conventions and meetings. I work with medical terms, so it helps when I’m writing and need to figure out medical terms. Fun fact, there is a Dr. John Watson who is a physician at one of my hospitals, but I have not met him yet. I am silently amused when I run across his name in a chart. 

What is your favorite canonical story?
 
If you had asked teen me, I would have said “A Scandal in Bohemia” or the The Hound of the Baskervilles because those were two of the popular Holmesian stories that were constantly out in the public’s eye. 

However, adult me had two favorite canonical stories, “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches” followed by “The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane.” I feel both stories are pushed aside for other popular ones, and I would love to see them get more attention. 


Who is a specific Sherlockian that you think others would find interesting?
 
Madeline Quinones! I feel like I’ve known her forever, even if it’s only been since the pandemic began. On top of being a member of the John H Watson Society, Madeline also co-runs and co-hosts a podcast called Dynamics of a Podcast the only Moriarty based podcast, she also runs a comic called The Adventures of Professor Moriarty which is basically the Professor and his loyal compatriot, Colonel Moran getting into all sorts of interesting situations. She also hosts a weekly Zoom meeting called Canonical Conversationalists that’s just Sherlockians getting together talking about everything. She has so many things going on, I don’t know how she has time to sleep!

What subset of Sherlockiana really interests you?
 
I’m not sure it’s a subset, but I am fascinated in listening to the older Sherlockians talking about their experiences in Sherlockiana. At my first “non fandom” Sherlock Holmes convention, I listened to someone tell me stories of how she met and spoke with John Bennet Shaw as a young woman. I’ve heard stories during Canonical Conversationalists of how Sherlockian meetings and meets up were in the Seventies. There’s so much rich history in older generations that are slowly disappearing and it’s fascinating to me to hear the stories. My goal is to eventually sit down with groups of the older generations and listen to their stories over a beer or drink of choice. 
 
As someone well-versed in the fandom world, how does Sherlockian fandom compare to others that you're a part of?
 
I came in backwards into the Sherlock Holmes fandom. First by a movie, then reintroduced by the resurgence of Holmes in the 2010’s. In my opinion, the Sherlockian fandom has two distinct groups, the devout media fandom, and the devout academic fandom. There is some meshing in between both, but a portion of the fandom is either in one or the other.
 
Fandom itself has changed over the years but despite all the discontent in the Sherlock fandom, I would still say that now, it is much calmer than some of the other fandoms I’ve been in. I think it helps that there is both media and literature to fall back on. As the Sherlockian media ebbs and flows, the fandom always has the books. And now with all the stories finally public domain in 2023, I look forward to seeing what the fandom does with some of the newly freed titles!
 

You've recently done some Sherlockian travelling!  What are some highlights from your trips?
 
I was finally able to go to London England and Edinburgh Scotland this past July and I made it a Sherlockian holiday! I stopped at all the touristy attractions like the Sherlock Holmes Museum, where we only visited the gift shop, and the Sherlock Holmes Pub, where I was able to take pictures of the front room they have displayed upstairs. Some of my main highlights was taking afternoon tea at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel, going into the St. Bartholomew’s Hospital’s small museum (and seeing the spot where Sherlock jumped from BBC’s “The Reichenbach Fall”) and doing The Game Is Now escape room. 


What book would you recommend to other Sherlockians?
 
When I was working on my paper on the Women of Sherlock Holmes, I found the book From Holmes to Sherlock by Mattias Bostrom fascinating. I read it from cover to cover in about a week. Anyone wanting to read the history of the creation of Sherlock Holmes to the current year, should pick up this book and read it. 
 
If we’re talking about fiction books, I will never stop shouting into the Void about Theodora Goss’s The Extraordinary Adventure of the Athena Club book series. While not the main characters, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are continual side characters that fit perfectly in the created world. Theodora Goss was a keynote speaker at the 2020 BSI Weekend and I will forever kick myself that I didn’t know until it was too late. 

Where do you see Sherlockiana in 5 or 10 years from now?
 
The popularity of the current Enola Holmes series and earlier this year, Audible’s Moriarty: The Devil’s Game makes me think that Sherlock Holmes isn’t going anywhere. There’s still rumors of Robert Downey Jr doing a third Sherlock Holmes movie, Snoop Dogg is rumored to be working on a Sherlock Holmes inspired series, as well as new stories being released. I fully expect Sherlockiana to continue well past five or ten years. 

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Interesting Interview: Phil Bergem

This week, Phil Bergem is out Interesting Interview.  And I have to apologize up front.  Phil might be one of the most delightful fellas out there, and I should have have interviewed him long before now.  In fact, I was looking over the list of past interviewees and really thought I'd forgotten to list Phil because I couldn't imagine that I hadn't talked to him yet! So it's time to put right what once went wrong.

Phil is one of those guys you see at plenty of events, and he just radiates good vibes.  I've been lucky enough to write a chapter for his next BSI Press project coming out in January, and he wrote an absolute corker of a piece for The Monstrum Opus of Sherlock Holmes connecting a classic Sherlockian mystery to a very creepy Conan Doyle tale.  Phil has also overseen so many publications coming out of Minnesota, that I won't even try to list them because I will definitely miss something.  But Phil isn't just a great writer and editor.  In his answers below, his good nature shines through and he has that has that "big tent" mentality that welcomes everyone. So enough telling you about how great of a guy he is.  Let the great guy speak for himself!

How do you define the word “Sherlockian”?

Anybody who wants to dig a bit deeper than the original stories, the movies or television series. We all come to Holmes in our own manner. The question is what a person does after the introduction. If someone watches Sherlock or reads The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, says that they enjoyed it, but doesn’t go farther, they’re a fan. That’s all well and good, but I consider a Sherlockian to be a person who wants more. Whether that is reading the Writings on the Writings, learning about life in the Victorian era, producing artwork, or writing fan-fiction, as long as they wish to expand their interest and dig deeper, they’re a Sherlockian. 

How did you become a Sherlockian?

When I was young, perhaps 9 or 10 years old, I was given some Sherlock Holmes stories to read. They didn’t take at that time. In the 1980s, when in my late 20s, I watched the Granada/Jeremy Brett series on television. I found them interesting enough that I bought a collection of the stories. I had recorded the episodes and when I compared the dialogue to the stories, I figured out that the best lines had been written by Conan Doyle and freely used in the scripts. This prompted me to go out and find other books by Conan Doyle. Eventually I found out about the local Sherlockian group, the Norwegian Explorers, and got more and more involved with them.

