Welcome

The Red Circle is Sherlock's home in Washington DC. Now in our seventh decade, we continue to celebrate his immortality and enjoy each other's company.
All are welcome to join us and share our interest in all things Sherlockian and Doylean.

Next Meeting

Friday, December 8, 2017
Hyatt Regency Bethesda
7400 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD
Drinks at 6:00 -- Dinner at 7:00
Speaker
Nea Dodson
"Two Fandoms, Both Alike in Dignity"

Writings

 


 
Sherlockians Abroad  David and Cindy Richards were two of the half-dozen Red Circle representatives at the "Reichenbach and Beyond" conference hosted in Switzerland by the Reichenbach Irregulars during the last days of summer (see "dreadful cauldron" note below). David has prepared a compelling report on the meeting, along with his thoughts on being "newcomers" to international events devoted to Holmes, and a few words about what makes Sherlockians and Holmesians special people. It's an excellent read, highly recommended. You can find it here, and there's also a link to it on the "Writings" page.
 
The Red Circle's September 22 meeting featured Bill Hyder's presentation entitled "Evolution in Baker Street." You can read the Meeting Notes here, which include a link to the manuscript of Bill's paper. You can also find the paper in our Writings Section.
 

Murder in Miniature   The Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery in Washington is featuring a truly unique exhibition through January 28 that should bring Sherlockians no small amount of pleasure. Frances Glessner Lee, a Chicago heiress, was inspired by the Sherlock Holmes adventures at an early age and channeled her newfound love of  homicide investigations to creating miniature crime scenes. . .in dollhouses! The exhibit, entitled Murder is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, features 18 of Lee’s dollhouses, each based on a real crime. She built the intricate miniatures in the 1940s as teaching aids for Harvard’s legal medicine students. Now, in a unique blending of art and science, visitors to the Renwick can try their hands at solving the mysteries locked in the tiny abodes. There are two good articles about the exhibit, one from CNN and the other from the Huffington Post. The Renwick is at 1661 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, across from the White House and the Executive Office Building. Admission is free.  Photo: Smithsonian Institution

 

"Mr. Wodehouse Goes to Washington" was the motto of the 19th annual convention of The Wodehouse Society, and the events included as Senior Bloodstain held by The Clients of Adrian Mulliner (a society of fans dedicated to the enjoyment of the writings of John H. Watson and P.G. Wodehouse). Visitors and locals participated in a reading of "The Bayswater Boarding-House"  (a pastiche written by Francis Edward Grainger), adapted and dramatized by William Hyder. The original story published in 1908 in collection of travesties by Headon Hill (Grainger's pen name) featured Radford Shone, who appeared as Sherlock Holmes in Bill's dramatization. A good time, needless to say, was had by all.
 

"That dreadful cauldron of swirling water and seething foam" near the village of Meirengen and the hamlet of Rosenlaui in the Swiss Alps has always held a special allure for Sherlockians. The fall of Reichenbach inevitably finds its way to most of our bucket lists. Thanks to a delightful and well-attended conference produced in late summer by the Reichenbach Irregulars, the Swiss Sherlockian society, six pilgrims from the Red Circle gathered with some 70 others in a hotel overlooking the fabled cataract. The path leading to the edge was deemed too wet and dangerous to navigate, but the reliable red wagon of the Reichenbach funicular carried us to the complete safety of the overlook just across the chasm. Reichenbach Irregular Marcus Geisser is a regular visitor there, and he assured us that the rainy day brought with it the strongest flow he'd ever seen. Indeed, that half-human cry was unforgettable, as was the spray swirling up from the abyss. Your webmaster is not given to taking selfies, but this one, complete with my Red Circle pin, was a must. A new day brought clear weather and another dramatic view from our hotel room balcony.

