Holmes Christmas List 2014

It is that time of the year when I look at what might be a welcome gift at Christmas who devotees of the Great Detective.

This year the list is quite short because, although there is a lot of Holmes material about, it is not all of good quality.

221 BBC

221BBC newBack in 1989, the BBC launched a project to record the complete canon with same principal actors, Clive Merrison as Holmes and Michael Williams played my part .

Nine years later they achieved it and, though Williams sadly died in 2001, 16 “Further Adventures” recalling some of my undocumented cases were broadcast with Andrew Sachs taking Williams place.

Bert Coules, the series originator and head writer, has updated his book “221 BBC” chronicling the series.

I have reviewed the book in detail here.

Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

91shhRTkNFL._SX522_Sadly, this complete set of the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes is so far only available in the USA (but it is “region free” so should be viewable in the UK)  and these are just the same transfers as on the DVD but this time they are in High Definition. All the bonus content is exactly the same as on the DVD set including the booklet authored by Richard Valley.

The packaging is very poor, though with a thin cardboard sleeve holding the stack of “digipacs” each holding two discs.

A Sherlock Holmes Monopoly

Monopoly-Cover-LR927It has often been said that London is one of the main characters in my stories about Holmes and this unique book to accompany the standard Monopoly game guides you through the idiosyncrasies of the Monopoly board and explains how the chosen properties relate to the adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

There is a Sherlock Holmes Monopoly Treasure Hunt that you can play by actually visiting the sites featured on the Monopoly board, solving clues as you go. Besides the excitement of buying and selling, the game is a wonderfully entertaining way of exploring London in the footsteps of the master detective.

The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die

images-3

The Museum of London has a new exhibition, form now until next April delving into “the mind of the world’s most famous detective”. I have not yet been to the exhibition but when I do I will be reporting on it here.

In the meantime, this is the official book of the exhibition and it uses the Museum’s collection to highlight the features of the London that Holmes and I inhabit in particular its fogs, Hansom cabs, criminal underworld, famous landmarks and streets.

Sherlock: Chronicles

91cBIh-qAyL._SL1500_With the next series of the BBC Sherlock still at least a year away (there are some rumours that it might be even longer) this book helps to fill the gap.

It’s a comprehensive guide to the BBC series. It contains previously unseen material, interviews with the cast and crew.

It covers each episode in detail and has hundreds of illustrations of  the artwork, photographs, costume and set designs.

 

Elementary – Season Two

elementary-season-2-dvd-cover-49Now into its third season it still seems to me to be a matter of quantity over quality whereas the BBC Sherlock is the opposite but at least we don’t have to wait so long for another story!

Nevertheless it seems to be doing for New York what my original stories did for London and it’s no surprise that it’s very popular in the USA.

Here are the 24 episodes from the second season.

So that’s this year’s Christmas list and it just remains for me to wish all my readers a Very Merry Christmas!

JHW Signature

221 BBC

As those of you who know your radio Holmes and Watson or have read an earlier article of mine on Bert Coules, this is the title of the book Coules wrote about the “world’s only complete dramatised canon and beyond”.

221BBC originalIt has been been out of print for some time having been originally written for the Northern Musgraves, an English Sherlock Holmes group. This original, Musgrave Monograph No.9 was published in 1998 and ran to about 76 pages. The BBC included a revised version as part of their boxed set of the audiocassettes of the complete original broadcast canon. But these eventually ran out.

Towards the end of 2011 Coules was approached by the Wessex Press to produce an updated version for their Sherlock Holmes publications (Gasogene Books) and this has now been published.

Anyone who might not have heard of Coules can listen to two podcasts from I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere (Episode 68 and 69) where his knowledge of Holmes and Watson and especially of their history on radio even manages to put the knowledgeable hosts of the show right on a couple of points. Another interesting point that Coules makes is that he sees my stories as “stories about a detective and not detective stories”, exactly the same view as that held by Gatiss and Moffat, the creators of the BBC Sherlock series.

221BBC newThe new, revised and expanded 221 BBC book now runs to nearly 300 pages.

Following a foreword by Clive Merrison, who played Holmes throughout the series and an introduction to the new edition from Bert Coules, it starts off with a wonderfully detailed history of Holmes and Watson on the radio and weaves into this how Coules became involved at the BBC.

He then takes us through the casting and production of The Hound of the Baskervilles with Roger Rees as Holmes and Crawford Logan as me which was broadcast in two hour-long episodes in May and June 1988.