What is your profession and does that affect how you enjoy being a Sherlockian?

I work as a Civil Engineer for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. It does not affect my Sherlockian life, but my Sherlockian life has helped my work. With various writing, editing, and publishing projects, I have become very adept with Word and that helps me with reviewing and writing engineering documents. 

What is your favorite canonical story?

“The Empty House.” In it, Watson describes, loosely, their walk from Cavendish Square to the Empty House across from Mrs. Hudson’s lodgings. When I annotated Out of the Abyss for the BSI Manuscript Series, I used maps from the period and came up with my own choice for their route. On a trip to England in 2018 I walked it. This intimate connection with the story adds to the enjoyment of it all. 

Bernard Davies’s choice for the location of the “Empty House” in London (middle building). 

Who is a specific Sherlockian that you think others would find interesting?

I hope that you do not mind me mentioning two people. One is Paul Thomas Miller of The Shingle of Southsea in Portsmouth. He has an amazing amount of energy and comes up with interesting projects. He is also the right kind of crazy, which I admire. 

The other person is Julie McKuras. She is outgoing and enthusiastic. With her interests, talents, and supportive husband, she has accomplished a lot, had a number of great Sherlockian experiences, and met very many interesting Sherlockians. As a result, she can tell some great stories. 

What subset of Sherlockiana really interests you?

I am fascinated by the Beeton’s Christmas Annuals, The Strand Magazine, and Conan Doyle’s family history. 

I am fortunate that nearby Sherlock Holmes Collections at the University of Minnesota has four copies of the 1887 Beeton’s Christmas Annual. I was able to examine them closely and to compare conditions. I am also fortunate that I am able to take vacations to interesting places. On various trips I have searched out people and institutions that have one of the 1887 issues. Over the decades of my pursuit, I have seen and examined twenty of the thirty-four known copies. 

The Annual was printed from 1860 until 1898. Issues for many years are rarer than for 1887, although of much less interest, and images of most of the covers are not available on the Internet. I have been working to get photographs of the covers and itemize the contents of all the other years. My intent is to someday develop a webpage to share my findings. 

Cover for the 1889 Beeton’s Christmas Annual. 

As a stalwart member of The Norwegian Explorers of Minnesota, why do you think that region of the country has had such a strong contingency of Sherlockians over the years?

The cold, harsh winters. 

Seriously though, we lucked out with the four founders of the group. One of them, E. W. McDiarmid, was the University of Minnesota Librarian. Through his involvement, and that of the Special Collections Curator, Austin McLean, they worked to build a significant enough collection of Sherlock Holmes materials that John Bennett Shaw decided to add his collection to it. The ties between the Explorers and the Collections were significant in attracting and retaining members. They, in turn, attracted other interesting people. Enough of the members are good at organizing, and have the right levels of energy, ideas, and enthusiasm, that we have been able to host well-received conferences and produce some good publications, including the popular Norwegian Explorers Christmas Annual. In my opinion, having the Sherlock Holmes Collections at the University of Minnesota has given the Norwegian Explorers a focal point to work with and to care about. 

You've been associated with the BSI Manuscript Series for years. What are some fond memories you have of these projects?

I have been lucky to be allowed to transcribe and annotate the various Sherlock Holmes manuscripts for the series. In addition to annotating differences between various printings (first British and US periodical and book editions, and the iconic Doubleday Doran and the John Murray editions) I like to address things that were not covered by Baring-Gould or Klinger in their annotations. There is usually one finding in each book that I particularly love. Examples include finding a music release titled “Ionides of Alexandria” (The Wrong Passage (GOLD)), finding a photo of the 100-HP Benz which is mentioned (Trenches (LAST)), researching “that great forest” and Tudor period iron smelting (Deadly Harpoon (BLAC)) and Watson’s mention of tennis shoes and their use in the late 1880s (The Worst Man in London (CHAS)). It’s fun to explore these tidbits and even more fun to share them. 

What book would you recommend to other Sherlockians?

Again, I’d like to offer two. The first is From Holmes to Sherlock by Mattias Boström. It wonderfully outlines the Sherlockian movement from the origins to current day (or when it was published in the US in 2017) and gives a well-written and lovingly researched account of the history of Sherlockiana and how the present interest in Sherlock Holmes came to be. 

The second book is a pastiche that I enjoyed — Holmes Volume 1: Enigma, Detective, Boro Lad by Melvyn Small (recently re-released as The Accidental Detective). It is set in present times in northeastern England, the area where I lived during my high school years. This Holmes is a cross between Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch, speaking with the curse-filled lingo of a Middlesbrough lad. While I was attracted by the setting, I enjoyed the stories and relationship between Watson and Holmes. I think it deserves some additional exposure. There are three books in the series, the other two being The Song of the Swan and Three Pint Problems

Where do you see Sherlockiana in 5 or 10 years from now?

I think that with our collective experiences of meeting virtually over the past three years, that method will continue even as we start meeting in person again. A result, I expect, will be more and more intermingling of Sherlockians across the US and between nations. I hope that there is a continuing influx of people attracted by Enola Holmes, the upcoming Robert Downey, Jr. movie, and the steady stream of new pastiches being printed. We need younger members and more diversity among the membership. 

Holmes and Watson are a convenient, established way of telling interesting stories with an always-popular underlying message of friendship. I believe that there will continue to be a strong interest in Sherlockiana as new material is written and people find their way back to the original stories. 

Sunday, November 6, 2022

The Disposition of the Child [COPP]

Reading "The Copper Beeches" on this Fall weekend made certain things stick out.  Every mention of the titular trees made me look around to appreciate how vibrant the leaves are in my neighborhood.  And Halloween being right around the corner made me think of werewolves every time Carlo was mentioned (If you're unfamiliar with that argument, I strongly recommend checking out Ray Betzner's essay "Whatever Happened to Baby Rucastle" in The Monstrum Opus of Sherlock Holmes.)  

But more importantly to this teacher's mind was another autumnal constant: Parent/Teacher Conferences.

