Tagged: Baker Street Irregulars

Emily S. Whitten Reviews The Sherlock Holmes Book

Book Review: The Sherlock Holmes Book

Tis the season…for all of us to be enjoying whatever nifty new items we hopefully received for Christmas. For me this year, that includes The Sherlock Holmes Book, which came out on October 20, 2015 and is part of a series of Big Ideas Simply Explained” books from DK Publishing. These are general reference books that use photographs, illustrations, atlases, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and manuals to explore their topics.


I’m not done reading The Sherlock Holmes Book yet, but from what I’ve perused so far, it’s delightful. Even if you’ve been a Sherlockian for years and have enjoyed all of the canon multiple times, as I have, the book still serves as both a great reference book for summarizing the individual stories or refreshing the memory, and a fun source for supplementary knowledge beyond the canon.

It begins with a background on author Arthur Conan Doyle and on Holmes, his right-hand man Watson, and other main recurring characters in the stories before moving on to the canon itself, examining each individual story with relevant illustrations, historical photographs and images, maps, and small summaries of key characters. It also contains timelines of the stories, including of key events in the lives of Holmes and Watson, which I find particularly fun to flip through. Another neat feature are the summaries of historical events or inspirations for parts of some stories, and of the publishing and production history during Conan Doyle’s lifetime.

After covering the canon, the book moves beyond it to discuss in separate sections the myth and reality of the world portrayed in Sherlockian tales, the setting of the Victorian world and society, criminology and the forensic sciences, crime writing, fans of Sherlock Holmes, adaptations of the canon, and fan fiction (both amateur and professionally published). What I really like about this book is the way it examines the stories and world of Holmes from a number of different angles and presents, even to someone like me who is very familiar with the canon stories, new bits of information, connective tissue, and background on the Sherlockian world beyond the canon.

It really is a great reference book, presented in a colorful and dynamic way that engages the reader. It also, I must note, has a foreword from esteemed Sherlockian and member of the Baker Street Irregulars Les Klinger, author of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes. I didn’t even realize this when I added it to my Christmas list, but it’s a further indication that this is a good Sherlockian resource to have (and maybe I will have to take it along to the BSI Weekend next weekend and get it signed!).

DK Publishing also has “Big Ideas” books for subjects like philosophy, Shakespeare, sociology, and science, and after seeing how well this book is done, I may have to add those to my next Christmas list. Until then, I shall keep perusing my newest cool Sherlockian book, and I hope you all Servo Lectio!

Emily S. Whitten: The Music of Sherlock Holmes

This past weekend, Sherlock Holmes fans from all over the world gathered in New York City to celebrate Holmes’ birthday at the annual BSI Weekend, hosted in main part by The Baker Street Irregulars, a Sherlockian literary society founded by Christopher Morley in 1934. As a longtime Holmes fan myself, this was my third year attending, and, as before, I had a great time with Sherlockian friends old and new, discussing and honoring the great detective, his faithful chronicler Dr. Watson, and the peripheral cast of characters (including the original BSI, Holmes’ group of street urchin informants) created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.


I first attended the BSI Weekend in January 2012 after organizing a Sherlock Holmes Night at The National Press Club and learning in the process about our local Sherlockian scion society, The Red Circle, and the BSI Weekend celebrations. And in honor of the BSI and Sherlock Holmes, today I figured I’d share something I put together while organizing that party – to wit, a little soundtrack of music that Holmes could conceivably have been listening to in the midst of his adventures, based on mentions in the canon of musicians and concerts he enjoyed.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are other fans around who are probably more serious Sherlockian scholars than I, and in fact, before I even realized that the BSI was out there as a Sherlockian society, I was using some of its work as a resource for compiling my little playlist (thank you, Baker Street Journal online archives). However, thanks to a little sleuthing and deduction of my own, despite there being more serious discussions of Holmes and music to be had, I am able to here provide a quick-and-easy list of compositions that are actually available and easily acquirable by anyone via, e.g., iTunes. So if scholarship is all well and good but what you’re really in the mood for is an efficient means of acquiring tunes that Holmes may have enjoyed as he processed clues while you snuggle up with your favorite bit of the canon on a snowy day, I can recommend the list below for your Sherlockian music needs.

  • Violin Concerto No. 7 in e Minor, Op. 38: II. Adagio – Takako Nishizaki, Capella Istropolitana & Libor Pesek
  • Song Without Words – Felix Mendelssohn
  • Sonata in D Major, Op. 1 No. 13 (HWV 371): I. Affetuoso – Andrew Manze & Richard Egarr
  • Sonata in D Major, Op. 1 No. 13 (HWV 371): II. Allegro – Andrew Manze & Richard Egarr
  • Sonata in D Major, Op. 1 No. 13 (HWV 371): III. Larghetto – Andrew Manze & Richard Egarr
  • Sonata in D Major, Op. 1 No. 13 (HWV 371): IV. Allegro – Andrew Manze & Richard Egarr
  • Barcarolle from the Tales of Hoffmann (Act 2) – Jacques Offenbach
  • Airs Ecossais, Op. 34 – Adele Anthony & Akira Eguchi
  • String Quartet in C Major, Op. 29: I. Allegro Moderato – Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble
  • String Quartet in C Major, Op. 29:II. Adagio molto Espressivo – Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble
  • String Quartet in C Major, Op. 29:III. Scherzo: Allegro – Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble
  • String Quartet in C Major, Op. 29:IV. Presto – Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble
  • Nocturne No. 18 in E, Op. 62, No. 2 – Vladimir Ashkenazy
  • 24 Caprices Op. 1 for Solo Violin: No., 18 in C – Nicolo Paganini
  • Barcarolle in F Sharp Major, Op. 60 – Alwin Bär
  • Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 108: I. Allegro – Nikolaj Znaider & Yefim Bronfman
  • Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 in A Major, Op. 100: II. Andante Tranquillo – Nikolaj Znaider & Yefim Bronfman
  • Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 in A Major, Op. 100: III. Allegretto Grazioso (quasi Andante) – Nikolaj Znaider & Yefim Bronfman

Enjoy! And if you are of a more scholarly bent and are curious as to why these songs were chosen, here are a few of the resources I used in compiling them: Music, Musicians, and Composers in The Canon, The Avant-Garde Sherlock Holmes, and Sherlock Holmes and Music.


Until next time, the game’s afoot – so Servo Lectio!