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.


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 (these have been downloaded from the Stanford University website)

 “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 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

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).



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 . . . 


The Woman finally wraps up her reviews of Season One

Elementary 22 – Risk Management

I should start my review of this episode by mentioning that when I saw Natalie Dormer was to be joining the cast of Elementary, I was delighted although I hate spoilers. I have seen her in The Tudors and of course the epic Game of Thrones and was very pleased that she would be joining the cast. I however, completely ignored that I had seen no mention of anyone being cast as Moriarty…

This episode actually goes back to the dull writing that we have seen throughout this series at times, although it might have been because we were all waiting for that scene. You could just fast forward to the end and have the episode all tied up really. Basically Moriarty is playing with Sherlock and it all leads to a mansion where of course she sits painting…

Elementary Episode 22The Woman. She isn’t dead. Also JLM’s performance of seeing her alive made me get a bit teary and a massive throat gulp happened. Yes she’s alive!

Episode 23/24 – The Woman/The Heroine

With Irene back on the scene, Sherlock is mainly AWOL from detective work and Watson takes the lead throughout. Through flashbacks we see Irene and Sherlock in London together and how in love and also blind to anything Sherlock is. The same seems to be the case now as Sherlock cannot believe that he has Irene back but does not seem at all to be wary of how this all really happened. It’s a basic love story but missing the whole criminal side of the woman and the detective side of the man… Bit weird really.

Now as this review is super, super late and everyone knows. Irene Adler and Moriarty are the same person in this Elementary series, at the time I hadn’t seen it coming AT ALL. I was on heavy ‘avoid all spoilers’ and I was a bit annoyed that I had found that Dormer was joining the cast. I really liked the way Dormer handled these two massive roles and particularly her voice change really was wow.  Dormer is English and the American accent that she had in the first half of the finale was indeed all an act. When her beautiful British accent came through it became believable that she was indeed two people.

With Watson still doing her detective work she had worked on a way to ‘smoke out’ Moriarty using Sherlock’s drug problems. The fake overdose that seemed so real to you and I because this was how much Sherlock loved Irene, and it had been well documented how his life had derailed before with drugs – a lie and Moriarty was caught. I particularly enjoyed the final scene with Sherlock and Watson and how he named a bee after her. They have been on some journey and he knows that Watson is the one he trusts and she also can trust in him too.

Overall Review of the First Season

ElementaryJonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu have both kept this programme going through some rather wayward storylines at times. JLM is a very different Sherlock to what I have previously seen before and he has handled the role as I had expected him to. I’m intrigued to see where they take Elementary from here. I think everyone was cast perfectly throughout the series, even Detective Bell who I previously had disliked a bit had started to win me round.

The best casting because of the major twist was Natalie Dormer BUT I have to also give credit (unbelievably) to Vinnie Jones, his portrayal of Moran was very good. But he is quite a scary, henchman type isn’t he? Some of the episodes throughout the run have been far superior to others and there have also been some episodes to miss. Episode 22 is sadly one of them, except for the big reveal ending. I felt at times possibly due to the uncertain nature of how long a series we would get or whether there would be another season, that they tried to tie up too many loose ends all the time and they didn’t seem to do it very well either.

I have written many times through these reviews and on twitter about not comparing Elementary to the BBC’s Sherlock which I believe I did not do. But I did compare it to other crime dramas that I have watched and whilst it wouldn’t be my pick of a crime drama from choice, it still could have the possibility to get there.

Lastly, the reveal – we have to talk about it. Whilst avoiding all the spoilers going into the final two episodes I’ll admit I was surprised, not shocked by the decision just surprised. Already they had given the Watson role to a woman and now Irene and Moriarty were the same person? Nope. Never saw that coming. It was a brave and some say ridiculous decision but I thought it was in keeping with what Elementary had set out from the start, they were not BBC Sherlock’s twin. They would both co-exist but Elementary would be different, it achieved that and more.

But I know people who *shock horror* have never read the Canon who seemed quite taken aback when I told them that in the books it was not like that. “Oh really, I might have to read them then”

Elementary finale scene beesLooking forward to where Season Two brings us with Moriarty behind bars but for how long? Will those bees really be happy on top of that roof? Will Sherlock reward himself with a new tattoo?

Elementary Season Two should be back around October this year. Meanwhile we are still awaiting a release date for the DVD here in the UK. In the USA it is available from August 27th.

Sherlock Holmes – The Best Kept Secret

BCS 1I have lost count of the number of books, plays, films and games that purport to disclose a previously hidden fact about my colleague (shades of BBC Sherlock there) Holmes. Google has over twenty million references to such secrets – has anyone realised that Google is the ultimate commonplace book?

So when I go to see “Sherlock Holmes – The Best Kept Secret” then I know it cannot be so. When the cast list includes Irene Adler, my suspicions are aroused. Moriarty does not appear in the cast list but, apart from The Woman, he is the worst kept secret. Putting them together is therefore no surprise (the second Robert Downey Jr film did just that) and potentially a little yawn inducing.

The first few minutes of anything like this are quite a challenge for the writer. How does he (or she) introduce the characters that are so well known but maybe not from my original stories but from the latest screen incarnation – Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman or Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Lui? Some people may think I am a woman!

BCS 2So here we have Jason Durr as Holmes and Andrew Hall as me – Hartbeat meets Coronation Street – but we also have Lestrade (Victor McGuire from Goodnight Sweetheart) and Mycroft (Adrian Lukis who was also in Heartbeat and, as was informed by my companion for the evening, Peak Practice, though I never warm to medical dramas for obvious reasons).

We hear of Moriarty and we actually hear Mrs Hudson but never see either of them.

So then, none of this is new, and when Adler appears (the stunning Tanya Franks who certainly eclipses many women) I am beginning to wonder why I bothered to stray from my cosy London nest this far north.

But as Act One unfolds I start to recognise this Holmes as the troubled person he became during The Final Problem and the different person that came back from The Falls. I am portrayed, as often, as the willing companion who occasionally puts a foot wrong, perhaps a little too Nigel Bruce in this case.

The writer only made one mistake that I noted. The story is supposed to have been set in the gap between The Final Problem and The Empty House but it must have been later than that. There is a reference to those words Holmes spoke to me when I was shot by Killer Evans in The Three Garridebs – “You’re not hurt, Watson? For God’s sake, say that you are not hurt! This was many years after his return from the Falls.

What was achieved though was through some pure stage magic, some clever prestidigitation that was almost worthy of the cinema and very well executed in a provincial theatre.

BCS 3Three performances were outstanding, Jason Durr has a remarkable range that he used to good effect to move from lethargic to energetic Holmes (with a little madness on the way) that had elements of both Brett and Cumberbatch. Adrian Lukis as Holmes brother Mycroft gave depth to character that we see very little of in most productions (and too much of in the second Downey Jr film). Finally, The Woman steals the show, not least for her appearance in Holmes drug-induced delerium that certainly made half of the audience pay close attention.

I will not give away any of the plot except to note that it builds up through the two acts to a dramatic climax. I came away pleasantly suprised and wanting to see it again to make sure I did not miss any of the twists and turns through this intriguing plot. But it has finished its run in the North and we must now wait for it to reappear in the West End.



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