Following the success of this production the BBC decided to produce the whole Canon but with new leads. Clive Merrison was to be Holmes and Michael Williams was to take on my role.  A Study In Scarlet and The Sign of the Four (note the “correct” title) were also broadcast each in two hour-long episodes in November and December 1989.

The books takes us through The Adventures, The Memoirs, The Return, His Last Bow, The Casebook and The Valley of Fear before re-recording The Hound of the Baskervilles using a new script with Merrison and Williams.

Interesting in the script for The Lion’s Mane that Coules has come up with an explanation of the incorrect spelling of “lama” in The Empty House. I could write a book myself on the problems Arthur and I had with The Strand.

The idea of writing radio plays around some of the cases I had mentioned but not detailed as part of the Canon had occurred to Coules before the Canon was completed but by the time it became a reality, Michael Williams had sadly died. Andrew Sachs picked up my role from there and 16 Further Adventures were produced. The book covers these before rounding off with the script of The Abergavenny Murder (a case I mentioned in The Priory School) and cast and broadcast details of all the broadcasts.

The podcasts from I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere mentioned above add to the information in the book and the presenters praise Coules for the way he handled the individual stories adding material where it was necessary to support radio broadcasts. Coules has a stage play based on The Lion’s Mane and would love to produce a television series setting my stories back in their original Victorian setting.

Meanwhile, the complete Sherlock Holmes Radio Collection and the Further Adventures are available on Amazon in the UK and USA but mainly as the separate series – the complete sets are now difficult to find.

Discovering Sherlock Holmes

Screenshot 2014-10-31 13.10.08Stanford University is located between San Francisco and San Jose in California and is one of the world’s leading teaching and research universities. Its Victorian Reading Project has produced facsimiles of serialized 19th-century novels and stories from Stanford University Library’s Special Collections including some of my stories about Holmes as published in The Strand.

Fifteen short stories and The Hound of the Baskervilles (in nine parts) have been produced each with accompanying notes plus a general introduction and bibliography. These were produced in 2006 and 2007 and no more have been produced since.

Contents

Introduction (these link to the Stanford University website)

Short Stories (these have been downloaded from the Stanford University website)

  1. A Scandal In Bohemia
  2. The Speckled Band
  3. The Final Problem
  4. The Empty House
  5. Silver Blaze
  6. The Musgrave Ritual
  7. The Reigate Squire
  8. The Greek Interpreter
  9. Charles Augustus Milverton
  10. The Abbey Grange
  11. The Second Stain
  12. The Bruce-Partington Plans
  13. The Devil’s Foot
  14. The Dying Detective
  15. His Last Bow

The Hound of the Baskervilles

 “Stanford” is not to be confused with “Stamford”, who had been a dresser under me at Barts, and was responsible for introducing me to Sherlock Holmes . . .

 

 

 

Dr Watson, I presume

OCRTSomewhat surprisingly I have never before met any of the actors who have portrayed me in the films, television and radio programmes that have been produced covering our adventures. So it was a lovely surprise when some dear friends arranged a little dinner party with the man who plays me in the excellent Old Court Radio Theatre Company productions produced for the Sherlock Holmes Society of London.

Jim Crozier as Holmes and David Hawkes as my good self have now appeared in sixteen stories that are available for free on the Sherlock Holmes Society website and via iTunes.

The individual stories and their links are:

  1. The Gloria Scott
  2. Wisteria Lodge
  3. The Mazarin Stone
  4. The Veiled Lodger
  5. The Yellow Face
  6. The Three Students
  7. The Beryl Coronet
  8. The Speckled Band
  9. Shoscombe Old Place
  10. The Five Orange Pips
  11. The Man With Watches
  12. The Lost Special
  13. The Strange Case of Miss Alice Faulkner – Part One – The Napoleon of Crime
  14. The Strange Case of Miss Alice Faulkner – Part Two – The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes
  15. The Long Man
  16. The Grace Chalice

The first ten of these plays are based on my reminiscences from the Canon. The Man With Watches and The Lost Special were published in The Strand about five years after Holmes disappeared over the Reichenbach Falls. The Long Man and The Grace Chalice are accounts of two unpublished cases.

The complete set is available free on iTunes and can be bought on CD from The Sherlock Holmes Society of London.

. . . and how did the evening with the two Watsons go? Well, I think we both learned a lot about the real Watson!

The Martyrdom of Man

During The Sign of Four, Holmes recommended a book to me, Winwood Reade’s Martyrdom of Man, saying that it was “one of the most remarkable ever penned”.

At the time I was preoccupied, having just met Mary Morstan for the first time, and I remember sitting in the window with the volume in my hand, but my thoughts were far from the daring speculations of the writer.

