The Game Is Afoot!

A Study in SherlockA personal invite goes out to you all for a special sneak preview of my new blog, A Study in Sherlock, set to launch tomorrow. This site is devoted to the life, times and influence of the Great Detective himself, perhaps the most famous fictional character in history.

There’s a tonne of material already in the queue, and so it’s my intention that there will be something new every weekday, and occasionally on weekends. That includes original pieces (many of which are written for newcomers to the Canon), photographs, teasers for the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, illustrations, news stories, book reviews, audio snippets, “workshop” projects (such as do-it-yourself reference cards or CDs), radio plays, and featured sites. Most of these entries are selected to offer something for neophytes, but –hopefully– also provide ample occasion for discourse amongst the more experienced.

I appreciate any and all feedback from you fine folks — a contact form can be accessed from the top menu, and the comment forms are ready to go, so please don’t be shy. I hope you enjoy!

A Study in Sherlock

Dorr Steele, from LADYOne of the reasons why I decided to keep a blog in the first place was to force my mind into gear and keep learning. After all, nothing obliges you to delve into a topic quite like having to share one’s thoughts and opinions about it. (The old teaching dictum: “The best way to learn is to teach.”) Of course, to stick with something long-term, you actually need to have either a personal stake in it, or a burning interest for it, if not an actual obsession. While I do have a personal stake in this blog and DIYPlanner.com, sometimes the endless marching forwards of productivity methods can get a little wearisome. The subject matter is inherently practical and work-related, never something I’d pursue to unwind or relax. (At least, not any more.)

To that end, I’m thinking of beginning a new multimedia blog. The catch? This one will be about Sherlock Holmes and his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Since I first learned to read, I’ve always been fascinated by this character. I’ve read the Canon (the 56 short stories and four novels) dozens of times, the rest of Sir ACD’s works at least two or three times, and I have shelves and shelves of scholarly books, pastiches (books in the “original style”), biographies, films, graphics, television programs, radio recordings and more. While I possess nowhere near the knowledge of most Holmes scholars (alas, I have yet to subscribe to the Baker Street Journal), I figure this is a perfect opportunity to immerse myself in a lifelong interest, become more proficient in the subject as I go along, learn to relax a little, and offer some daily illustrations, links, photographs, texts, reviews and old-time radio shows for those who follow the life and times of the Master Detective.

Everyone needs a hobby to unwind. I figure a thirty-year obsession is about as close to a persistent hobby as I get….

Rare Holmes Movies for Free

My big Christmas gift to myself came as a result of wandering through the Mystery section of PublicDomainTorrents.com.

While my collection of Sherlock Holmes DVDs are well rounded-out with Brett, Rathbone and others, some of the earliest films have always eluded me, and in particular those of Wontner and Owen as the Master Detective. I did find Wontner’s The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes for $1 in the discount bin at a Wal*Mart, but all three copies they had there were defective, crashing Windows and refusing to be read by either Mac OS X or Linux. So it was a pleasant surprise to trip across four Wontner and Owen films in this torrent archive (the films fell into the public domain years ago), free for download.

The quality is not the greatest, of course –these are films made in the 30’s and these copies are not taken from the masters– but they’re still a great find for me nevertheless. If you’re interested, point your BitTorrent client (I use Azureus) to PDT and catch Reginald Owen in A Study in Scarlet (1933, and bearing no resemblance whatsoever to the novel), and Wontner in The Sign of Four (1932), The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes (1935), and Murder at the Baskervilles (1937, a.k.a., Silver Blaze). There are also a few of the Rathbone/Bruce films in the Mystery section as well, although those are somewhat easier to find elsewhere.

Free Facsimiles of Sherlock Holmes Stories

Sherlock Holmes in Strand MagazineReaders of this blog will note a certain minor obsession of mine with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary creation Sherlock Holmes. Stanford University is now publishing paper and PDF facsimiles of the original stories of Sherlock Holmes exactly as they appeared in Strand Magazine, over a century ago, complete with the wonderful illustrations of Sidney Paget. You can subscribe to either version for free.

Over 12 weeks from January through April 2006, Stanford will be republishing, free of charge, two early Holmes stories, “A Scandal in Bohemia” and “The Speckled Band”; the nine-part novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles; and the famous “last” encounter between Holmes and Moriarty, “The Final Problem.” If you would like to receive paper facsimiles of the original magazine releases, you may sign up on our website. If you would prefer to download the facsimile as a pdf from the website, each installment will be available on successive Fridays.

Discovering Sherlock Holmes – A Community Reading Project From Stanford University

If you can’t wait, you can certainly download these stories from many different places on the Net (they are now in the public domain), including 221B Baker Street and Project Gutenberg–see Sherlockian.net for plenty more– but this is something very special. It might even make a nice little Christmas gift for the mystery fans you know.