1st May, 5 Comments
By John Watson
With the British Film Institute’s release of a 4-DVD set of the BBC TV’s Sherlock Holmes series from the 1950s, now is a good time to review Douglas Wilmer’s portrayal of Holmes alongside Nigel Stock’s portrayal of me (which he continued alongside Peter Cushing’s Holmes on television in the 1960’s).
Wilmer is regarded by some as one of the best portrayers of Holmes and certainly watching these again for the first time in many years it is easy to understand why his Holmes is so widely revered. Let us not forget that he was assisted by a very good Watson in Nigel Stock who went on to play opposite Peter Cushing in the later BBC series.
Wilmer first appeared as Holmes in a the first of three BBC series entitled “Detective” appearing between 1965 and 1969. Each episode of this series introduced by Rupert Davies as the BBC was keen to follow up on the successful “Maigret” series. This “pilot” was “The Speckled Band” 50 minute broadcast on May 18th, 1964 at 9:25pm on BBC One and was the third in the first of the three “Detective” series.
- The Speckled Band (Pilot)
- The Illustrious Client (with optional audio commentary)
- The Devil’s Foot (with optional audio commentary)
This disc also contains the following extras:
- Spanish Audio Version of The Speckled Band (for overseas sales to be dubbed onto the video)
- Alternative Titles for The Illustrious Client (again for overseas screening and featuring Peter Wyngarde)
- The Copper Beeches
- The Red-Headed League (with optional audio commentary)
- The Abbey Grange (with optional audio commentary)
The Abbey Grange is a partial reconstruction as the picture and sound from the first reel is missing. Wilmer reads from my original story, with some adaptations to suit the screenplay, and then resumes the original broadcast after Holmes and I return to the Abbey Grange following our discussion about the “incident of the wine glasses”.
- The Six Napoleons
- The Man With The Twisted Lip
- The Beryl Coronet
- The Bruce-Partington Plans
In The Beryl Coronet the villain, Sir George Burnwell, is played by a young David Burke, who was Watson to Jeremy Brett’s Holmes in Granada’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
Only the first reel of The Bruce-Partington Plans exists and so the second half is sound only.
- Charles Augustus Milverton (with optional audio commentary)
- The Retired Colourman
- The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax
This disc also carries an interview with Wilmer “Douglas Wilmer . . . On Television” from 2012 which gives insight into how he decided to play Holmes and why some of the scripts he regarded as “disgraceful”.
The DVD set is accompanied by a booklet comprising:
- An introduction to the Sherlock Holmes stories and their appearance on stage and screen by Nicholas Utechin
- An interview with Douglas Wilmer by Elaine McCafferty
- An introduction to the BBC TV series that starred Wilmer as Holmes (by Jonathan McCafferty)
- A guide to the thirteen episodes on the disks
- A note about the restoration of the episodes by Peter Crocker
Wilmer has also produced his autobiography – Stage Whispers – which was launched at The Sherlock Holmes Society of London’s meeting in March 2009.
Wilmer appeared in a cameo role as a member of The Diogenes Club in the BBC Sherlock “The Reichenbach Fall”.
You will need to read the accompanying booklet to find out about the ambulance crew that attended Sherlock Holmes . . .
Posted in Television
20th February, No Comments
By John Watson
Whilst the arguments rage over who wrote this (it certainly wasn’t me which could account for the style and typographical and other errors) here is the text gleaned from the pamphlet for you to ponder over . . .
To me it seems that it was written either by Doyle or someone else but that the character describes here as me (Watson) is, in fact Doyle who is thinking about his future political stance at the Border Burghs.
DISCOVERING THE BORDER BURGHS,
and, BY DEDUCTION, the BRIG BAZAAR
‘We’ve had enough of the old romancists and men of travel’, said the Editor. As he blue-pencilled his copy, and made arrangements for the great Saturday edition of the Bazaar Book. ‘We want something up-to-date. Why not have a word from “Sherlock Holmes”?’
Editors have only to speak and it is done, at least, they think so. ‘Sherlock Holmes!’ As well talk of interviewing the Man in the Moon. But it does not do to tell Editors all that you think. I had no objections whatever, I assured the Editor, to buttonhole ‘Sherlock Holmes,’ but to do so I should have to go to London.
