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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).

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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

Holmes Christmas List 2012

About this time each year I try to get Holmes to compile his wish list for Christmas. Usually at the top of his list is a request for me stop bothering him with such nonsense and to start rewriting my records of his cases to stress the science of deduction instead of the romantic approach he believes I always use.

Undeterred I have persisted and gleaned from him this list of what he regards as passable though he insists he cannot be cluttering his brain with all this nonsense when he has cases that must be solved.

He seems to have some regard for the BBC Sherlock Series and in this vein he has shown an interest in Sherlock – The Casebook though he did throw it across the room when part way through it (I think it was at the section on ‘A Scandal in Belgravia’ – he can be very brusque when anyone else refers to ‘The Woman’). There is now a box set of both series of Sherlock if anyone still hasn’t seen them or just want to pour over every detail of ‘The Reichenbach Fall’ looking for the obvious clue that Steven Moffat says everyone has missed. I doubt that I could persuade him to let me put the Sherlock Calendar up though Mrs Hudson might (she particularly likes the “I am not your housekeeper” from the Mrs Hudson in the series and is thinking of getting Holmes a mug inscribed with it!)

The renewed interest in Holmes generated by the Sherlock series has resulted in even more ‘guides to everything about Holmes’. I did not think any more were needed but Holmes thinks the two from Nick Utechin – Amazing and Extraordinary Facts – Sherlock Holmes and Roger Johnson’s and Jean Upton’s – The Sherlock Holmes Miscellany as providing fresh insight.

Now we also have a Sherlock version of Cluedo using characters and locations from the BBC series.

The latest Mary Russell memoir has her and Holmes, like Webster’s dictionary, Morocco-bound in Garment of Shadows and this is back in the more serious vein after the somewhat lighter Pirate King.

I would add Sherlock’s Home – The Empty House as we still need funds to secure Undershaw although we have won some of the key battles there!

This is a much shorter list than usual but there are a lot of interesting books due to be published in the New Year and at some point we may get a DVD of Elementary (Holmes seems to think that Watson being a woman is particularly apt – I have no idea what he means!)

The Sherlock Holmes Companion

Now, I could consider myself the real Sherlock Holmes Companion, but this book, subtitled “An Elementary Guide”, could be confused with the CBS Television Series! But no, this lavish book by Daniel Smith, is a marvellous compendium consisting of four main parts, interleaved with each other throughout the volume.

There are synopses of each of the 56 short stories and the 4 long stories that comprise the Canon. There are essays on specific aspects of Holmes’ world including his role as a detective and scientist, what he does to relax, his place amongst other investigators, his politics, his appearances on stage, screen and radio (not in person, of course!) and his legacy.

There are interviews with those whose life has become intertwined with his, including  three actors who have played me – Philip Franks on the stage and both of Jeremy Brett‘s Watsons – David Burke and Edward Hardwicke, Bert Coules (responsible for the only complete set of radio recordings of the Canon with the same actors playing Holmes and me throughout), Douglas Wilmer who played Holmes on television in the mid-1960s (annoyingly not available here on DVD), Caleb Carr (who’s book “The Italian Secretary” I have yet to read) and Catherine Cooke who looks after the Sherlock Holmes Collection in my local library.

Finally, there are profiles of the key characters in the stories including Holmes and me, Mrs Hudson (with a mention of our lodgings), Scotland Yard, Professor Moriarty, The Strand Magazine and of course my dear friend, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who made all this possible.

The cover carries an illustration from a theatrical poster for H A Saintsbury‘s portrayal of Holmes in William Gillette’s play “Sherlock Holmes” in which a young Charlie Chaplin played the part of our page boy, Billy. There are many interesting illustrations throughout the book.

Daniel Smith, who confesses to having more film versions of The Hound of the Baskervilles than he knows what to do with, began reading about Holmes in The Speckled Band when he was nine around the same time as Jeremy Brett was appearing as Holmes on television. He should be proud of the work he has put into this book.

It is with a heavy heart [FINA]

It is with a heavy heart that I take up my pen once again as I did to write those words with which I began The Final Problem, two years after the disappearance of Holmes with Moriarty over the Reichenbach Falls.

It seems that almost every portrayal of Holmes and I will, at some point, take Holmes into that great abyss once again, leaving me with a void in my life.

I have been quiet for over two months as regular readers will have noticed. It was almost two years following the events of May 1891 that circumstances (as I related in The Empty House) forced my hand, much in the same vein as caused me to begin this new series of writings (as I have related in the About page of my notes).

The new series of Sherlock from the BBC, in its final episode, The Reichenbach Fall, has done it again, and created doubt in many minds about the true nature of Holmes abilities. The public support has been overwhelming but as the BBC Sherlock Series 2 makes its way around the world I must refrain from providing too much detail, with particular reference to our American friends, and therefore I will delay any discussion of the events that led up to this latest tragedy.