Now, what do Parent/Teacher Conferences have to do with "The Copper Beeches" you might ask?  Let me quote Sherlock Holmes to explain that for you:

"My dear Watson, you as a medical man are continually gaining light as to the tendencies of a child by the study of the parents.  Don't you see that the converse is equally valid.  I have frequently gained my first real insight into the character of parents by studying their children.  This child's disposition is abnormally cruel, merely for cruelty's sake, and whether he derives this from his smiling father, as I should suspect, or from his mother, it bodes evil for the poor girl who is in their power."


Let me be clear, I'm not claiming that I have students who spend their lives alternating "between savage fits of passion and gloomy intervals of sulking" or that giving pains to any creatures weaker than themselves seems to be an idea of amusement.  

But Holmes's diagnoses of the apple not falling too far from the tree would ring true to any teacher.  The talkative kids in class?  Those are the conferences that I worry will run overtime with the parents.  The kids who want to please and are wonderfully behaved?  Those conferences will be with some delightful folks.  The intellectually curious kids will likely be repped by folks who have great questions of their own when we talk.  I could go on and on....

Other children in the Canon prove Holmes's point as well.  Jack Smith, the pilot Mordecai Smith's young son comes to mind.  He shows an entrepreneurial spirit in The Sign of Four, just like his father who is not opposed to working with some shady folks for the right price.


Early on in "The Copper Beeches," Jephro Rucastle describes his son as "a child who may some day play a considerable part in the history of the country" and a few paragraphs later laughed at how vicious Edward was toward cockroaches.  Do we see parallels in the father's own nature?  The way he speaks to Violet Hunter once she is in his employ, the way he treats his daughter, and how he speaks to Holmes at their meeting shows that the man feels that he is on a higher plane that some folks.  And it's very clear that Rucastle has a violent streak in him just like his boy.

Growing up, was Jephro Rucastle an "utterly spoiled and so ill-natured a little creature" as his own son is?  If Sherlock Holmes and Parent/Teacher Conference data have anything to say, it's pretty safe to say that both Rucastles follow similar paths.  But the traumatic closing events of "The Copper Beeches" may not have saved only Violet Hunter and Alice Rucastle.  That fateful night may have altered the trajectory of Edward Rucastle's life as well and kept him from turning into his father.  And for that, the mice, birds, and little insects of Hampshire should be glad.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Interesting Interview: Johanna Draper Carlson

Looking back, Johanna Draper Carlson has only been a part of my Sherlockian social circle for a year or so but she feels like someone who's been an evergreen member of the community.  Johanna's online presence just elevates everyone around her.  And the perspective she brings to every conversation is a great mix of knowledge and fandom, bridging two big groups in our hobby.

I got to meet Johanna in-person when we were at the Celebration of Sherlock Holmes conference in Chicago last May.  Johanna is such a delightful person to hang around with!  And she contributed a wonderful piece to The Monstrum Opus of Sherlock Holmes so I can now say she is also a delightful person to work with!  And after reading this week's interview, I bet you'll be thinking the same thing.


How do you define the word “Sherlockian”?

I generally try not to. “Someone who likes Sherlock Holmes,” I suppose, would work for me. Whatever version, whatever format, whatever medium. I love that we’re continuing to get closer to a world where there’s a Sherlock out there for everyone, and I enjoy talking to people about which versions they like and why. 

Some of that is due to past experiences. I spent a couple of decades in comic fandom, where a few bad apples made things difficult. I’ve had to pass a trivia test to demonstrate I have enough knowledge to be considered a real fan, and I have had to ignore insinuations that women are “fake geek girls.” As a result, I can be sensitive to perceived gatekeeping. If someone says they’re a fan, or a Sherlockian, of whatever variety, that’s fine by me. 

I love Sherlock Holmes in part because there are so many variants and flavors and portrayals, and I enjoy learning about why he’s interesting to others, whether they’re traditional, prose-only Sherlockians or media fans or creating their own stories. When they have a perspective different from mine, all the better — that’s more for me to learn from. 

How did you become a Sherlockian?

My origin story has three parts. The first is that I read the Baring-Gould Annotated Sherlock Holmes as a kid. I’ve always been interested not just in stories, but how the stories are made, and the behind-the-scenes. The annotations helped me understand basics, like how much money was worth then compared to now, but also that there were some very devoted fans of this character. (I’m still amused by the fixation on the weather in order to “correct” Watson. Having worked for a comic book company, my understanding of how serial stories are created, and the “just make the deadline” approach I often saw, likely colors my analysis.) 

The second part was moving to Madison, Wisconsin, and discovering the Notorious Canary-Trainers, the local scion society, shortly thereafter. They’re a wonderful group that gathers monthly to discuss a story. I’ve come to understand that they’re rather low-key in comparison to some — no dues, no publications, no set agenda — but most importantly, the people were friendly. Having a group to meet with regularly was encouraging, particularly during the past few years, when we met online. 

Speaking of which, the third part is the pandemic lockdown. I rediscovered the BBC Sherlock during that time, and then met a bunch of fans of that show virtually. That reawakened my interest in media appearances of the character. I also visited various online gatherings, which gave me a good overview of the diversity of Sherlockians. And how welcoming they could be! 

The welcomes extended to opportunities to write. I queried both the I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere blog and Sherlock Holmes Magazine, which resulted in my reviewing Sherlock-related books for the blog and contributing articles to the magazine from issue #5 on. 


What is your profession and does that affect how you enjoy being a Sherlockian?

My day job is Software Development Manager. That gives me a familiarity with tech, which means I could set up our society mailing list and help with virtual meetings. 

My long-lasting other occupation has been writing about comic books, manga, and graphic novels. I launched my website ComicsWorthReading.com in 1999, and by my reckoning, although it’s not as active these days, it’s the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres and formats of comics, including graphic novels, independent press, alternative, manga, graphic memoir, superhero comic books, and mainstream works, as well as related media. 

Also during the pandemic, some other comic journalist friends were regularly gathering online. I told them how much I was enjoying rediscovering my love of Sherlock Holmes, and they encouraged me to combine the two interests. I launched SherlockComics.com on February 21, 2022, and that has led to being invited to make presentations and conference appearances on the subject, which I very much enjoy. 

My technical background means I know how to create a website, and my time as a comic journalist means I know how to tell other people about it. I discovered that there were various sites online with lists of Sherlock Holmes in comics, but none of them were what I was looking for, which was more specific. 

