They Believe in Sherlock Holmes: A Study in the Writings About the Writings
Edgar Smith, the creator and first editor of The Baker Street Journal was well aware of the importance of keeping green the memory of Sherlock Holmes. He once wrote “While yet the memory of Sherlock Holmes is green—and that will be as long as the spirit of adventurous emprise is still astir in human hearts—there will be those who will be moved to write in loving tribute to the master and his works.” With all his heart, Edgar Smith believed in Sherlock Holmes. The key observation to be made here is the emphasis on “those who will be moved to write in loving tribute to the master and his works.” There are only 60 narratives about the original detective and his biographer Watson. However, there are, at this writing, 22 De51 articles about these original adventures. A list of these articles can be found in Ronald BurtWaal’s Universal Bibliography of Sherlock Holmes, which is available on the University of Minnesota website under special collections/Sherlock Holmes.
I mention these facts because the new shift is away from the original writings and toward the pastiches, the television interpretation of the original Holmes and Watson, the games, etc. Will these adaptations inspire the same devotion as did the original 60 adventures? Will someone save the discussions detected on social media? Will any of these discussions be preserved from the other forms of social media today and into the future? And what of those countless unanswered questions about the loss of data due to websites removed from, or crashed hard drives? Perhaps the modern Sherlockian is no longer concerned with the past—living life’s special moments only in the present. The plan for this blog. is to examine each month, these original writings in an effort to display the wonderful world of Sherlock Holmes.
Some might question why one should we examine these wonderful writings from a bygone era. To be honest, some were superb, others very good, and as with all things, some were not quite as well done. However, each article was written by their authors out of love for what they do. Which brings us full circle to the thoughts Edgar W. Smith expressed so long ago—these thoughts are a “loving tribute to the master and his works.”
Each Month, these pages will examine several articles in the chronology of the original Annotated Sherlock Holmes, assembled by William S. Baring-Gould. The Occupants of the Empty House have followed his chronology for more than 40 years. We have written several articles questioning his chronology. We have also questioned the verity of many of the chronologists. That is the playfulness one discovers when they begin to play the “The Grand Game.” Although Mr. Baring-Gould is our guiding spirit, he was guilty of a few improbables himself,” as have all who play the game. Some suggest he may have twisted facts to suit his preconceived theories, but it does not matter. Doesn’t everybody resort to this when precise data is not forthcoming? Nevertheless, few if any of his critics believe he ever wrote what he wrote without following the main directive from Edgar Smith. Each was a “loving tribute to the master and his works.” Thus, we begin with Holmesian scholar S. Tupper Bigelow, tomorrow: Episode One: “Silver Blaze in The Writings About The Writings.