 

 

A Challenger Challenge: The Lost Statuette   Fans of Professor George Edward Challenger tend to be unaware that there was a statuette that appeared in a photograph in the January 1913 issue of The Strand Magazine promoting the publication of The Poison Belt (which was serialized in the Strand beginning in the March 1913 issue.  The statuette was displayed "at the largest bookshops and bookstalls" where the public could buy The Lost World. Daniil Doubshin hopes to learn more about the statuette, which he believes was owned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Anyone who knows the name of the artist, or where the statuette is now, is invited to communicate with Daniil here. Wallace Beery starred as Challenger in the classic silent film The Lost World (1925) and Flicker Alley now offers the restored (and most complete) version of the film on DVD and Blu-ray here.  The website offers a short trailer that shows how spectacular the restoration was.  The dinosaurs filmed by Willis H. O'Brien using stop-motion photography of models, which was state-of-the-art at the time. O'Brien went on to bigger and better things for the film King Kong (1933). Click here to see a larger image of the statuette, along with The Strand Magazine's original caption.

 

The Hounds of the Internet is the longest established online internet group devoted to the Sherlock Holmes stories and to the world of Sherlockians and Doyleans. Alexander E. Braun, who presides over the Hounds, prepares interesting discussion notes for one of the stories each week. Click here to see what he had to say about The Adventure of the Red Circle, and click here to see more information about the Hounds.

 

Junior Sherlockian Society debuts  August 9, the 221st day of this year, marked the launch of the Junior Sherlockian Society, a creation of the Beacon Society, the longtime scion that brings the world of Sherlock Holmes to the world of education. The Junior Sherlockian Society is a terrific addition to Sherlockian study, inviting children and youth to complete Junior Sherlockian Training: an in-depth study of Sherlock Holmes’s character traits, observational skills, capacity for critical thought, and inductive and deductive reasoning. During the online training, Sherlockians-in-Training complete the 2-2-1-b tasks to explore, experience and extend their understanding and appreciation of the great detective. Upon completion of the tasks and submission of “training evidence,” a certificate of completion is granted. You can help spread the word about this wonderful opportunity. Tell all the young people you know--and their teachers--to check out the Junior Sherlockian Society website!

 

Is that a smoking gun, or are you just glad to see me?  In a recent Washington Post story, writers Marc Fisher and David Nakamura wondered whether Donald Trump, Jr.'s enthusiasm over the prospect of getting damaging information about Hillary Clinton from Russia constitutes a "smoking gun." They attributed "smoking gun" to Conan Doyle, pointing to the Yale Book of Quotations, which cites the 1894 Sherlock Holmes adventure "The Gloria Scott" as the genesis.

“we rushed on into the captain’s cabin, but as we pushed open the door there was an explosion from within, and there he lay with his brains smeared over the chart of the Atlantic, . . .while the chaplain stood with a smoking pistol in his hand. . .The whole business seemed to be settled.”

But a subsequent letter to the editor from Michael Ravnitzky of Silver Spring argues that the phrase was in use well before 1894. Ravnitzky says that a wry translation of the Chinese phrase for an opium pipe, “yen tsiang,” or “smoking pistol,” began to appear in the early 1850s. The phrase “smoking pistol” as implicit evidence of guilt shows up in a great number of often lurid court reports, articles and books from the 1880s and 1890s. Ah, well.

 
Scandalous Goings-on!   The Red Circle's June 23 dinner meeting featured a presentation by Alan Rettig entitled "A Scandal in Manhattan," which explored the big money TV quiz show scandal of the 1950s and how Sherlock Holmes became an unwitting victim of the deception on The $64,000 Question. For those who could not attend (and for those who did!) Alan has provided a text version of the presentation which you can read here. The paper includes a link to the kinescope film used in Alan's presentation. The document is also available via our "Writings" section.
 

Big Money Quiz Questions Now a Red Circle Challenge   As a follow-up to Alan Rettig's quiz show presentation, we're issuing our latest online quiz challenge here, based on Bobbye and Tom O'Rourke's (rigged) Sherlockian march to the big money on The $64,000 Question in 1956. We're providing all the questions asked of each O'Rourke here, from $64 to $16,000. Note that the document is two pages long. Take the test yourself, and submit your completed answers to Peter Blau for your chance at a trivial but heartfelt prize. We can't make the $32,000 questions part of the challenge, because the answers were revealed during Alan's talk. But for those interested in those questions, you can find them along with the answers here. Again, the document is two pages long.