I wanted to know which appearances were stories, and which merely cameos. Were they using a traditional portrayal, or did they take another approach? Telling original stories or canon rework? And how could I find these stories without hunting down back issues? 

That’s why I created SherlockComics.com. It’s intended to be an index to comic-format stories about Sherlock Holmes and related characters in comic books, manga, and graphic novels. My focus is on stories others can relatively easily find and read, if interested, so I talk more about collections (TPBs), reprints, and books in print than collectibles or cameo appearances. I also try to give some guidance as to who might like which stories without giving away too many spoilers. 

Oh, one other thing about my profession — I can’t deny that making a good living makes it easier to visit conferences and gatherings and meet other Sherlockians. So long as I can get the time off. 

What is your favorite canonical story?

My scion name comes from “The Speckled Band,” and that’s a classic. My favorite character is Mycroft Holmes, which means “The Bruce-Partington Plans” should rank highly. I’m going to pick, though, “The Blanched Soldier,” because it’s so petty, which makes it fascinating to me. 

I think many of us are inspired by the close relationship between Holmes and Watson, one of the immortal fictional friendships. Reading a story where Holmes alternates between passively aggressively insulting his former partner and obviously missing him is so emotionally telling. He’s sentimental, darn it, and that reveals a side of the character that’s not as well-known. 

Plus, this is the story that gives us two wonderful quotes: “deserted me for a wife” and the one we all know about “however improbable.” 

(My very favorite story is “A Study in Pink” because it’s a terrific example of how to keep these stories alive for new generations.) 


Who is a specific Sherlockian that you think others would find interesting?

I thought I was walking on eggshells with the first question! This one is tricky for me. I’ve met so many wonderful people in the Sherlockian world. But I think my favorite Sherlockian is Dorothy L. Sayers, because she was so inspired she created another of my favorite detectives, Lord Peter Wimsey. (I finally got an offshoot of the Canary-Trainers to start reading the novels so I would have someone to discuss them with.)

What subset of Sherlockiana really interests you?

I should probably say the comics, as I think that’s why you asked for the interview (and thank you very much for that!), but to broaden that a bit, what really interests me is seeing how many stories have been inspired by the Great Detective. Whether you call them fic, pastiches, sequels, or fanfiction, I love the diversity of subject matter and the many outstandingly creative ideas people come up with. 

Particularly with fic, it’s a brilliant way to find so many unusual concepts. Someone’s got a hobby or an interest or an opinion, and they combine it with Holmes, Watson, and their supporting cast, and a story results. 

One of my personal favorite themes is time travel, as when an 1895 Holmes winds up in present day, or a modern John Watson visits the past (especially when one used the setup Connie Willis created, as seen in To Say Nothing of the Dog). One I found particularly enjoyable had a past Holmes demanding of Mycroft that he use the secret government time machine to send Watson to the future to be cured of cholera, where he was treated by modern Watson. 

Those kinds of stories are great for exploring what makes the characters universal and timeless as well as how they can continue to be relevant. 


How have you seen Sherlockian comics change over the years?

That’s a tricky question to answer, as I am coming to them from a historical, looking-back perspective — I only started paying attention to them a year or so ago. There are plenty of people who’ve been following them as they came out, and who have much more extensive collections. 

I focus on stories about Sherlock Holmes, where he (or she or a related character) is a prominent part of the goings-on. Since starting, I have had the pleasure of meeting people who have gone for the deep dive, picking up anything that had a one-panel cameo or even just a deerstalker. That’s dedication! 

But looking back, it appears to me trends in Sherlockian comics mimic trends in the greater comic industry. We see an explosion of young reader versions of The Hound of the Baskervilles as schools and libraries begin realizing how educational comics can be. We see a rise in more diverse portrayals — including versions starring people of color and women — when crowdfunding allows people to more easily find audiences directly and put out more personal interpretations. 

Most obvious are the media connections, as we see more action-adventure takes when the Downey/Ritchie movies are out, for example. Sherlock Holmes is such a well-known character that tracing the various approaches — in both content and format — taken with him over the years shows in microcosm changes in the comic industry, from expanding audiences to reprint viability. 

What are some favorite Sherlockian comics that you've come across?

My favorite, for the humor and the use of two sets of beloved characters, is Muppet Sherlock Holmes. Sadly, due to licensing changes, it is long out of print. And because it was a kids’ comic, lots of the copies got read to pieces or otherwise destroyed. Which is a darn shame. 

I adore the game-playing in the choose-your-own-path Graphic Novel Adventures put out by Van Ryder Games. There are six volumes now, each with multiple cases, and I think I’ve maybe solved a total of two across the series. 

I really want someone to reprint the two-part Marvel Preview Hound of the Baskervilles from 1976, because it’s moody and theatrical and gorgeous. 

I enjoy the Shirley & Jamila series because it provides hope for the future, with two young women detectives helping out their classmates. As you’ve likely gathered by now, I like seeing people take these characters and their abilities and involvements and find new ways to tell stories with them. 

And for pure laughs, Ghostbees’ Consulting Detectives webcomic is a brilliant portrayal of the classic characters with a modern-day sensibility, making them ever more human. 


What book would you recommend to other Sherlockians?

The book I come back to each month (coordinated with our society’s reading schedule) is About Sixty: Why Every Sherlock Holmes Story Is the Best, edited by Christopher Redmond. Some of the essays provide new insight, some seem to be making the case that any Holmes is great, but I usually learn something new from it. Plus, now that I’ve met some of the contributors, it’s fun to see who wrote what. 

Where do you see Sherlockiana in 5 or 10 years from now?

I’m excited, sooner than that, to see what happens after all the Arthur Conan Doyle stories become fully public domain in 2023. I know several people waiting to launch creative projects at that point. Hopefully that leads to a blossoming of interesting works inspired by the originals. 

In the longer run, I have strong hopes that we will continue to see more acceptance of varying types of Sherlockians and different sources of interest. Fans these days are more likely to have come from the media versions, and it’s obvious to many that new blood is necessary to avoid societies aging out and disappearing. I hope we can continue to reach out to new people and include them in, just as Sherlockians have been welcoming to me. 

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Some Monstrous Conspiracy [NAVA]

The truth is out there.  And now it can finally be told.

Through no fault of my own, I somehow got roped into shining a light into the darkest recesses of the Sherlockian Canon.  I'm a humble editor/proofreader, so how I ended up working with Nathaniel Barker-Harris, the great-great-grandsomething of Cecil Barker from Surrey is beyond me. 