My mind ran upon Mary’s smiles, the deep, rich tones of her voice, the strange mystery which overhung her life. I mused, until such dangerous thoughts came into my head that I hurried away to my desk and plunged furiously into the latest treatise on pathology. What was I, an Army surgeon with a weak leg and a weaker bank account, that I should dare to think of such things?

I have never given the Winwood Reade’s book another look but here I have a copy of it which you can read if you wish.

Later in that adventure, when we were close on heels of our quarry, Holmes referred to Winwood Reade again saying that “He remarks that, while the individual man is an insoluble puzzle, in the aggregate he becomes a mathematical certainty. You can, for example, never foretell what any one man will do, but you can say with precision what an average number will be up to. Individuals vary, but percentages remain constant. So says the statistician.”

I was, and remain, none the wiser.

The Oxford Sherlock Holmes

Setting aside for the moment the question of whether Holmes went to Oxford, or Cambridge, or both, the Oxford Sherlock Holmes has been my favourite “annotated” collection of my stories for many years.

The original set of nine volumes is now not available new but second hand copies are still around.

Some of the volumes were republished later as paperbacks but I have yet to secure all nine volumes in this format.  To further confuse matters, some of the volumes are available in Kindle editions, but again are hard to track down as they are not all marked out as part of the Oxford Sherlock Holmes collection – you have to scan through the sample pages looking for the required details.

To help, I have compiled the following list to help anyone trying to buy the set or add to their existing collection. But please take care when ordering second-hand copies to stipulate that your require the Oxford Sherlock Holmes editions as these are the annotated versions. A well-meaning but unaware bookseller (I did once bump into a particularly wizened example whom I later discovered to be Holmes in disguise) may send you another version without the detailed notes.  Those that are available are listed below and the links lead to them in the Amazon catalogue with the ISBN for books and ASIN for Kindle versions.

If anyone can help me fill in the gaps above, the ISBNs or ASINs would suffice, then I would be most grateful. It is quite a little detective piece in its own right . . .

The Man Who “Bested” Sherlock Holmes

I am indebted to Matthias Bostrom, who, via his writings, drew my attention to the problem of an early pastiche of a Sherlock Holmes story.

Many have assumed that Sir Arthur’s close friend, J M Barrie, produced the first “parody” of a Holmes story, but Charles Press, in his book “Parodies and Pastiches Buzzing ‘Round Sir Arthur Conan Doyle” mentioned “The Man Who ‘Bested’ Sherlock Holmes” as having been first published in Tit Bits on October 27th 1894. The story is included in John Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green’s book “My Evening with Sherlock Holmes”.

Mr Bostrom had managed to find an earlier publication of the same story in a Northern provincial newspaper. That paper was the “Express and Advertiser” which is now known as the “Burnley Express”.Burnex

This itself is a remarkable coincidence, as my Literary Agent hails from the very same town! So I set him the task of tracking down the paper, published in December 1892, and obtaining a copy of the story for my library. It has taken him a while but I now have a copy of the story.

The newspaper boasts about “Our Almanac and Special Christmas Number”, saying that “Next Saturday every purchaser of the Express will be presented with a splendid local almanac, produced regardless of cost. It will be printed on excellent toned and specially-prepared paper, in two colours,and will be embellished with excellent portraits of Sir John and Lady Thursby with a capital view of Ormerod House.”

Sir John Thursby was well-known to people in Burnley and gives his name to a college in the town.

The paper goes on to say that “the almanac will contain a vast amount of useful local and district information, and will prove the best ever presented by any paper in North – East Lancashire. Next Saturday’s Express will contain, in addition to the fullest local and district news and the regular features, the following entertaining Christmas reading :—

“Owd Nick and Scotch Snuff,” a laughable Lancashire Sketch by the Editor of Ben Brierley’s Journal,

“A Pendle Forest Christmastide Story of the Forty-Five” by Henry Kerr.

and “The Man Who Bested Sherlock Holmes” by Joseph Baron.

The paper also says that “Dr. Conan Doyle has gone through the manuscript of this story, and emphatically pronounced it “good”.

Well, see what you think . . .The Man Who Bested Sherlock Holmes

Watson’s Christmas Letter 1893

This is the third Christmas without Holmes following the tragic events of May 1891.

Although Holmes was never one to be sentimental about Christmas we would when we shared rooms at 221B Baker Street always mark the occasion with one of Mrs Hudson’s splendid feasts.

Even when following my marriage and subsequent start in private practice the very intimate relations which had existed between Holmes and myself had become to some extent modified I would still see him from time to time when he desired a companion in his investigations.