 

Treasures Beneath the Surface   Your webmaster has been doing some housekeeping on our site lately, archiving older items and generally cleaning things up. The effort inspires a reminder that there's a lot here behind this front page. The best of what we've done since we "went live" almost seven years ago is available in our Writings and Archives sections, and our Sherlockian Links button takes you to an even wider world of Sherlockian doings. So here's your invitation to spend some time exploring beneath the surface. Happy clicking!

 

Baskerville's Back. . .and Back. . .and Back.  It was in early 2015 that Ken Ludwig's play Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery had its world premiere here at Washington's Arena Stage. Since then the madcap romp has had a North American vogue, boasting many productions at fine regional theatres coast to coast. Multi-Tony winner Ludwig has written hilarious comic hits for Broadway and the West End, but he's also a Shakespearian scholar and yes, a devoted Sherlockian and friend of The Red Circle. Those who didn't see Baskerville at Arena should note that there are several productions coming soon within driving distance of Washington. Click the dates on the list below for details of each:

February 11 Hylton Performing Arts Center, Manassas (production of Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre)

March 3 George Mason University, Fairfax (production of Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre) Tickets for this performance are available here, and the schedule for the full Walnut Street tour is available here.

March 4  Weinberg Center, Frederick, MD (production of Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre)

 

A Rare Poster for a Good Film  If you've ever used an Internet search engine to look for our Sherlock Holmes society here in Washington, it's likely that you've discovered the film Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943) as well as The Red Circle of Washington. The film stars Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, and is well worth watching. It turns up occasionally on television, and you can find it easily at YouTube, in English and dubbed into Italian, Spanish, and German. For the best look at it, the 2003 digitally remastered DVD version done at UCLA, available for purchase or via Netflix, is superb. To see some amusing continuity errors pay special attention to the sequence showing Holmes and Watson traveling from National Airport to their hotel. Much more important to see all the landmarks than to drive a sensible route! This beautiful and rare poster, known as "the uncommon variant," sold at Heritage Auctions on July 29 for $2,509.50, including the buyer's premium. The only other known copy sold on Nov. 21, 2015 for $2,151.00. It's ironic that a copy of the much more common variant sold on July 30, 2016 for $4,780.00:

 
X Marks the Puzzle  Our own Verna Suit, who pens crossword puzzles for Mystery Scene Magazine (see below), presented her latest stumper at this year's Scintillation of Scions. Verna calls the puzzle "X", and she invites all of us to give it a try. You'll find the puzzle here, and the first correct solutions sent to Peter Blau will be rewarded with the customary trivial but heartfelt prizes. The solution will be provided here in due course.
 
Remember me in Leicester Square  London's Leicester Square, known to many of us as ground zero for discount theatre tickets, is now a Sherlockian hot spot as well. The Red Circle's Mary Burke spotted Sherlock in familiar plastic bricks at the Lego store in Swiss Court. Mary reports that this version of Mr. Holmes stands about four feet tall.
 
 
A Sherlockian Puzzle  One of the nice features of Mystery Scene Magazine is the crossword puzzle in each issue. The Red Circle's own Verna Suit has contributed a nicely crafted Sherlockian puzzle called "A Case of Identity." You can find it--and complete it--here.
  
Dana Cameron Goes Page to Screen  Mystery author and Red Circle member Dana Cameron has written a six-book series about archaeologist Emma Fielding, and there's a television film based on the first book in the series coming up on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries cable channel on June 4.  You can find her website here, where you'll learn much more about the Emma Fielding series and Dana's other books and short stories.


 
Harrison "Terry" Hunt was the guest of The Red Circle on March 10. He spoke on the "Long Island Cave Mystery" a case that was mentioned but not described in The Red Circle's namesake story. Carla Coupe has summarized Terry's talk, and you can find it here.
 
  • Scuttlebutt: One Fixed Point in a Changing Age  Our own Peter Blau's monthly Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press has endured for some 45 years, and has a permanent home right here on our website. It's the most remarkable collection of Sherlockian news and notes anywhere, and your webmaster recommends a monthly visit. The very latest edition is available now, as are past numbers casino. It's just a click away--use the "Scuttlebutt" button at the top of the page.
  • Be an Inner Circle Contributor We welcome submissions from all quarters for this page. Please direct materials to the webmaster, alan@redcircledc.org
  • For earlier, archived items from The Inner Circle, click here.