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Sydney Passengers - Latest Log


An Entirely New Country has been reviewed in The Passengers' Log. I've been a 'passenger' since 2009 and I have always been impressed by the society journal. No I'm not just saying that because they've reviewed my book. If you're not a member you really should be as the fee is very reasonable. In fact, do it now, join now here.





For more information on Arthur Conan Doyle and his time at Undershaw please refer to my book, An Entirely New Country which is available through all good bookstores including Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Classic Specialities, and in all electronic formats including iTunes, Kobo, Nook and Kindle .

The Norwood Author is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Waterstones UK, Amazon UK,  Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon Kindle, iBooks for the iPad/iPhone, Kobo Books, Nook.

Close to Holmes is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USABarnes and NobleAmazon UKWaterstones UKAmazon KindleKoboNook  and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.

Eliminate the Impossible is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK, Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.

Undershaw


Apparently it's for sale again.



For more information on Arthur Conan Doyle and his time at Undershaw please refer to my book, An Entirely New Country which is available through all good bookstores including Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Classic Specialities, and in all electronic formats including iTunes, Kobo, Nook and Kindle .

The Norwood Author is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Waterstones UK, Amazon UK,  Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon Kindle, iBooks for the iPad/iPhone, Kobo Books, Nook.

Close to Holmes is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USABarnes and NobleAmazon UKWaterstones UKAmazon KindleKoboNook  and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.

Eliminate the Impossible is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK, Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.

Look what I just received




For more information on Arthur Conan Doyle and his time at Undershaw please refer to my book, An Entirely New Country which is available through all good bookstores including Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Classic Specialities, and in all electronic formats including iTunes, Kobo, Nook and Kindle .

The Norwood Author is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Waterstones UK, Amazon UK,  Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon Kindle, iBooks for the iPad/iPhone, Kobo Books, Nook.

Close to Holmes is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USABarnes and NobleAmazon UKWaterstones UKAmazon KindleKoboNook  and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.

Eliminate the Impossible is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK, Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.

The Copper Beeches - autobiographical or not?


The Adventure of The Copper Beeches has always been of interest to me as it should have been the end of Holmes. Conan Doyle had originally intended to bring Holmes to an end at the conclusion of the first set of short-stories and had written as much to his mother. Mary Doyle convinced her son not to kill Holmes off and, according to him, suggested a plot involving the discovery of some cut hair.

Conan Doyle gave way and wrote The Copper Beeches instead. The story appears to me to contain some auto-biographical references or parallels. Were these conscious on the part of Conan Doyle or am I just reading too much into a coincidence?

Let’s see….

Violet Hunter is offered a large wage by Rucastle that is well above the going rate for a governess in order to tempt her to accept. Is this a parallel with the above-average money that Conan Doyle was being paid by The Strand to produce Holmes adventures. Was Rucastle, in some senses at least, a character representing The Strand Magazine and its management?

The idea that Violet Hunter must sacrifice her hair, which she holds dear, in order to secure the high salary, has a parallel with Conan Doyle. He was also making a sacrifice for money. In his case the sacrifice was the chance to escape Holmes and concentrate on the historical novels that he felt was his true calling.



At the end of the story Violet Hunter is removed or ‘saved’ from the Copper Beeches and goes on to considerable success as the head of a girls’ school. Was this Conan Doyle suggesting that he would go onto considerable success when he eventually freed himself of Holmes? I accept that this is quite tenuous.

Towards the end of the story when Holmes feels that his involvement in matters has come to an end he says to Watson:

“…it seems to me that our locus standi now is rather a questionable one.”

Now locus standi refers to the right in law to appear and be heard. Holmes was clearly using it to refer to their continued presence at the Copper Beeches. However, it could also be seen as Holmes referring to his position in the eyes of his creator. Conan Doyle’s interest in Holmes being seen or heard was clearly running out.

So is all the above a sign of conscious intent on the part of Conan Doyle or mere coincidence?




For more information on Arthur Conan Doyle and his time at Undershaw please refer to my book, An Entirely New Country which is available through all good bookstores including Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Classic Specialities, and in all electronic formats including iTunes, Kobo, Nook and Kindle .

The Norwood Author is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Waterstones UK, Amazon UK,  Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon Kindle, iBooks for the iPad/iPhone, Kobo Books, Nook.

Close to Holmes is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USABarnes and NobleAmazon UKWaterstones UKAmazon KindleKoboNook  and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.

Eliminate the Impossible is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK, Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.

Dame Jean Conan Doyle: Her Father in Her Own Words


The website of the Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. has published, in two extracts, some words of his youngest daughter - Dame Jean Conan Doyle. They are very interesting and I urge you to read them.


Her comments on the various biographies of her father, especially the ones she disliked, are fascinating and leaves one wondering what she would have thought of ones own efforts.





For more information on Arthur Conan Doyle and his time at Undershaw please refer to my book, An Entirely New Country which is available through all good bookstores including Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Classic Specialities, and in all electronic formats including iTunes, Kobo, Nook and Kindle .

The Norwood Author is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Waterstones UK, Amazon UK,  Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon Kindle, iBooks for the iPad/iPhone, Kobo Books, Nook.