Although I have only published records of three cases in 1890 (A Case of Identity, The Copper Beeches, and The Red-Headed League) the case I referred to under the ominous title of The Final Problem was, although I did not know it, to be our last case together and now, over two years since those fateful events, I have had my hand forced by Moriarty’s brother, and I have laid the facts before the public exactly as they occurred.

My close intimacy with Sherlock Holmes had interested me deeply in crime, and after his disappearance, I never failed to read with care the various problems which came before the public and I even attempted more than once for my own private satisfaction to employ his methods in their solution, though with indifferent success.

As Christmas 1893 approaches, I wish you all the best for 1894 in the hope that there will be an end to the attacks upon him whom I shall ever regard as the best and wisest man whom I have ever known.

JHW Signature

Holmes Christmas List 2013

About this time every year, as the shops start to fill up with Christmas gifts, I take a look at what’s new for those who follow Holmes’s adventures.

Sherlock 2014 CalendarFirst on my list is the “official” Sherlock calendar for 2014.

Also, tied in to the BBC Series, the BBC has been publishing sets of my stories with interesting forewords by those involved with the BBC series. On December 5th, two more volumes will be added to the series.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes with an introduction by Mark Gatiss (in which he explains how “Sherlock in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms”) and includes “The Empty House” on which the opening episode of Series 3 is based.Return

BowHis Last Bow with an introduction by Steven Moffatt (who expects Sir Arthur to ask him to write another story!) includes the last case we worked on together.

It would be nice idea to complete the series with a boxed set containing all nine books (the four novels and the five sets of short stories).

glass

 

By the way, if you want one of the neat little magnifying glasses that Sherlock uses they are still available.

Later in December (the 23rd, though I do not understand why we have had to wait so long) is the DVD of the first series (my American readers call them “seasons”) of Elementary. I have yet to see any of these though I have become intrigued as I have read The Woman’s reviews on this site so I am looking forward to acquiring this set. PILOT

To go with this DVD, there is an unofficial guide, The Immortals,  to both Elementary and the BBC Sherlock written by Matthew J Elliott, himself a proficient adaptor of my stories for the radio.immortals

garmentMary Russell released her latest set of memoirs, A Garment of Shadows, earlier this year. Also available, as ebooks are three little “monographs”, the first of which, Beekeeping for Beginners, details how Russell met Holmes. The second, Sherlock Holmes, written by Russell’s literary agent, gives some insights into Holmes, and me for that matter! The third, Mrs Hudson’s Case, harks back to shortly after Russell’s initial encounter with Holmes and how the redoubtable Mrs Hudson solves a case on her own.

newannotatedFor those wanting to delve deeper into the Canon, Leslie Klinger’s New Annotated Sherlock Holmes is now available on the Kindle, putting less strain on their handling than the original weighty tomes. Volume 1 and Volume 2 cover the complete set of fifty six short stories. Volume 3, which covers the novels, is not yet available on the Kindle but should soon be.

mrshudsonsdiariesIn a lighter vein and again with reference to Mrs Hudson (“I am not your housekeeper”) is a unique insight to life at 221B Baker Street from her diaries that have been found (apparently) in “battered biscuit tin” found in the vaults of the same bank where my “battered tin dispatch box” also resides.

shgamejpgFinally, “the game is afoot” with a new board game with ten cases for you to solve as one of the Baker Street Irregulars.

Plenty to keep you busy until Sherlock returns in “The Empty Hearse” after Christmas. I could drop a few clues here – tea, bus, ball – some of which or none of which may turn out to be true.

A very merry Christmas to all my readers!

JHW Signature

The Watson Files

“A century after Holmes and Watson’s adventures together in London, their grandchildren, Spencer Holmes and Jack Watson, experienced their own adventures. As his grandfather did Jack Watson often kept notes about these adventures and has decided to share them with the world. These are his stories…”

So begins the series of stories from Strobie Studios in Eastern Iowa with Michael Helgens as Spencer Holmes and Greg Kilberger as Dr Watson.

The stories usually last between 10 and 15 minutes and follow the same format as Rathbone and Bruce’s “The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”. The host, Craig Dahlen, goes to visit Watson each week to hear him relate one of the stories. The shows are very atmospheric, complete with gunshots that will make you jump if you’re not expecting them. Some characterisations are peculiarly American which takes a little time to get used to.

Season 1

In the first season of  21 episodes there were two from the Canon, “The Dying Detective” and “The Red-Headed League” – both expertly done. We meet a certain mathematical genius called Professor Marty and Lestrade has become Officer Weathers and Mrs Hudson … well, I will leave you to work that one out!

