Twelfth Night Giveaway: Day 14


We can’t know for sure, of course, unless there’s a record tucked away in that dispatch box, but perhaps, some time near the beginning of January, 1886, Sherlock Holmes took on a private case.  Perhaps it was a complex crime of a sensitive nature, and perhaps it took all of his time, causing him to fly through his own birthday without noticing. Perhaps Mrs. Hudson made a plum cake, which Watson ended up eating all by himself, in bits and pieces, slipping some to Holmes while he wasn’t really paying attention enough to wonder what it was for.

And perhaps, three weeks later, once the client’s cheque had cleared and Holmes had slept for a day or so, Watson told his flatmate to get dressed, because they were going out.


“Something even better.”

“Why? What’s the occasion?”

“We’ve missed your birthday, Holmes, and with the remuneration from your latest case, we can afford to do things up properly.”

watson with paper


“Properly” could mean Langham’s and if so, this is the bill of fare they would have had to choose from (note that the date is incorrect; Monday was January 25 in 1886):

Langham hotel menu

Thanks for finding this, Jacquelyn!!

Langham hotel menu

Afterwards, they may have gone out for some form of entertainment. The Langham conveniently provides several ideas on their menu, including Miss Lily Langtry in “Princess George.” Holmes would have had his choice, however, so Dr. Watson may well have had to sit through a lecture on “Average Rates of Mortality” at the Institute of Actuaries or “Hegel’s Conception of Nature” at the Aristotelian Society. “Faust” was at the Lyceum, Burns’s Birthday Concert at the Albert Hall, and Maskylene and Cook performed their famous illusions at Covent Garden Circus. “The Mikado” was playing at the Strand, but that seems more Watson’s thing.

Well, today we’re celebrating Sherlock Holmes’s birthday on time, but we still want to “do things up properly.”  And so, the 4th Annual 12th Night Giveaway Grand Prize is:





It is what you think it is.

It’s not in pristine condition, but if it had been, I wouldn’t have been able to afford it! The binding is loose, there’s a fair amount of foxing (brown spots on pages), that kind of thing, but it’s not in bad shape.  This volume contains two items of Sherlockian interest, the first being the Holmes story, “The Adventure of Silver Blaze.”  The second (and to me, possibly more exciting) article is a profile of Arthur Conan Doyle himself, complete with several photographs. Here, a glimpse of the contents:





…of Isonomy stock



It’s the picture!



“A Day with Conan Doyle”













There are actually a few more article tangentially related to Doyle, but I’ll let you discover those on your own. To enter the drawing for this prize, simply answer the following question:


Which of Sherlock Holmes’s deductions do you find the most brilliant? Tell us what it is, why you admire it, and where it can be found in the Canon.


As always, submit your answers via Facebook PM, Twitter DM, or blog comment. Everyone is eligible, no matter how many times you’ve won in the past. Best of luck!  Now, go have some birthday cake!





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Twelfth Night Giveaway: Day 13

Life is a series of choices, one after another. Good, bad, and indifferent, and the world of Sherlock Holmes is no different. If you think about it, every story in the Canon begins, typically, with at least one very poor choice, and the resulting dilemma is only resolved when someone decides to make a better one–namely, consulting Sherlock Holmes.


The unhappy John Hector McFarlane is a prime example.

And good for them! For there is nothing sadder than a person who knows he should choose a different road, yet continues down the same perilous path, rather than admit that he was wrong.

I probably do that all the time–particularly when it comes to the consumption of chips, which I insist on buying, even though I know what will happen to them within, at most, 48 hours. Today, however, I found myself at a crossroads regarding today’s giveaway prize. Normally,  I choose and even buy them several months in advance, but for some reason, I just wasn’t happy with what I’d plan to offer today. Nt that there was anything wrong with it; it just didn’t seem right.

So, like many a client, I went looking for Sherlock Holmes. And I found him.

Complete Granada Blu-ray

Gentle reader, I have longed for years  to be able to offer the Granada Box Set as a giveaway prize, but it’s always been just a little (ok, a lot) too dear. But today, it was ON SALE, and so, once again the Great Detective has remitted his fee, at least in part. It’s Blu-Ray, and Region 1, so you will need to have the right kind of player, but if you do, here’s the question you need to answer to enter the drawing…

Speaking of John Hector McFarlane and “The Adventure of the Norwood Builder,” what plot point did the Granada writers change from the Canon record?  I am thinking of one incident in particular, but if you come up with another, that works, too!