Close to Holmes is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USABarnes and NobleAmazon UKWaterstones UKAmazon KindleKoboNook  and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.

Eliminate the Impossible is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK, Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.

How does Arthur Conan Doyle live on?


I've just posted a link to an article from the Telegraph that was posted in May of this year. It can be seen on my scoop.it page. It concerns the future of Undershaw which, as my regular readers know, is something I go on about rather a lot.

In keeping with modern custom, there were a large number of reader comments appended to the bottom of said article. As per usual, a lot more chaff than wheat was to be found but one comment stood out for me.

The poster, who was clearly against the idea of saving the house, remarked that we don’t need a house to remember Conan Doyle as he lives on through his works.

A nice sentiment but does he really? The name lives on yes but is that the same as the author living on?

One of the reasons Conan Doyle sought to kill off Holmes was that he found Holmes to be an obstacle to his career perhaps even to his life (i.e. the living of it). Holmes had become so real to the readers of The Strand Magazine that their demand for more stories prevented his creator moving on to other things.

The upshot was that Conan Doyle the man was eclipsed by his own creation who was deemed more important by the general public.

This state of affairs is as true now as it was then. There are people out there who know every last thing about Sherlock Holmes but know next to nothing about his creator. If this is the definition of an author living on through his work then I question its accuracy. In reality this is the character living on, not the author.

Over time authors start to become almost mythical, their works increasingly (and inevitably) read by people born long after they themselves died. Their names are known or at least dimly recognized but beyond that people know little, if anything, about them. A good way to keep these authors, to a certain extent, rooted on earth is to preserve something of the physical world they lived in. People might argue that Conan Doyle has been the subject of many biographies (I know, I've written two) and that therefore his life is well documented but a biography is, ultimately, just a factual story and, as time passes and the world moves on, it becomes as impossible to prove it to be true as the latest Harry Potter (perhaps the only modern creation to come close to eclipsing his creator).


This is where physical evidence comes in. Charles Dickens’ birthplace in Portsmouth and his London house are both dedicated museums where his personal effects can be seen and his world, to a certain extent, can be experienced. What does Conan Doyle have? There is a grave – yes but this is evidence of his death not his life. 

Undershaw represents a place where, over ten years, he created much that we still enjoy today. The house he designed and in which he walked, ate, slept and wrote will, when combined with documentary and photographic evidence, allow him to truly live on. People will then be able to see him as a human being and not just as the man who gave us Sherlock Holmes.




For more information on Arthur Conan Doyle and his time at Undershaw please refer to my book, An Entirely New Country which is available through all good bookstores including Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Classic Specialities, and in all electronic formats including iTunes, Kobo, Nook and Kindle .

The Norwood Author is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Waterstones UK, Amazon UK,  Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon Kindle, iBooks for the iPad/iPhone, Kobo Books, Nook.

Close to Holmes is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USABarnes and NobleAmazon UKWaterstones UKAmazon KindleKoboNook  and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.

Eliminate the Impossible is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK, Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.

Sherlock as a brand


It was actor Richard E. Grant, in a documentary entitled Elementary My Dear Viewer, who remarked that Sherlock Holmes had become a brand. Now he was almost certainly not the first person to make this statement but it is no less interesting for that.
Richard E. Grant

Only recently we have seen the launch of a BBC Sherlock version of Cluedo but that is, of course, slightly different. That is the use of a TV version of Sherlock Holmes as branding rather than the original article.

So what is the original article? Well that is open to debate but for people in the UK it is probably the Holmes embodied by the illustrations of Sidney Paget. For those in the US it is probably the Holmes drawn by Frederic Dorr Steele which was based on the actor William Gillette.

Holmes by Paget (left) and Steele (right)

Now the Cluedo board game, as stated, is based on the BBC programme but a lot of the other items available today are based on the Holmes of the illustrations. As you can see, the items shown below, with the exception of the board game and tobacco, hark back to the original illustrations.

Sherlock Cluedo, fancy dress, rubber duck and Holmes tobacco
One of my personal favourites is the chess set which seems to be modelled, at least for some pieces, on the Paget illustrations (this is most obvious with the Moriarty piece).


Sherlock Holmes chess set

The tobacco is a perfect example of a product with nothing to link it to Holmes (apart from the fact that Holmes smoked) that will probably sell better purely  because of the name on the tin.

What is the maddest piece of Sherlock Holmes merchandise that you have seen or own? What have you seen that does not have even the most tenuous link and is still labelled with the Holmes name?



For more information on Arthur Conan Doyle and his time at Undershaw please refer to my book, An Entirely New Country which is available through all good bookstores including Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Classic Specialities, and in all electronic formats including iTunes, Kobo, Nook and Kindle .

The Norwood Author is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Waterstones UK, Amazon UK,  Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon Kindle, iBooks for the iPad/iPhone, Kobo Books, Nook.

Close to Holmes is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USABarnes and NobleAmazon UKWaterstones UKAmazon KindleKoboNook  and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.

Eliminate the Impossible is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK, Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.