‘London!’ scornfully sniffed the Great Man. ‘And you profess to be a journalist? Have you never heard of the telegraph, the telephone, or the phonograph? Go to London! And are you not aware that all journalists are supposed to be qualified members of the Institute of Fiction, and to be qualified to make use of the Faculty of Imagination? By the use of the latter men have been interviewed, who were hundreds of miles away; some have been “interviewed” without either knowledge or consent. See that you have a topical article ready for the press for Saturday. Good-day.’
I was dismissed and had to find copy by hook or by crook. Well, the Faculty of Imagination might be worth a trial.
. . .
The familiar house in Sloan Street met my bewildered gaze. The door shut, the blinds drawn. I entered; doors are no barrier to one who uses the Faculty of Imagination. The soft light from an electric bulb flooded the room. ‘Sherlock Holmes’ sits by the side of the table; Dr Watson is on his feet about to leave for the night. Sherlock Holmes, as has lately been shown by a prominent journal, is a pronounced Free Trader. Dr Watson is a mild Protectionist, who would take his gruelling behind a Martello tower, as Lord Goschen wittily put it, but not ‘lying down!’ The twain had just finished a stiff argument on Fiscal policy. Holmes loq.–
‘And when shall I see you again, Watson? The inquiry into the “mysteries of the Secret Cabinet” will be continued in Edinburgh on Saturday. Do you mind a run down to Scotland? You would get some capital data which you might turn to good account later.’
‘I am very sorry,’ replied Dr Watson. ‘I should have liked to have gone with you, but a prior engagement prevents me. I will, however, have the pleasure of being in kindly Scottish company that day. I, also, am going to Scotland.’
‘Ah! then you are going to the Border country at that time?’
‘How do you know that?’
‘My dear Watson, it’s all a matter of deduction.’
‘Will you explain?’
‘Well, when a man becomes absorbed in a certain theme, the murder will out some day. In many discussions you and I have on the fiscal question from time to time I have not failed to notice that you have taken up an attitude antagonistic to a certain school of thought, and on several occasions you have commented on the passing of “so-called’ reforms, as you describe them, which you say were not the result of a spontaneous movement from or by the people, but solely due to the pressure of the Manchester School of politicians appealing to the mob. One of these allusions you made a peculiar reference to “Huz an’ Mainchester” who had “turned the world upside down.” The word “Huz” stuck to me, but after consulting many authors without learning anything as to the source of the word, I one day in reading a provincial paper noticed the same expression, which the writer said was descriptive of the way Hawick people looked at the progress of Reform. “Huz an’ Mainchester’ led the way. So, thought I, Watson has a knowledge of Hawick. I was still further confirmed in this idea by hearing you in several absent moments crooning a weird song of the Norwegian God Thor. Again I made enquires, and writing to a friend in the Sounth country I procured a copy of “Teribus.” So, I reasoned, so – there’s something in the air! What attraction has Hawick for Watson?’
‘Wonderful,’ Watson said, ‘and—‘
‘Yes, and when you characterised the action of the German Government in seeking to hamper Canadian trade by raising her tariff wall against her, as a case of “Sour Plums,” and again in a drawing room asked a mutual lady friend to sing you that fine old song, “Braw, braw lads,” I was curious enough to look up the old ballad, and finding it had reference to a small town near to Hawick, I began to see a ray of daylight. Hawick had a place in your mind; likewise so had Galashiels – so much was apparent. The question to be decided was why?’
‘So far so good. And—‘
‘Later still the plot deepened. Why, when I was retailing to you the steps that led up to the arrest of the Norwood builder by the impression of his thumb, I found a very great surprise that you were not listening at all to my reasoning, but were lilting a very sweet–a very sweet tune Watson–“The Flowers of the Forest;” then I in turn consulted an authority on the subject, and found that that lovely if tragic song had a special reference to Selkirk. And you remember, Watson, how very enthusiastic you grew all of a sudden on the subject of Common-Ridings, and how much you studied the history of James IV., with special reference to Flodden Field. All these things speak, Watson, to the orderly brain of a thinker. Hawick, Galashiels, and Selkirk. What did the combination mean? I felt I must sold the problem, Watson; so that night when you left me, after we had discussed the “Tragedy of a Divided House,” I ordered in a tin of tobacco, wrapped my cloak about me, and spent the night in thought. When you came round in the morning the problem was solved. I could not on the accumulative evidence but come to the conclusion that you contemplated another Parliamentary contest. Watson, you have the Border Burghs in your eye!’