Okay, let me back up.  You might be wondering what all of this is about.  I posted last week on Twitter and Facebook about a new book I co-edited with Brad Keefauver and Nathaniel Barker-Harris, The Monstrum Opus of Sherlock Holmes.  

The Monstrum Opus of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of 17 essays that pull back the curtain on some pretty big cover-ups (some might even say conspiracies) to hide the true nature of some seriously monstrous interactions that Holmes and Watson had during their years of active service.  I know, "No ghosts need apply."  And yeah, there are a million books out there that pit Holmes against Dracula or other vampires, but this isn't a pastiche or some book filled with spirits contacting the living.  

The Monstrum Opus of Sherlock Holmes collects some pretty prominent names in Sherlockiana and some exciting new ones as well.  And in it they all make some serious arguments that will make you rethink some of the stories that we love so much.  At least they did for me.  Just check out the contributor list:

Elinor Gray

Ray Betzner

Paul Thomas Miller

Nancy Holder

Heather Hinson

Steve Mason

Johanna Draper-Carlson

Beth Gallego

M.K. Wiseman

Phil Bergem

Claire Daines

Derrick Belanger

Nick Martorelli

Luke Poling

Mary O'Reilly

Shana Carter

Burt Wolder


See?  Quite a list!  I've interviewed most of these folks and never knew until working on this project that they had such intimate knowledge of this monstrous conspiracy.  Did they know that others out there had such information as well?  Had Nathaniel Barker-Harris connected them with one another?  I don't know, but I do know that after working on The Monstrum Opus of Sherlock Holmes, I've spent some time looking into the abyss of questioning what I thought I knew.  

Maybe there are more folks out there who know more than they are letting on.  But for now, I'm content to share these 17 authors with the world and let the world decide what to do with all of this new knowledge....

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Interesting Interview: Aaron Rubin

To see Aaron Rubin is to immediately be taken in by his sense of style.  Aaron has been studying the history of art, fashion, and jewelry for years and has lectured on these topics throughout Los Angeles and San Francisco.  He also wrote an article in a recent issue of The Baker Street Journal reminiscing about his early years as a Sherlockian and being possibly the youngest person to recreate Holmes and Watson's sitting room.

Aaron is one of the newest batch of Baker Street Irregulars from this year's class and I've been very lucky to get to know him over the course of this year through emails after we were invested.  And through this week's interview, I got to learn a little more about him.  I love knowing that there was a family connection to this hobby and that he has been involved with his home scion since the age of TWELVE!  If you already know Aaron, you know you're in for some words from a really nice guy, and if you haven't met him yet, get ready to learn about someone you're going to want to get to know better!


How do you define the word “Sherlockian”?

I believe that a Sherlockian has read the Canon at least once, has the inclination to read it all again, and is at least familiar with the concept of the Great Game (or the Higher Criticism) whether they practice it or not. The road to becoming a Sherlockian can start anywhere, but no matter how devoted you are to the Basil Rathbone films or the Benedict Cumberbatch series or to any series of pastiches, if you haven’t read and digested the entire Canon then you’re really just a Sherlock Holmes fan. That is, a fan of the character named “Sherlock Holmes.” And there’s nothing wrong with being a fan, but a Sherlockian has pushed past fandom into something else entirely. Obsession, I suppose. But whatever that something else is, it should be built on the foundation of the original source material.

How did you become a Sherlockian?

I was extremely fortunate to have Sherlock Holmes introduced to me by my sixth grade teacher. I was instantly hooked, and I was blessed to have parents who could see that my new passion was more than a fleeting interest. My mother was something like a Sherlockian in her youth, and she did the research to find The Curious Collectors of Baker Street and signed us up for membership. Being part of a group of exceptionally friendly and welcoming Sherlockians, at such a young age (I was twelve), meant that I had the support and encouragement to pursue this passion all through my awkward teen years, high school, college, and beyond. 

Age twelve, delivering my first “scholarly” paper at my first Curious Collectors of Baker Street meeting.


What is your profession and does that affect how you enjoy being a Sherlockian?

In my previous life I worked at a major auction house for about nine years. I spent most of that time assisting the Fine Jewelry department and the Entertainment Memorabilia department. I can’t recall any Sherlockian overlap in my work with jewelry (although I was always hunting for an emerald snake ring for my collection), but Holmes did pop up occasionally in the world of Entertainment Memorabilia. I won’t say too much, but it’s pleasing to know that Basil Rathbone (in 1939) and I (circa 2013) wore the same sized jacket!

What is your favorite canonical story?

I recently reread The Valley of Fear and enjoyed it so thoroughly that I was surprised. I probably hadn’t read it in over 20 years and had only a vague memory of finding it rather dull. Mea culpa! Maybe I just didn’t “get it” back then. I suppose it’s a favorite at the moment. For sentimental reasons I always say that “A Scandal in Bohemia” is my favorite. 

Who is a specific Sherlockian that you think others would find interesting?

Maggie Schpak! Maggie’s career in film and television props, jewelry, and costume design is endlessly fascinating. And every marvelous object she has made comes with its own equally marvelous story or humorous anecdote. For decades she has supplied bespoke Sherlockian medals for the Curious Collectors of Baker Street annual medal quiz. And countless tiaras, brooches, stickpins, earrings, etc. (all either explicitly Sherlockian or Victorian-inspired) have been prominent highlights of fund-raising auctions and raffles for both the CCOBS and the BSI. She is a font of amazing stories, great humor, technical expertise in an assortment of fields, a dedicated Sherlockian since childhood, and one of my personal style icons. I guess I tend to assume that everyone knows Maggie, but if you don’t, you should. 

Just a typical teenager’s bedroom.

What subset of Sherlockiana really interests you?

My most ambitious Sherlockian endeavor was the transformation of my childhood bedroom into a re-creation of the sitting room at 221B Baker Street. I should clarify that I did this while still using it as my bedroom. I was limited by space, resources, concessions to practicality, and my as-yet-undeveloped knowledge of the period and antiques. But I dove into that project with all the zeal that one might expect from a teenage Sherlockian. 