Again, just submit your answer via Twitter DM, Facebook PM or blog comment, and best of luck to all!



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Twelfth Night Giveaway: Day 12

There are many myths perpetuated about Sherlock Holmes. People believe that he was in love with Irene Adler. They think he spent the entire Canon chasing Professor Moriarty, or that he never made a mistake.  Some people even believe that he has died.

yes thank you for your input.gif

This is what we think about that.

But one of the most egregious myths about our hero is perpetuated by Sherlockians, in virtually every film set of 221B Baker Street ever constructed. See if you can guess what it is….


1951 Festival of Britain



Basil Rathbone-1939









William Gillette-1916








RDJ 221

Robert Downey, Jr–2009


Benedict Cumberbatch–2010







Martin Freeman’s pillow-thumping, and RDJ’s meltdown notwithstanding, these versions of Holmes’ and Watson’s rooms all have one thing in common–one incorrect thing:  They are too neat. Sherlock Holmes, his flatmate informs us, was, in reality, an utter slob.

An anomaly which often struck me in the character of my friend Sherlock Holmes was that, although in his methods of thought he was the neatest and most methodical of mankind, and although also he affected a certain quiet primness of dress, he was none the less in his personal habits one of the most untidy men that ever drove a fellow-lodger to distraction.

He then goes on to mention the tobacco in the Persian slipper, the cigars in the coal scuttle, the jackknifed correspondence…but we know what he really means is this:



One thing, however, he was always careful to keep in order: information. Whether it was kept hidden away in his brain attic, his indexes, his scrapbooks or his common-place books, he always knew where to lay his hand on that obscure fact about jellyfish, and could brag about his fine collection of “M’s.”

Order comes naturally to some people.


This gentleman, for example

For others of us, it is more challenging. But there is no reason not to have important information at your fingertips, where it belongs. Today’s prize is an excellent start in that direction.

the sherlock holmes book


Leslie Klinger’s Annotated Sherlock Holmes and The Sherlock Holmes Reference Library are wonderful sources for every Sherlockian bookshelf.  But they’re large, expensive, multi-volume works. This year, Mr. Klinger has put together a one-volume work for DK that has received excellent reviews. To get your chance to win a copy, just answer the question below:

Not every case Sherlock Holmes pursues turns out to be an actual crime. Name two Canon mysteries in which no laws were broken.

And, as always, submit your answers to me via blog comment, Facebook PM, or Twitter DM. Winners will be announced tomorrow!


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Twelfth Night Giveaway: Day 11

Sherlockpaget chemistry

Doing his research.


For a man so intimately connected with fiction, Sherlock Holmes is obsessed with fact. As he tells Watson, after reading A Study in Scarlet,

“Honestly, I cannot congratulate you upon it. Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science, and should be treated in the same cold and unemotional manner. You have attempted to tinge it with romanticism, which produces much the same effect as if you worked a love-story or an elopement into the fifth proposition of Euclid.” (SIGN)


“Oh, my darling,” he gasped, “If a line segment intersects two straight lines….”


Of course, we learn in “The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier” that Holmes came to accept that “the matter must be presented in such a way as may interest the reader,” but it’s probably not a huge leap of logic to suggest that he is much more comfortable with the non-fiction aspect of Sherlockian studies than with the world of pastiche.

There are so many ways to explore the truth behind Watson’s stories; I’ve reviewed some of them here, such as James O’Brien’s The Scientific Sherlock Holmes. One can read accounts of the Battle of Maiwand, a biography of Gladstone, or Salisbury, or Rosebery, or whoever that “high-nosed, eagle-eyed” official on the (“paper-littered”) settee of 221B might have been. Or , one can read about the phenomenon of Sherlock Holmes himself, in a book like this one–today’s prize:

dundas the great detective

To win a copy of Zach Dundas’s well-received look at Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Sherlockian world in general, simply enter your answer to this question in today’s drawing:

Despite his insistence on facts, Sherlock Holmes was actually well-acquainted with literature, including the works of William Shakespeare. Give  two Shakespearean references one can find in the Canon. Be sure to provide the names of the stories in which they appear!

As always, submit your answers via blog comment, Twitter DM or Facebook PM. The winner’s name will be announced following tomorrow’s drawing!



Congratulations to Chihui Yuan and Jacquelyn Applegate, both winners of the Sherlock: The Abominable Bride video! There were a lot of entries for this, which kind of surprised me, as there wasn’t a long wait between BBC and other showings like there usually is!

