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.
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:
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.
Six Napoleons Welcomes Women As the 21st century progresses, word comes that one of the few remaining stag Sherlockian societies, The Six Napoleons of Baltimore, has decided to go co-ed. The move advances the inclusive trend that welcomes Sherlockians to our worldwide clubhouses without regard to demographic distinctions or other qualifications, whether disclosed or not. Your webmaster applauds this expansion of Baker Street’s big tent, especially because he has occasionally pointed out that for more than seven decades The Six Napoleons denied membership to people with busts!
"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.
Here are items that have appeared on our front page feature section, "The Inner Circle," in 2017. We have included those items that may have some continuing interest; however, some of the links in the items may no longer function due to the removal from the internet of the underlying material.
To review the archives of other sections of our website, click here