For my birthday one year I asked for an entire fireplace! Then I discovered that an antique sideboard worked just as well for holding clothes. And my bed could be turned into a reasonably convincing settee. I made it work, and the room evolved in stages over a period of about five or six years until the necessities of a twenty-first century adult lifestyle came crashing in and ruined the fantasy. 

When your parents won’t let you sleep on an antique sofa, you make do with what you have. 

But although my sitting room is long-since disassembled, I have never lost my passion for Sherlockian room re-creations. There are certainly enough of them around the globe to classify them as a subset of Sherlockiana. Creating these spaces (usually interpretations of the famous sitting room) is like playing the Great Game on the highest level, and I admire anyone who attempts it. 

Generally speaking, the approach to this Herculean labor falls into one of two categories. There are those who want to cram a room full of as many Canonically-listed or implied artifacts (whether they would/should be in the sitting room or not) and then furnish the space around these items; and then there are those who attempt to create an authentic period room, meticulously building a late Victorian interior and introducing Sherlockian/Watsonian trappings with an eye to making the space believable. I prefer the latter approach and, if I were ever to have the space and money required, would love to try the project again from this angle. But any manner of re-creation (from tiny miniatures to full-scale rooms) is always a magical treat!

Just a typical teenager’s bedroom.

You are well-known in Sherlockian circles for your fashion-sense.  How has that enhanced how you enjoy our hobby?

Am I? I’m flattered! Here the link with Sherlock Holmes is concrete, but the other way around. Being a Sherlockian gave me an avenue to explore and develop my interest in fashion. The CCOBS has always been blessed with a hefty contingent of historical re-enactors, dancers, and costumers. The club’s annual Gasfitters’ Ball was the history-immersive highlight of my year, but all of our events were (and are) excuses to don period costume. Consequently I went from being a schlubby teenage nerd in a t-shirt to being a teenage nerd in a top hat, white tie and tails, and I never looked back! 

From there my tastes moved chronologically from the 1890s to the present day, and I have finally settled into a “look” of my very own. I rarely wear full period costumes anymore but I do wear frock coats and capes as often as possible! Holmes may also have been responsible for revealing my then-latent interest in jewelry. Now I am rarely seen without a brooch, ring, or other doodad, but it all began with scion society pins and quiz medals!

As someone who has been a Sherlockian since you were a kid, how has your interest in Sherlockiana adapted over time?

As is the case with so many of us, my passion for Holmes manifested as the “collection mania in its most acute form.” When I was just starting out on this journey I voraciously acquired any and every Sherlockian item I could get my hands on. Every book, monograph, tchotchke, artwork, matchbook, or scrap of newspaper I could find – as long as it had at least a deerstalker on it - I had to have it. Now I find I am much more selective and deliberate about my acquisitions. This is largely because, as I got older, I started collecting SO many other things beyond Sherlock Holmes. So space and finances had to be shared among my many passions and hobbies. There are plenty of Sherlockians who have devoted every square inch of available space in their life to the storage and display of Sherlockiana, and I probably used to think that I was destined to be one of them. I admire those people but I’m glad that I have found a way to maintain a healthy Sherlock-Life Balance.

About age twenty, dressed for the CCOBS annual Silver Blaze Handicap at the Santa Anita Park.

What book would you recommend to other Sherlockians?

It’s a cliché, I know, but Baring-Gould’s The Annotated Sherlock Holmes is an essential. As a kid it was my first exposure to playing the Great Game, and those annotations confounded me, vexed me, inspired me, and made me want to read the entire Canon to get to the bottom of things!

Where do you see Sherlockiana in 5 or 10 years from now?

“Sherlock Holmes” the character isn’t going anywhere. There will always be new renditions and interpretations of him (or her, or them) in print and on screens both big and pocket-sized. And as long as the character thrives then (hopefully) so will Sherlockiana. It doesn’t matter how you find Holmes, as long as you do. Of course I hope that people will continue to love the character so much that it compels them to read the original stories and join a club!

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Interesting Interview: Denny Dobry

Denny Dobry is known far and wide for his detailed recreation of 221b Baker Street that takes up his entire basement.  I was lucky enough to get a detailed description of that process in The Finest Assorted Collection and he gives a rundown of specific pieces in each year's Baker Street Almanac.

But if you think Denny is just a guy who's built one cool thing, you don't know the half of it!  First of all, Denny is one of the most down-to-earth and nice guys in this hobby.  He ran The Beacon Society for years and has overseen an amazing Sherlockian book sale for even longer.  While he hosts an official open house once a year, I can't count the number of Sherlockians who have told me about visiting Denny.  The man seems to constantly be welcoming visitors!  I could keep going on and on about Denny (I never even mentioned that one time he impersonated a drunken Mrs. Hudson), but let's get to the man himself, Denny Dobry!


How do you define the word “Sherlockian”?

A Sherlockian is not merely someone who has read the Canon or collects books and other Sherlockiana.  As I relate in the next question, to be a Sherlockian, something has to ‘click’ when you read the Canon.  The root of this enchantment has been suggested to be the charm of the British Victorian era, the friendship between Holmes & Watson or the masterful story-telling of Doyle.  Without experiencing one of these or a similar enchantment, readers would not return again and again to re-read the Canon.  Sherlockians are not merely ‘readers’ of the Canon, but often find themselves as ‘eye-witnesses’ to the tales.


How did you become a Sherlockian?

I read SPEC in the ninth grade, and something ‘clicked’ for me, so I guess from that point on,  I became a Sherlockian-in-waiting.  However, in my youth, my interest focused on science, not literature.  While most Sherlockians-to-be were reading the classics and mystery stories, I was reading Science Digest.  I am probably the most ‘un-read’ Sherlockian ever to receive a Shilling.  Despite brief emergences of Sherlockian interest inspired by my ninth-grade revelation, I didn’t drop my ‘-in-waiting’ status until all the publicity surrounding the 100th Anniversary of the publication of STUD hit the media.  The year 1987 was the first time I became aware of the existence of the world of Sherlockiana.  That initial ‘click’ back in the ninth grade grew into resounding roar, and from that point on, I considered myself to be a Sherlockian.


What was your profession before retiring and did that affect how you enjoyed being a Sherlockian?