‘In my heart, Holmes,’ said Watson.
‘And where do you travel to on Saturday, Watson?’
‘I am going to Selkirk; I have an engagement there to open a Bazaar.’
‘Is it in aid of a Bridge, Watson?’
‘Yes,’ replied Watson in surprise; ‘but how do you know? I have never mentioned the matter to you.’
‘By word, no; but by your action you have revealed the bent of your mind.’
‘Let me explain. A week ago you came round to my rooms and asked for a look at “Macaulay’s Lays of Ancient Rome.” (You know I admire Macaulay’s works, and have a full set.) That volume, after a casual look at, you took with you. When you returned it a day or two later I noticed it was marked with a slip of paper at the “Lay of Horatius,” and I detected a faint pencil mark on the slip noting that the closing stanza was very appropriate. As you know, Watson, the lay is all descriptive of the keeping of a bridge. Let me remind you how nicely you would perorate –
When the goodman mends his armour
And trims his helmet’s plume,
When the goodwife’s shuttle merrily
Goes flashing through the loom,
With weeping and with laughter.
Still the story told —
How well Horatius kept the bridge,
In the brave days of old.
Could I, being mortal, help thinking you were bent on such exploit yourself?’
‘Well, goodbye, Watson; shall be glad of your company after Saturday. Remember Horatius’ words when you go to Border Burghs :- “How can man die better than facing fearful odds.” But there, these words are only illustrations. Safe journey, and success to the Brig!’
Posted in Pastiches
2nd February, 2 Comments
By John Watson
When I wrote the series of articles covering my great friend and colleague on the British Radio (Part 1, Part 2) I had not appreciated that the BBC had been broadcasting programmes concerning Holmes from as early as 1929 – almost from the start of their broadcasting.
This new series of articles will trace programmes about Holmes from the early days of radio broadcasting by the BBC through to when Holmes first appeared on BBC television to the latest Sherlock series.
In fact, the first programme that I can trace was on the BBC’s 5XX Daventry radio service. This service began broadcasting on 15 December 1924 and ended on 8 March.
On December 4th, 1929 at 9.20pm BBC 5 XX Daventry and BBC London 2LO broadcast one of a series of “Miniature Biographies” (there appear to have been seven in total) in which Desmond MacCarthy presented a biography of yours truly in which he refers to me as “the obtuse and innocent Watson . . . of the intermittent practice and brown moustache, with his never-failing bewilderment and his misdirected zeal . . . the homeliest character in the literature of crime”.
MacCarthy was a well-known literary critic of his time and was also well-known for analysing what he saw as chronological problems in the cases of Holmes that I have documented. In my own defence, I must state that that I was sometimes careless in recording the actual dates of events in these cases, sometimes to help protect the privacy of the persons involved, but often simply because I thought it more important to record the problems themselves, and Holmes use of deduction in resolving them, than worrying about what day or date it was.
James Edward Holroyd, in his Seventeen Steps to 221B, included MacCarthy’s essay entitled “Dr Watson” that may well have been the basis of this biography which he states is “forthcoming and profusely illustrated”. However, I can find no trace of such a book.
Also included in Holroyd’s collection is Bernard Davies attempt to resolve the mystery of the true location of 221b which comes very close to the truth!
But, back to the radio!
The next programme was on September 24th, 1934 at 8pm when the BBC Regional Programme broadcast a “Scrapbook for 1910” which it describes as “a microphone medley”.
Included is an item entitled “Sherlock Holmes and the Speckled Band” and Norman Shelley was one of ‘those heard in this programme’ (he was, in the future to play me alongside Carleton Hobbs’ Holmes). Arthur Conan Doyle is also included in the programme in an item entitled ‘Sherlock Holmes: a record by the late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle”.
Bert Coules (see comments below) has suggested that the item in may have been about the celebrated stage version of “The Speckled Band” that opened at the Adelphi Theatre in London on June 4th 1910 with H. A. Saintsbury as Sherlock Holmes. Coincidentally, the same play is due to be staged this month (February 2015) in Houston.