I will, instead, endeavour to concentrate on the immediate future and the many examples of the work of he whom I shall always regard as the best and wisest man whom I have ever known.

Books

I have the following books already awaiting review:

Molly Carr’s In Search of Doctor Watson (revised Second Edition with my picture on the cover!), The Sign of Fear and A Study in Crimson. She also has a new book due out this year (see below)

Kate Workman’s Rendezvous at the Populaire

The Outstanding Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes by Gerard Kelly

Mr Holmes and Dr Watson – Their Strangest Cases

The Sherlock Holmes Companion – An Elementary Guide by Daniel Smith

Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes and Devon – a complete tour guide

The following books are due later this year:

Three sets of audiobooks read by Edward Hardwicke Three Tales of Betrayal, Three Tales of Intrigue and Three Tales of Avarice (these are not due until April but Amazon appears to be shipping them already!)

A Sherlock Holmes Who’s Who (With of Course Dr.Watson) by Molly Carr (March)

The Secret Archives of Sherlock Holmes by June Thomson (April)

Sherlock Holmes at the Breakfast Table by Leslie Coombs (May)

Pocket Sherlock Holmes Quizzes and Puzzles by The Puzzle Society (June)

The Lost Casebooks of Sherlock Holmes: Three Volumes of Detection and Suspense by Donald Thomas (July)

The Sherlock Holmes Miscellany by Roger Johnson and Jean Upton (July)

Garment of Shadows: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes by Laurie King (September)

Films

I have the following films awaiting review:

BBC Sherlock Series Two (with the Series One and Series Two soundtracks)

The Sherlock Holmes Society of London 1959-1974 (films from the Society’s archives)

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (with Ronald Howard as Holmes)

The following films are due later this year:

Murder by Decree (April)

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (May)

In Addition

I plan to continue the series I started this year on Holmes on TV and I hope to bring us up to the present (including the BBC Sherlock Series and perhaps the pilot for the forthcoming CBS series).

I hope to return to my regular writing soon . . .

About

As my literary agent, Arthur Conan Doyle, has sadly passed away, I have, with some reluctance, taken up other means of recording the singular gifts by which my friend , Mr Sherlock Holmes was distinguished.

I have endeavoured to give some account of my strange experiences in his company from the chance meeting that first brought us together in the matter of A Study in Scarlet up to the final story that was published under the title of Shoscombe Old Place in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, though chronologically that was not the last adventure we experienced together.

It had been my intention to stop there but my hand has now been forced by recent portrayals of ourselves on the large screen in “Sherlock Holmes” with Robert Downey Jr. and on the small screen in the BBC series Sherlock and the CBS series Elementary that move us to the present day.

Whilst I continue to work on bringing my reminiscences up to date, this website will continue my work to publicise the singular gifts of him whom I shall ever regard as the best and the wisest man whom I have ever known.

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Composed of all the plugs and dottles left from his smokes of the day before [ENGR]

Holmes displays a vast knowledge of the uses and properties of tobacco in solving cases. His experience with both tobacco and tobacco ash has been broadened by his being such a chronically heavy smoker, prompting me to note, somewhat bitterly, that he was a “self-poisoner by cocaine and tobacco” [FIVE]

He often sits for hours shrouded in smoke. Once during the case of The Hound of the Baskervilles, as I returned to Baker Street “my fears [of a fire] were set at rest, for it was the acrid fumes of strong coarse tobacco which took me by the throat and set me coughing.”

His particular favourite is shag tobacco which he keeps in the toe end of a Persian slipper. Shag is a strong coarse tobacco much inferior to today’s shag which is often used for rolling cigarettes. He also keeps it in various tobacco pouches strewn across his mantlepiece.

Before breakfast he fills his pipe with “all the plugs and dottles left from his smokes of the day before, all carefully dried and collected on the corner of the mantlepiece” [ENGR].

He most commonly uses a black clay pipe, though I think it was once white! Occasionally he will use a briar with an amber stem. When a problem is taxing him he seems to prefer his cherrywood.

He never, never uses a Calabash. That was the pipe used by William Gillette in his otherwise accurate portrayal of Holmes and along with the deerstalker and the phrase “Elementary, my dear Watson” are the stuff of fiction!

His pipes, like his tobacco are all over the place (his such an untidy person!). They are scattered over his mantlepiece and some are in the coal scuttle with the cigars.

As some of you may know, he has made a special study of tobacco ashes and believes he can distinguish at a glance the ash of any known brand of cigar or tobacco. He has written a monograph on the subject entitled “Upon the Distinction Between the Ashes of the Various Tobaccos” [SIGN].

We obtain our smoking requisites from Bradley’s off Oxford Street. I actually prefer ship’s tobacco, a strong blend from the Netherlands or occasionally the Arcadia micture.

The Ocular Helmsman has much detail about tobacco, pipes, cigars and this vile, filthy habit for those who wish to know more.

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