I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland.  I took several post-graduate courses from Penn State University and the University of Wisconsin and changed my disciple to Civil Engineering. Eventually I became licensed as a Professional Engineer in four States.  My studies and my career really had no positive affect on how I enjoy being a Sherlockian.  The professional company that I kept were technically oriented and literature of any genre was never a topic of discussion.  I recognize myself as an ‘irregularity’ among the Irregulars.  Most Sherlockians are teachers, authors, lawyers, doctors, and other similar professions.  As an engineer, I find myself as part of a very exclusive scion of Sherlockians. 


What is your favorite canonical story?

I was totally drawn into the mystery in The Hound of the Baskervilles.  I vividly remember the first time that I read it and was convinced that I had figured it out and that the Barrymores were culprits.

Who is a specific Sherlockian that you think others would find interesting?

Jeff Decker was the in-house cartoonist of the Baker Street Journal in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.  In addition, his work appeared in numerous other Sherlockian journals and publications. Although he no longer practices his art, his remarkable sense of humor and imagination is still enjoyed today, and a publication of his cartoons is currently in the works.   Jeff and I are close friends and I thoroughly enjoy listening to him recount his personal experiences with Sherlockian legends  as  John Bennett Shaw, Tom Stix, Jr., and others.


What subset of Sherlockiana really interests you?

Many Sherlockians have heard of my 221b Baker Street sitting room re-creation.  Gathering artifacts from the Canonical stories, therefore is my primary Sherlockiana subset interest.  However, as often happens with collectors, I have gone off on a tangent and started to collect Hansom Cab miniatures.  I currently have eleven (11) in my collection and have two more on my radar. 


How did your 221B recreation come about and what is one item in your collection that sticks out to you?

In 1996, I attended my first scion meeting at Watson’s Tin Box in Baltimore Maryland.  Before the meeting I was introduced to Paul Churchill and taken to his home.  Paul had a created a 221b Baker Street sitting room, and that experience of being in the presence of actual artifacts from the Canon inspired me to start my own re-creation.  Paul and I became very close friends and collaborated on many projects to promote our passion.  We lost Paul in 2008, and our world lost a great Sherlockian.   I have his photograph in my office and I think of him every day.  I’m not sure what direction my Sherlockian life would have taken if I had never met Paul. 


It is difficult to select just one item from the many favorites that I have.  The one item that seems to be the favorite of visitors, however is Colonel Moran’s ‘air-gun’.  In EMPT, Watson describes it as ‘a sort of gun, with a curiously misshapen butt,’ and of hearing ‘a long, whirling , grinding noise.’  From the photograph, the ‘curiously misshapen butt’ is obvious and the crank explains the ‘long, whirling , grinding noise’ as Moran turned the handle to pressurize the weapon.  The inscription on the barrel reads: “JOH⋅PETERLONG INNSBRUCK”.  Obviously implying that the gun was made in Austria by the blind German mechanic, Von Herder.

The BSI Book Sale and Open House is a Sherlockian book collector's dream.  What drives you to keep such a large endeavor going?

I very much value preserving the history of the Baker Street Irregulars.  When past-chair of the BSI Trust, Andy Solberg, asked me to sell non-archivable items donated to the Trust, for the benefit of the Trust, I was more than happy to oblige.  Not only do I have the opportunity to add to the Trust’s finances, I’m able to keep valued Sherlockian scholarship titles in the hands of Sherlockians.  And for my personal gratification, albeit for a short period of time, I’m often in possession of some very interesting and treasured Sherlockian objects.  (A Shameless Promotion – If you have something that you would like to donate to the BSI Trust or would like a Sales List of available Sherlockiana, contact me at dendobry@ptd.net).


What book would you recommend to other Sherlockians?

The Canon:  Baring-Gould’s and Klinger’s Annotated Sherlock Holmes.  Both are essential Sherlockian Bibles.

Doyle Biography:  Dan Stashower’s  A Teller of Tales.  The best, in my opinion, of all the ACD   Biographies.

General Sherlockian/Doylean Facts: Mattias Bostrom’s From Holmes to Sherlock. This remarkable work gives the Holmes’ devotee anything and everything they could ever want to know about our passion.


Where do you see Sherlockiana in 5 or 10 years from now?

I am hopeful and confident that the Sherlockian world will be alive and well in the future.  There will be, as today, a mixture of purely traditional Sherlockians, Sherlockians influenced by non-traditional adaptions & introduced  to the Canon and those enchanted by some media that they may not even realize has a Canonical basis.  I don’t know where the next Benedict Cumberbatch,  Johnny Lee Miller, or Moriarty the Patriot will come from, but I am confident there will be one – Keeping Alive the Memory of the Master! 

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Interesting Interview: Jonathan Tiemann

It's time for another Interesting Interview!  And this week's participant is one of the newest members of The Baker Street Irregulars, Jonathan Tiemann!  As he is a financial manager, it's fitting that his investiture is "The Bank of England."  He's also a historian who knows quite a bit about the Californian Gold Rush, so I'm glad they focused on the financial aspect, or else he could've been named "Working A Claim," "Making His Pile," or some other quote from NOBL.

As a Sherlockian who has lived in different regions of the U.S., Jonathan has a unique position to be able to automatically connect with many folks from different regions.  A pleasant and intelligent guy, I think you'll find this week's interview a delightful one to read.  So let's get to know Jonathan Tiemann!


How do you define the word “Sherlockian”?

Sherlockians start with the Canonical stories, and move out from there. Reading and re-reading them, Sherlockians delight in noticing new details, or making connections, especially with other aspects of Victorian and Edwardian life, and sharing those observations with similarly-obsessed people. That’s the essence of “the game” – seeking new insights and taking pleasure in sharing them.


How did you become a Sherlockian?


I sort of backed into it. My first exposure to Holmes was reading The Hound of the Baskervilles in English class in seventh grade. We also read Treasure Island, and those along with a fair amount of Dickens, Melville, and Mark Twain in high school pretty well hooked me on the literature of the second half of the nineteenth century. I’ve always also enjoyed detective fiction, but I didn’t really go back and read the Canon until after I had completely devoured the Nero Wolfe stories and everything by Dashiell Hammett. The Holmes stories, of course, proved to be the ideal point of intersection between those two literary tastes, and I eventually discovered the world of enthusiasts dedicated to enhancing one another’s enjoyment of all things Sherlockian. 


What is your profession and does that affect how you enjoy being a Sherlockian?