Answers to the brides question included:
Hattie Doran (NOBL)
Helen Stoner (SPEC)
Mary Sutherland (IDEN)
Violet Smith (SOLI)
Eva Blackwell (CHAS)
Irene Norton (SCAN)
Alice Rucastle (COPP)
Violet de Melville (ILLU)
and, of course, Mary Morstan (SIGN)

Answers for the Canon references included: Watson’s quoting lines from STUD; the 5 orange pips (FIVE); references to The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle; Watson’s clumsy and careless servant girl (SCAN).

Well done, all!!!

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Twelfth Night Giveaway: Day 10

So!  Have you seen it?  Have you? Have you?  And by “it,” I mean, of course….

Sherlock TAB

Be still, my heart.

Of course, I’m writing this post weeks ahead of schedule, so I have no idea  if this is the episode we’ve been looking for, but I can tell you that I am far more excited about it than the other hotly-anticipated media event of the season.*

I didn’t always feel this way about BBC Sherlock. I don’t watch a lot of television, so I missed it entirely when it came out, and just accidentally happened onto it on PBS one night. It was the scene in “The Blind Banker” where Soo Lin is telling her story to Sherlock and John in the museum, and it just…didn’t grab me at all. Several months later, I decided to try it again via iTunes, and I was hooked.  Completely.

The Sherlockian world is so very broad, and there are so many stories and films and aspects of the hobby that it can, I think, accommodate just about every possible interest. Which is wonderful, but it means that, while you may find collecting pastiche is your passion, someone else may only be enraptured with the Canon and a collection of vintage pipes. The woman sitting next to you at a scion meeting may be the slash queen of Tumblr, while you may run a blog centered around John Barrymore. The man who irritates you with his continual chronology arguments may share your desire to collect every Holmes figurine ever, even the weird mugs with faces.  What I’m trying to say is, appreciate others’ Holmesian interests, even if (and perhaps especially if) you don’t share them, and once  in awhile, step out and try something new. You may find you like it.


Keep an open mind–like Anderson!

Which, of course leads us to today’s prize which is–shockingly–a DVD or Blu-Ray (your choice) of The Abominable Bride. This prize will be available to ship on January 12, and I will try to match your region if possible. Because not everyone will have seen the episode by today, we have a choice of questions:

Question 1: List three Canon references which appeared in Sherlock:The Abominable Bride. Be sure to include the story in which each appeared!


Question 2: List 3 brides (or brides-to-be) whom Holmes helped in the Canon. Be sure to give the names of the stories in which they appear!

As always, send your answers via blog comment, Facebook PM or Twitter DM!  Good luck!

Sherlock TAB bluray




Congratulations to Claire Danes, winner of the Otto Penzler volume of Sherlock Holmes short stories! The violin pieces submitted were: Hoffman’s Barcarolle (several times), the Chopin piece Holmes sings in STUD, Mendelssohn’s Lieder, “Gabrielle,” from “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes,” Sarasate’s program from REDH and, of course, Patrick Gower’s opening from Granada Holmes.


*Sorry, my darling husband.

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Twelfth Night Giveaway: Day 9



Harper’s Weekly

Happy 2016 Everyone!!!!!!

Because I’m writing this well in advance of the actual date, I haven’t seen any articles about New Years’ resolutions, but I imagine that for the past week the internet has been swimming in them. We tend to like new beginnings–they give us the opportunity to imagine our better selves and, occasionally, the chance to actually create them. So it is that when the calendar rolls over again, many of us make those little promises to ourselves. If you spent New Year’s Eve in church, you likely set some new spiritual goals.  If you spent it at a wild party, you may have one that involves less excess…or more ibuprofen.  If you’re a student starting a new semester, you may wish to study harder, become more organized, or go out for a team. If your clothes are too tight after the holidays, you likely want to purge the cabinets and go for a run.  If you’re a mom…you just wanna get through the rest of vacation with your sanity.

Its fun to shop as a family

No. No it isn’t.

Noble goals, all of them. But what about your Sherlockian self?  A post by a friend, Resa Haile, about future Sherlock Holmes projects got me wondering…. For many of us, being a fan of Sherlock Holmes is more than just enjoying the Canon (not that there’s anything wrong with that). There are plenty of 221B-related activities out there if you’re looking to branch out. This year could be your chance to:

  • Start a blog
  • Read a pastiche
  • Write a pastiche
  • Write a paper to submit to your local newsletter, The Serpentine Muse, or the Baker Street Journal
  • Write a book. Seriously. Do it.
  • Join a scion society
  • Start  a scion society
  • Go to a conference
  • Do some cosplay
  • Watch a film version you’ve never seen
  • Wear that deerstalker or that Sherlock t-shirt in public
  • Learn the violin
  • Get out of that shipboard pact–those never end well


If you’d like to start the new year with a new Holmes story, this is your chance, for today’s prize is a wonderful collection of pastiche, edited by the Grand Master of Mystery, Otto Penzler (founder of The Mysterious Press and owner of New York’s Mysterious Bookshop).  And as with most resolutions, the sooner you get started the better, so here’s today’s question:

If you were to learn the violin, which Sherlock Holmes-related piece would you want to try the most?

