Sometimes I contemplate an alternate timeline where “Sherlock” never existed and wonder whether “Endeavour” and its star Shaun Evans may have claimed whatever secret chamber in our hearts that Benedict Cumberbatch’s detective conquered.
The two detectives have a few things in common, after all. Sherlock Holmes and Endeavour Morse are two of many crime-solvers adapted from literature featured under the “Masterpiece Mystery!” tent recently interpreted as younger men in their prime.
Each has a long relationship with television, although Holmes’ overcoat has been worn by an assortment of actors. Morse is associated with two: Evans and the late John Thaw, who originated the character in “Inspector Morse,” which aired from 1987 through 1993, and was revived for five special installments that ran between 1995 and 2000.
Opinion by Roy Schwartz, Updated 2:06 PM ET, Fri May 20, 2022
(CNN) May 22 is “Sherlock Holmes Day,” honoring the birthday of his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Holmes, who turns 135 this year, is one of the most famous literary characters in the world and probably the most famous detective.
He’s come to be referenced as a historical figure rather than a fictional one (often at the expense of his actual author), with countless legends surrounding him. Perhaps the most popular is that he invented modern forensic science.
This particular aspect of Holmes lore has been addressed in articles, books, documentaries, and college courses and is even cited by forensic experts. But is it really true?
If he did, it would mean that, aside from entertaining generations of readers and viewers and inspiring dozens of other popular characters like Batman and House, M.D., he also deserves credit for helping solve thousands, if not millions, of crimes in the real world.
“The game is afoot” at a NYC Sherlock Holmes exhibit
It wasn’t easy for Glen Miranker to select what to share from his Sherlockian trove when he and his wife, Cathy, created the exhibit, “Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects,” now on display at the Grolier Club in New York City.
A former executive at Apple, Miranker has amassed a treasure of Holmesiana – first editions, pirated copies, illustrations, and letters – that today comprises about 8,000 objects.
The Grolier Club, a private society for bibliophiles on the Upper East Side, with its marble foyer and dark wood-panelled gallery, would be a fine stage for a nineteenth-century fictional murder, perhaps done in the library with a candlestick, most certainly involving a will.
On January 12th, an exhibit called “Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects” opened there. It features a proper Baker Street-number of items from the collection of Glen S. Miranker, a former executive at Apple, who has been buying all manner of things Holmesian since 1977.
There are a number of Arthur Conan Doyle’s letters; an “idea book” in which he jotted notes for possible future stories; and a never-before-displayed speech, written by hand, in which Conan Doyle talks about why he killed off Holmes. There are also handwritten manuscript pages and a pirated copy of “The Sign of the Four,” which Conan Doyle apparently signed, despite loathing the pirating practice.
Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born on May 22, 1859, in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The Doyles were a prosperous Irish-Catholic family. Charles Altamont Doyle, Arthur’s father, a chronic alcoholic, was a moderately successful artist, who apart from fathering a brilliant son, never accomplished anything of note.
At the age of twenty-two, Charles had married Mary Foley, a vivacious and well educated young woman of seventeen. Mary Doyle had a passion for books and was a master storyteller. Her son Arthur wrote of his mother’s gift of “sinking her voice to a horror-stricken whisper” when she reached the culminating point of a story. There was little money in the family and even less harmony on account of his father’s excesses and erratic behaviour.
Arthur’s touching description of his mother’s beneficial influence is also poignantly described in his autobiography, “In my early childhood, as far as I can remember anything at all, the vivid stories she would tell me stand out so clearly that they obscure the real facts of my life.”