Archive for December, 2012

News Bulletin 106


‘He turned into one of the district messenger offices, where he was warmly greeted by the manager.’*


Happy Birthday DM!

The District Messenger, newsletter of The Sherlock Holmes Society of London is thirty years old this month.  From its inception it has been edited and distributed by Roger Johnson, who since 2007 has also been joint Editor of the Society’s journal The Sherlock Holmes Journal.

The District Messenger began life as the Grapevine on 1 December 1982. The first issue consisted of a letter from Grant C. Eustace, trailing a new BBC drama series called Second Holmes, which was to start transmission in January of the  following year (incidentally, that six-part series has just had a re-run on BBC Radio4 Extra).

The fledgling newsletter was already making its mark but in February 1985 Roger appealed to readers to give the Grapevine a new name (“The best I can come up with  is ” L a n g d a l e  Pike,”  wrote Roger,  “a n d I’m  n o t  really happy with it!”). It was member Tony Medawar who was inspired to suggest The District Messenger, a title the newsletter has proudly born since March 1985.

The District Messenger, it usually runs to 2 A4 pages, is jam-packed full of all the latest news of our world and it is especially good on news and capsule reviews of  new publications. Ever since day one Roger has provided the printed newsletter free to members who paid for postage or supplied him with SAEs but most readers now access it electronically. There are normally twelve issues a year, usually about one a month. Best of all, The District Messenger is absolutely free and it is also available to non-members.

You can access its entire archive, right back to that first issue.

You will also be able to find it on our Links page.

The DM, as some of its readers fondly call it, is an essential piece of reading for anyone who takes a serious interest in the world of Sherlock Holmes. On the occasion of its 30th birthday, we wish the DM many happy returns!


*The Hound of the Baskervilles



News Bulletin 105

“This case will make a stir, sir,” he remarked. “It beats anything I have seen.”


Portsmouth is celebrating 125 years since the world’s most famous literary detective Sherlock Holmes appeared in his first story, A Study in Scarlet, which was featured in Beeton’s Christmas Annual (1887).

Only a few first edition copies of this annual still exist, and Portsmouth City Museum has one of them. Portsmouth lays claim to the ‘birthplace’ of Sherlock Holmes, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle started writing his first novels featuring the legendary detective whilst living in the city. The city is also home to the world’s largest private collection of Conan Doyle books, objects and documents, following the donation from collector and writer Richard Lancelyn Green.

Stephen Fry, patron of Arthur Conan Doyle Collection Lancelyn Green Bequest, said “I25 years of the world’s most recognisable, enduring and influential detective. A century and a quarter of Sherlock Holmes. When Doctor John Watson, having been invalided out of the war in Afghanistan, found himself drifting towards Piccadilly Circus in London “that great cesspool into which all the idlers and loungers of the Empire are irresistibly drained” he little knew that a chance encounter with an old army friend in the Criterion Bar would lead him to the great meeting with one he would later describe as “the best and wisest man whom I have ever known”.

“Holmes is imperishable. Sometimes his reality, manners, traits, habits, turns of phrase, style of dress, his violin, cocaine, tobacco, deerstalker and magnifying glass obscure the achievements of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a man quite as remarkable as his best known creation. It is Conan Doyle we honour, thank and remember. The collection of his papers in Portsmouth is a fabulous treasure that Sherlockians, admirers of Doyle’s writing and those curious to find out more are grateful to know exists. It is carefully and professionally curated in the town for whose football club he once played in goal. “So raise a glass to the greatness of Doyle and the eternal glory of Sherlock Holmes, ushered into this world 125 years ago.”

There’s much more to see at Conan Doyle Collection (Lancelyn Green Bequest) Portsmouth.

Picture caption: Museum volunteer Aneta Martiskova. Photos courtesy of Portsmouth City Council. Culled from a Press Release by Portsmouth City Museum 20 November 2012.

News Bulletin 104

“Very interesting reading it might be made, too,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.


It’s New! It’s SHipWrite!

SHipWrite, our brand new page for articles & reviews is being launched today. We’re getting underway with two articles and a selection of four book reviews.

Each article has a page of its own but the reviews are all housed under the heading of The Review so you can scroll down to read one after the other. 

Some of the material has already appeared in whole or in part in other publications (including the Crew’s) and we make no apology for repeating it here.

Please do feel free to get in touch and tell us what you think about our initial offering. Praise and criticism are all, well almost all, equally welcome.

We’d also like to receive fresh material (original if possible but we don’t insist upon it) for SHipWrite and we welcome all submissions. Like the website itself, this new page is not just for our members, it’s for everyone who is interested in Sherlock Holmes and/or Conan Doyle, so absolutely anyone out there is free to submit material to us. Please note that we don’t guarantee publication, the editor’s decision is final.

How long will an article or review appear on SHipwrite? We haven’t decided that yet or how often we will refresh SHipWrite with new material. The answer to those questions will largely depend on receiving fresh contributions from our readers.

Our ‘old’ Articles page (the recent content is still there) has been given a new temporary name – Archive (it took us all of ten seconds to think that one up). It will however be getting a new permanent name and we’ll be making changes to the content. We’ll have more news on all that in the very near future.

So, all that’s left for you to do now is click here and find out what’s on SHipWrite.


Seeing and Observing

What’s Alex Kane got to tell us this week?


Catch-up Corner

Great Continental Railway Journeys (4/5), last Thursday 29 November 2012 at 9pm on BBC2 (also repeated very early Thursday 6 December).  The Swiss scenery is breathtaking throughout, but the one  bit you really don’t want to miss is Portillo’s barking impersonation of the Hound! Watch it here.

Making History (6/6), last Tuesday 27 November 2012 at 3pm on BBC Radio4 included an interesting feature on the Piltdown Man Hoax, which mentioned  Conan Doyle. Listen to it here.