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"It is fortunate for this community that I am not a criminal."[BRUC] Sherlock Holmes certainly ran with a rough crowd. Burglars, murderers, blackmailers, thieves, spies, kidnappers, and even politicians. Given his store of criminal knowledge, what stopped him from becoming a criminal himself? Wait just a moment; while his cause was justice, his pra…
 
“a sharp touch of brain-fever” [MUSG] Inspired by two sources of Sherlockian medical scholarship, we decided to discuss brain fever. What was brain fever, medically speaking? And why does it only rear its head in Victorian literature? Was it an actual affliction, or just a literary device? It's just a Trifle. Please consider supporting our efforts …
 
“Apply 221B, Baker Street” [NAVA] Last week, we left you hanging with Vincent Starrett's chapter in his book The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. We couldn't leave it unfinished, so we're back with the second half. And a special treat at the conclusion of the episode—also with a 221B theme. It's just a Trifle. Find Trifles wherever you listen to po…
 
“I have my eye on a suite in Baker Street” [STUD] There is no question that 221B Baker Street is the most famous address in all of fiction. What makes it interesting is its non-existence at the time of the stories' publications, and legions of fans attempting to determine its actual location afterward. Vincent Starrett was a huge fan of this game. …
 
“some creature of the weasel and stoat tribe” [CROO] There was a fad in mid-century Victorian England that led to pets becoming more common. But the third week of each month, our episodes focus not on everyday household animals but rare and unusual creatures. In this case, we focus on a member of the family Herpestidae. Namely, the mongoose. Making…
 
“rarefied heights of pure mathematics” [VALL] As we know, James Moriarty was a professor of mathematics. We know little about his academic appointment, other than having to step down from a chair. What we do know is he has two publications to his name. What are they, and what do they tell us about Moriarty's approach to a life of crime. They're jus…
 
“I return with an excellent appetite” [BLAC] The Sherlock Holmes stories are a cornucopia of content. A smorgasbord of smarts. A full menu of fulfillment. So it shouldn't be terribly surprising that we find buffets mentioned in the Canon. Perhaps you skipped over the Canonical buffet line. We can't blame you. The references are fleeting, at best. A…
 
“Our own colours, green and white.” [WIST] Yes, the circle was red, the study was scarlet and the pips were orange. But there are so many other colors (or colours) to explore in the Sherlock Holmes stories. Conan Doyle did a masterful job of using color to give us a vivid sense of the settings. But more than that, what does his use of various color…
 
“It is a nice household,” he murmured. “That is the baboon.” [SPEC] It seems that Dr. Grimesby Roylott had a bit of a wild side. Killed a man in India. Threw a blacksmith off a small bridge. Had a cheetah and baboon wandering his grounds. You know, as one does. As we looked at the animals in detail, we came across a startling detail about Roylott's…
 
“There are certainly one or two indications upon the stick.” [HOUN] Walking sticks were once fashionable. They were just as necessary as a pair of gloves and a hat in a gentleman's daily attire in Victorian England. But they also served a practical purpose from time to time. And Sherlock Holmes was able to use these personal effects as clue givers.…
 
“shoes, but no socks.” [PRIO] Over the course of our first four seasons, we covered a wide variety of haberdashery: dressing gowns, clothes, disguises, and hats, to name a few. But we haven't covered anything related to footwear (unless you count that fleeting reference to tennis shoes in Episode 119). Shoes, boots, and slippers are a few of the ki…
 
“I can tell a Moriarty when I see one.” [VALL] Quick: in "The Final Problem," what is the name of Sherlock Holmes's arch-rival? Yes, we know it's Professor Moriarty, but what's his first name? If you said "James," you'd be wrong. Would you be surprised to learn that he has not only one, but two brothers, at least one of whom is also named James? It…
 
“His life as been academic” [CREE] Sherlock Holmes and academic affairs are, well, elementary. [Sorry] But have you considered those who hold the title "professor" when it comes to the stories? Of course you know Professor Moriarty. But there are only two others, which is a tad surprising, given the stories that involved the academy. It's just a Tr…
 
“you could not celebrate him without being known yourself.” [HOUN] Every year, the Baker Street Irregulars meet in early January to celebrate Sherlock Holmes's birthday. Why January, or more specifically January 6? It's an interesting story. We discuss what factors may support that supposition and highlight the scholarship that helped us arrive at …
 
“As I expected, his reply was typewritten” [IDEN] While handwriting was and is distinctive enough for a detective like Sherlock Holmes to draw some inferences, typography isn't quite so forgiving. Whether it was through fonts used in newspapers or flourishes of individual typewriters ("the fourteen other characteristics to which I have alluded are …
 
“Have you ever had occasion to study character in handwriting?” [SIGN] More than once, Sherlock Holmes used someone's handwriting to guide him toward a solution. Whether it was a hastily-scribbled legal document or a red herring of a note, he was able to discern certain facts by observing the handwriting. But was this a mere fiction, a literary lic…
 
“Holmes smiled and rubbed his hands” [WIST] Sherlock Holmes enjoyed breakfast. But it was often interrupted. He had a variable knowledge of botany but knew enough to feel chagrined for missing green peas at 7:30. What can we tell about Sherlock Holmes's food habits from Earle Walbridge's essay from 1940 titled "The Care and Feeding of Sherlock Holm…
 
“Holmes smiled and rubbed his hands” [WIST] Did Sherlock Holmes care about teeth? There's evidence that he cared about his own teeth, as seen through his recommendation of dental hygiene, and through his remark about losing a tooth. But what about the potential of dental science as applied to the art of detection? Sherlock Holmes had the potential …
 
“sinister atmosphere of forgotten nations,” [DEVI] It's not quite a holiday for Sherlock Holmes in "The Devil's Foot," but rather a time away from London to be able to recuperate. "The villages which dotted this part of Cornwall" gave a quaint, other-worldly feeling to the setting. But so too did the traces of "some vanished race which had passed u…
 
“I have my eye on a suite in Baker Street” [STUD] In the first part of this two-episode series, we looked at the Baker Street area of Victorian London and the changes that it has seen in the century and a half since that time. This time, we sharpen our powers of observation and search for the specific address that must have stood in for 221B Baker …
 
“we made our way back to Baker Street” [3GAR] The address is legendary. Synonymous with its famous inhabitant, just as the deerstalker and meerschaum pipe. But it may be just as fanciful as those two accoutrements. This is the first in a two-part discussion of Baker Street of the Victorian era, and where Sherlock Holmes was supposed to have lived. …
 
“Holmes, a child has done this horrid thing” [SIGN] Many of us find our way to the Sherlock Holmes stories as children, yet there is a decided absence of children in the Canon. When we do find them, they tend to be in service of furthering a plot point rather than as fully developed characters. There are perhaps one or two exceptions, but children …
 
“I desire you to spare no expense and no pains” [WIST] Sherlock Holmes had to go places, see people, investigate things. And doing so meant that he incurred expenses. If we itemized what some of these were—absent the specific amount—what would that tell us about Sherlock Holmes? Where did he go? How did he travel? Where did get get the funding when…
 
“Yes, this is the great Agra” [SIGN] It's where Jonathan Small met Mahomet Singh, Dost Akbar and Abdullah Khan and together they made a pact known as the Sign of the Four. The Fort of Agra, in the city of the same name. Small described it as a queer and enormous place, with deserted halls and winding passages. In other words, the perfect setting fo…
 
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