My main field of study was finance, and I’ve had my own independent investment management firm for the past twenty years. So, I’m naturally most attuned to the stories that have a financial element – counterfeiting, securities theft, fraud, that sort of thing. Quite a number of the stories mention in passing some financial element that you might “see, but not observe” unless you’re on the lookout for it. There’s also a surprising amount of financial crime in the Canon, and the other sorts of crimes in many Canonical stories have financial motivations. Since Arthur Conan Doyle was a physician, the amount of financial matter in the Holmes stories seemed surprising to me at first, but as I’ve learned more about Victorian England, I’ve realized that he presented financial matters in ways his audience would have found familiar.


What is your favorite canonical story?


That changes from time to time, but right now it’s “The Adventure of the Stockbroker’s Clerk.” Here a young man lands a prime clerkship at one of the most prestigious firms in The City – The City (of London) is to the British financial markets as Wall Street is to the American – yet he still falls prey to an offer from another quarter that is too good to be true, but too good to refuse. His error opens the way for an attempt at a large theft of securities. The City connection alone is enough to draw me to this particular story. I also like it because while big securities heists were actually rare, they are easy to imagine, and the other main elements of the story, including the scheme appealing to the everyday cupidity of a normal person and even the fraudulent, pop-up office in an out-of-the-way place, resembled features of real swindles in Victorian England.



Who is a specific Sherlockian that you think others would find interesting?


The Sherlockian I would most like to have had the chance to meet would have been Rex Stout, the creator of Nero Wolfe, but I’m afraid it’s a half-century too late for that. But to answer the question you actually asked, I have to nominate Nicholas Meyer. Nick is a film director and screenwriter (his credits include three of the original-cast Star Trek films), and an author. His first Sherlock Holmes pastiche, The Seven Per-Cent Solution, came out about the time I started college, and I recall it as having been enormously popular among my friends. His most recent, The Return of the Pharaoh, came out last year. Nick is always careful to respect the conventions and timelines of the Canon, so his stories extend the Holmes narrative in ways that modern-setting dramatizations do not. Nick also uses his extensive knowledge of literature and music to enliven his creative work – who else could manage to insert a Holmes reference into a Star Trek script?


I also have to mention Candace Lewis. Because her expertise, primarily in art, is so much different from mine, I always learn a great deal from even the briefest interaction with her. For that reason, talking with her stands out in my mind as an example of the pleasures of trading ideas and observations with other Sherlockians. 


What subset of Sherlockiana really interests you?

I suffer from a fascination with the literary tradition of which Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes are part. Edgar Allan Poe and Bret Harte were important antecedents (though Sherlock tweaks Poe a bit in A Study in Scarlet), and of course Conan Doyle has countless literary descendants, from Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, to Dashiell Hammett and Rex Stout, and more. All of these authors wrote for a popular audience, and yet they elevated their stories far enough above the general run of popular culture that we still read, study, and enjoy them.


How do you feel that West Coast Sherlockiana is different from those in the Midwest or East Coast?


I suppose I should have a view on this question, since I grew up in the Midwest, spent about 15 years on the east coast, and have lived for decades in California. So if you’ll permit me to talk out of my hat a bit, I’ll give it a try. I’d say that here on the West Coast, we’re perhaps a bit more likely to regard screen adaptations, especially of Canonical stories, as legitimate Sherlockiana, and we may also lay special emphasis on Conan Doyle’s skill as a storyteller. East coast Sherlockians may take a somewhat more academic approach to Holmes scholarship, and Midwesterners may be more likely to focus a bit more closely on the original text. But there are objections to those views, too. After all, most of the best screen adaptations are British, rather than Californian, productions – re-reading the Canon, I hear Holmes speaking in Jeremy Brett’s voice. And one of the best resources for academic study of Sherlockiana is the Sherlock Holmes collection at the University of Minnesota.



As an amateur historian, how does that influence how you enjoy the Canon?


My chosen topic is economic and financial history. I started by studying banking and finance in Gold Rush California, but soon fell prey to the historian’s most nettlesome question: “Interesting, but I wonder – what happened before this?” The result is that I’ve learned enough about the economic history of the eastern half of the North Pacific Basin to become a tiresome dinner companion. While the Holmes stories take place at least a quarter century after the end of the period I’ve studied most deeply, their economic and technological backdrop feels familiar. The 1850s saw rapid development of steamships, railroads, and telegraphs; by the 1890s they were commonplace. A growing middle class in both Britain and America had disposable income both to buy the Strand magazine and to experience first-hand the temptations and perils of the types of speculations that sometimes figure as plot points in Holmes stories. And, of course, the frequency with which the stories concern fortunes made in India, South Africa, South America, Australia, or even California would have seemed entirely reasonable to English readers at the height of the British Empire.


What book would you recommend to other Sherlockians?

For something a little out of the ordinary, I’d suggest Brian McCuskey, How Sherlock Pulled the Trick: Spiritualism and the Pseudoscientific Method (State College: Penn State University Press) 2021. Some Sherlockians might object to it, as McCuskey’s two-fold thesis both takes on Arthur Conan Doyle’s belief in Victorian spiritualism and argues that Holmes’s reasoning in the stories is not always so watertight as it may seem. He particularly examines Holmes’s apothegm about exhausting possibilities until only one remains. But it’s a fresh look at well-trod ground, and a sufficiently open-minded reader should at least find it thought-provoking. 


Where do you see Sherlockiana in 5 or 10 years from now?


Advancing, I hope. But seriously, we mostly need to keep introducing young people to the pleasures of all things Sherlockian – maybe starting with a movie, or a TV adaptation, but then without wasting too much time moving them on to the Canonical stories themselves, so that Arthur Conan Doyle can do the rest. One event that will fall within the time span in your question is the centennial of Conan Doyle’s passing. Sherlockian societies around the world will surely mark the occasion with events, exhibitions, and conferences of various types, as well we should.


Perhaps a theme for such an event, and perhaps the animating question for Sherlockians in this upcoming period, should be, to whom does Sherlock Holmes belong – not as a matter of intellectual property, but as part of our shared cultural legacy? If Holmes by then belongs to all of us, then how shall we best balance the merits of preserving the original Holmes, as though in amber, with the benefits of cultivating an evergreen Holmes, adapted to the current age? Whatever the answer (and answers will vary and inevitably clash), I do hope we remember to keep listening to the voice from 1895 that still has so much to say to us in 2022, and will still in 2030 and beyond.