The following year on February 20th, 1935 at 9.25pm the BBC Regional Programme broadcast “The Speckled Hatband’ said to be “not by Sherlock Holmes” but included a character called “Pureluck Jones” played by Bobbie Comber with a Dr Watson played by Claude Hulbert.
In 1936 there was a broadcast of ‘Sherlock Holmes stories’ as part of a “For the Schools” programme at 2pm on September 28th, 1936. This was the start of a series of broadcasts of the stories that eventually gave rise to the Carleton Hobbs and Norman Shelley series in the 1950s.
In 1938 there was a series broadcast on the BBC National Programme called “Detectives In Fiction” in which each programme dealt with a different detective whose exploits made them famous.
Holmes was the first of these and the story presented was “Silver Blaze” at 12.15pm on April 12th, 1938. This half-hour play presented Frank Wyndham Goldie as Holmes and Hugh Harben as me and was adapted from my story by Pascoe Thornton.
In 1939, Bransby Williams at 7.30pm on June 20th, ‘brings to life Detectives in Fiction’ with impersonations of Father Brown, the Scarlet Pimpernel, Mr Reeder, Charlie Chan and as Sherlock Holmes he ‘will make his final bow’.
Next time, I will look at the 1940s when I get another biographer, Arthur Wontner and Carleton Hobbs appear in The Boscombe Valley Mystery, Sir Cedric Harwicke and Finlay Currie appear in The Speckled Band, and Sherlock Holmes continues in the ‘For The Schools’ programmes and as ‘The Book At Bedtime’.
Posted in Radio
14th November, 3 Comments
By John Watson
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.
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.
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.
It 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 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.
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.
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!
12th November, 2 Comments
By John Watson
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”.
It 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.
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.
31st October, No Comments
By John Watson
Stanford 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)
- Sherlock Holmes, Victorian Gentleman contains enlargeable maps showing i. The heart of London; ii.A bird’s-eye view of the Thames; and iii. A bird’s-eye view of the Strand and information about The Strand Magazine from which these facsimiles are reproduced.
- Arthur Conan Doyle
Short Stories (these have been downloaded from the Stanford University website)
- A Scandal In Bohemia
- The Speckled Band
- The Final Problem
- The Empty House
- Silver Blaze
- The Musgrave Ritual
- The Reigate Squire
- The Greek Interpreter
- Charles Augustus Milverton
- The Abbey Grange
- The Second Stain
- The Bruce-Partington Plans
- The Devil’s Foot
- The Dying Detective
- His Last Bow
The Hound of the Baskervilles (these have been downloaded from the Stanford University website)
- The Hound of the Baskervilles 1
- The Hound of the Baskervilles 2
- The Hound of the Baskervilles 3
- The Hound of the Baskervilles 4
- The Hound of the Baskervilles 5
- The Hound of the Baskervilles 6
- The Hound of the Baskervilles 7
- The Hound of the Baskervilles 8
- The Hound of the Baskervilles 9
“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 . . .
Posted in Canon
6th May, No Comments
By John Watson
Somewhat 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:
- The Gloria Scott
- Wisteria Lodge
- The Mazarin Stone
- The Veiled Lodger
- The Yellow Face
- The Three Students
- The Beryl Coronet
- The Speckled Band
- Shoscombe Old Place
- The Five Orange Pips
- The Man With Watches
- The Lost Special
- The Strange Case of Miss Alice Faulkner – Part One – The Napoleon of Crime
- The Strange Case of Miss Alice Faulkner – Part Two – The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes
- The Long Man
- 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.
. . . and how did the evening with the two Watsons go? Well, I think we both learned a lot about the real Watson!
Posted in Characters
7th March, No Comments
By John Watson
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.
Posted in Books
14th February, 4 Comments
By John Watson
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.
- Volume 1 – A Study In Scarlet:
- Volume 2 – The Sign of the Four
- Paperback not available
- Kindle not available
- Volume 3 – The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
- Volume 4 – The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
- Volume 5 – The Hound of the Baskervilles
- Volume 6 – The Return of Sherlock Holmes
- Volume 7 – The Valley of Fear
- Volume 8 – His Last Bow
- Paperback not available
- Kindle not available
- Volume 9 – The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes
- The Complete Set (9 Volumes)
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 . . .
Posted in Books
6th February, No Comments
By John Watson
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”.
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
Posted in Pastiches