  1. The Missing Cat
  2. The Locked Room
  3. The Dying Detective
  4. The Cunning Thief
  5. The Strange Case of the Underwater Fire
  6. The Headless Ghost
  7. The Case of the Red Light Ripper – Part 1
  8. The Case of the Red Light Ripper – Part 2
  9. The Adventure of the Red-Headed League
  10. The Poisoning of Juliet
  11. The Beginning
  12. The Case of the Stolen Manuscripts
  13. The Case of the Fatal Premonition
  14. The Case of the Missing Reporter
  15. The Case of the Tacky Lipstick
  16. The Case of the Stolen Teddy Bear
  17. The Purloined Letter
  18. The Inferior Liver
  19. The Viral Video
  20. The Assassination of the Scots – Season Finale Part 1
  21. The Riddling Henchman – Season Finale Part 2

The complete set of Season 1 episodes is available from Nimbit Music along with a few bonus recordings including outtakes!

Season 2

In the second series there were again two stories from the Canon – “The Hound of the Baskervilles” and “The Empty House”.

  1. The Hound of the Baskervilles – Season Premiere Part 1
  2. The Hound of the Baskervilles – Season Premiere Part 2
  3. The Return of the Ripper
  4. The Secret in the Narwhal
  5. The Case of the Flying Pig
  6. The Kidnapping of Jennifer Watson
  7. The Adventure of Ancient Antiquity
  8. The Case of the Killer Cave
  9. The Adventure of Alien Abduction
  10. The Adventure of the Empty House
  11. The Case of the Combustible Comedian
  12. The Twenty Million Dollar Mistake
  13. The Case of the Missing Case
  14. The Continuing Saga of the Missing Case
  15. The Case of the Drugged Doctor
  16. The Pursuit of Professor Marty
  17. The Continued Pursuit of Professor Marty
  18. The Billion Dollar Blunder
  19. The Zoo Escapade
  20. The Case of the Missing Smell
  21. The Explosive Trial – Season Finale

Season 3

Again two stories from the Canon – “A Scandal in Bohemia” and “The Speckled Band”.

  1. A Scandal in Bohemia – Season Premiere Part 1
  2. A Scandal in Bohemia – Season Premiere Part 2
  3. The Case of the Smoking Ghost
  4. A Little Cheese with Your Wine
  5. The Case of the Mummy’s Curse
  6. The Case of the Crazy Millionaire
  7. The Case of the Cold Case
  8. The Speckled Band – Part 1
  9. The Speckled Band – Part 2
  10. Two Funerals and a Wedding
  11. Murder in the Viper’s Nest
  12. It’s All Fun and Games – Part 1
  13. It’s All Fun and Games – Part 2
  14. The Case of the Questionable Merger
  15. The Quest for Excalibur – Part 1
  16. The Quest for Excalibur – Part 2
  17. The Quest for Excalibur – Part 3
  18. The Case of the Mirror Twin
  19. The Case of Low Mileage
  20. Capturing Moran – Season Finale Part 1
  21. Capturing Moran – Season Finale Part 2

Season 4

Another two stories from the Canon in this series “The Musgrave Ritual” and “The Cardboard Box” plus a behind the scenes video of a third “The Red-Headed League” from Season 1.

  1. The Case of the Dental Alarm
  2. The Return of Frankenstein
  3. The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual
  4. The Case of the Railroad Murders – Part 1
  5. The Case of the Railroad Murders – Part 2
  6. The Harker’s Landing Whale Preservation Society – Part 1
  7. The Harker’s Landing Whale Preservation Society – Part 2
  8. The Case of the Impossible Shot
  9. The Strange Case of the Does
  10. The Deadly Recipe
  11. The Strange Case of E. Edmond Montebank
  12. Max Noir
  13. The Adventure of the Cardboard Box
  14. The Magic Bullet
  15. A Swift Caper
  16. The Return of the Governor
  17. A Case of Mistaken Identity
  18. The Death of Holmes
  19. The Case of the Questionable Mummy
  20. The Succubus Adventure

Season 4 episodes are available on the Strobie Studios web site, via Facebook, YouTube and iTunes. Only a few of the Season 1, Season 2 and Season 3 episodes remain available online.

Strobie Studios can also be followed on Twitter. Along with the studio’s commercial work (which is well worth a look) they have recorded some of Edgar Allan Poe’s work and a time travel saga called “The Ark of Time”.

No new adventures so far this year . . . 

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