Archive for February, 2014

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 Amazon Kindle format, but again are hard to track down as they are not all marked out as part of the actual Oxford Sherlock Holmes collection on Amazon – 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 if you order second-hand copies to stipulate that you 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

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