As always, send your answers via FaceBook PM, Twitter DM, or blog comment, and I’ll rush this book off to the winner!

otto penzler anthology



Well, the response to the Gillette giveaway was really tremendous! Congratulations to Karen Hayes! There was, of course, a huge number of actors to choose from. Entries mentioned:

John Barrymore
Clive Brooks (Jaime Mahoney’s very favorite, hahaha)
Harry Benham
Arthur Wontner
Eille Norwood
Tod Slaughter
Reginald Owen
Cecil Hardwicke
Raymond Massey
Robert Rendel
Georges Treville
H A Saintsbury
and, of course, William Gillette!

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Twelfth Night Giveaway: Day 8


via New York Ephemera

So, tonight is New Year’s Eve–kind of the adult follow-up to Christmas. I don’t remember thinking much about New Year’s as a child, pretty much because my parents were all about us going to bed as early as possible. But by the time I was in middle school, we’d started to make a party of it by renting movies (and a projector, because they were reel-to-reel!) and eating a glorious amount of junk food. These were old movies for the most part, most of them made even before I was born, and we watched the same ones practically every year: “The Jungle Book,” with Sabu as Mowgli; an episode of “Flipper,” and once, “World of Wheels,” featuring Fabian–the narrator seemed to think we would know who he was.*

Our absolute favorite, however, was Laurel and Hardy’s “The Music Box.”  We watched it over and over.  We acted it out. We quoted it in appropriate situations, like, when we carried anything up the stairs.  Even though it was, at the time, fifty years old, was filmed in black and white, featured a horse-drawn wagon, and less-than reliable electricity, it made us laugh ourselves silly. Every time. In introducing my kids to Sherlock Holmes I have found, to my disappointment, that only one child likes the Basil Rathbone films; the story is slower, and they really don’t like the black and white.  But one day last summer, I managed to find “The Music Box” online. All three laughed themselves silly, and demanded to see it again.**

This year, something remarkable happened in the Sherlockian world: for the first time since 1916, audiences could see the legendary William Gillette portray the great detective in the silent version of the play, “Sherlock Holmes.”***  It was screened for audiences in Paris and San Francisco, shown on TCM, and offered on Blu-Ray–possibly to higher than anticipated demand, as the delivery date kept getting later and later…. Opinions on it have been mixed, story-wise. It’s a different sort of adventure than the ones we’ve gotten used to, and it’s more convoluted than the Canon.  Holmes has a love interest.† The acting styles are, in most cases, different that what we’re used to–with the notable exception of Edward Fielding as Dr. Watson. That’s what I thought, anyway–I’d like to know your opinions.

And if you’re itching to play movie critic and haven’t seen the film, your 2015 just got luckier, because (as if you haven’t guessed), today’s prize is, in fact, a copy of “Sherlock Holmes.”


Sherlock Holmes dvd

It comes with both Blu-Ray and DVD!

Unfortunately, I cannot find this on the European Amazon sites I use, so you will need an all-region player to view it if you do not live in the U.S.

But…if you’d like a chance to travel back in time 100 years, then send in your answer to this question:

Name five actors who portrayed Sherlock Holmes on stage or film before 1950–and who were not Basil Rathbone.

As always, send your answers via Twitter DM, Facebook PM, or blog comment! I’ll announce the winner in tomorrow’s post!



Congratulations to Noreen Pazderski, winner of the 1894 copy of Memoirs. This was a hotly contested prize, and answers included:

Taking walks
Philosophy and agriculture
Beekeeping (of course)
Writing up two cases (LION and BLAN)
Writing his book, “Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, With Some Observations Upon the Segregation of the Queen.”
Solving the occasional crime
…and (my personal favorite) Spying (see VALL)



*Yes, he was before my time, thank you very much (just 2 days older than my father). But he’s still around. Here’s his website:


**You can find it here–

***Read about its discovery and restoration here:

†Spoilers: It’s not Watson.



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