Bob Burr holding honorary Survivors' membership certificate
Lunch with Bob Burr (left), Joel, Kathy Carter, Carolyn, the legendary Brad Keefauver.
Where else, Peoria!!
During his lifetime, the late, great Bob Burr achieved many things, not the least of which was co-authoring The Punishment of Sherlock Holmes. Nonetheless, we would feel remiss if we did not mention at least two other notable Burr achievements which have come to our attention.
1. As most folks know, Bob Burr was a member of that most prestigious Sherlockian organization, the Baker Street Irregulars ("The Rascally Lascar") yet, he never attended a BSI dinner. He was in absentia even at the dinner at which he was invested!!
2. We have it on excellent authority that Bob Burr was expelled from The Hounds of the Internet on FIVE separate occasions! We were further informed that these expulsions were for "inappropriate levity" in his Hound postings. We believe this to be a world's record. If anyone has information as to someone else who has been expelled from The Hounds more than five times, we'd appreciate knowing about it
Doyle vs. Clemens: A New Perspective
Often called “the father of American literature,” Samuel Clemens (also known as Mark Twain) was born in Missouri in 1835 and died in Connecticut in 1910. His best-known works are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, published in 1876, and its sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, published in 1885.
Until the publication of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby in 1925, Clemens’ Huckleberry Finn had been known, for 40 years, as “The Great American Novel.” It is not unlikely that Clemens himself gave it that name! A proud man who came from humble beginnings, Clemens was already at the peak of his popularity when Arthur Conan Doyle appeared on the scene in 1887. It is clear that Clemens did not appreciate this upstart newcomer, who quickly threatened to steal his literary thunder. In his many speaking tours, both at home and abroad, Clemens never missed an opportunity to put down or one-up his British counterpart. For example, when the press made a big deal out of Doyle’s budding friendship with Harry Houdini, Clemens pointed out that his own circle of friends included both Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla.
In 1891, Doyle published A Case of Identity, in which his fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, uses the unique characteristics of a typewriter (then a fairly new device) to identify a killer. Clemens immediately boasted that he had been using a typewriter for years -- and that, in fact, Tom Sawyer was “the first-ever novel to be written on a typewriter.” When confronted with evidence that this simply was not true, Clemens recanted. He then claimed it was Life on the Mississippi, published much later, which he had written on a typewriter. In fact, handwritten notes to friends and colleagues reveal that, while he owned a series of typewriters, Clemens never really got the hang of actually using one; and under deadline, he regularly dictated his stories to a male clerk -- or scrivener, as they were known at the time.
Clemens not only belittled Conan Doyle in his speaking engagements; he also attacked Doyle in writing. In 1889, just two years after the first appearance of Doyle’s wildly popular “Sherlock Holmes” character, Clemens published a work of science fiction titled A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. In this tale, an ingenious American travels back through time to medieval England, where he stuns the backward British population with his thorough knowledge of science and modern technology. To many readers, the “ingenious Yankee” was Clemens himself (who lived in Connecticut at the time) and “King Arthur” was not Arthur of Camelot, but Arthur Conan Doyle – the implication being that astute American readers are not as easily duped as their British counterparts.
If you doubt this interpretation, consider a subsequent attack on Doyle that was not nearly so subtle: In 1902, Clemens published A Double-Barreled Detective Story. In this satiric tale, Sherlock Holmes finds himself in a California mining town, where Clemens has him using his investigative methods to a ridiculously exaggerated degree -- resulting in a completely wrong conclusion. How did Doyle react to this so-called “feud”? For the most part, he took the high road and ignored it. However, a clue to Doyle’s annoyance with Clemens can be found in the way that Sherlock Holmes treats the subject of fingerprints.
As most Sherlockians are aware, Holmes and Doyle were years ahead of their time when it came to utilizing such forensic methods as blood analysis, ballistics, toxicology, chemical or microscopic analysis of minutia, unique physical characteristics, and so on. Yet even though fingerprinting experienced a meteoric rise in the early 1900s, Doyle barely mentions it. In fact, in Sherlock’s 60 cases, a fingerprint comes into play only once (more on that in a moment). Why does one of the era’s major breakthroughs in criminal investigation methods not play a more significant role in the Sherlock Holmes Casebook? The answer is simple: Because Clemens beat Doyle to the punch!
In 1893, Clemens published The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson and the Comedy of the Extraordinary Twins. In one of the book’s story arcs, David Wilson is a small-town Missouri lawyer who, for no apparent reason, enjoys the curious life-long hobby of collecting fingerprints. To make a long story short: two babies, from different families, are switched at birth. One grows up as the heir to riches, the other endures an upbringing amid abject poverty and ridicule. In adulthood, one man turns out to be “good,” the other is “bad.” Eventually, one is accused of murder. Is it the right one? Only Pudd’nhead Wilson knows for sure!
In Doyle’s Case of the Norwood Builder (the only Sherlock Holmes story in which fingerprints play even a minor role in the solution of the crime), a bloody thumb-print found at the scene turns out to be a red herring – a phony clue, made by a wax reproduction, planted to lead the detective astray. Published in 1903 (10 years after Pudd’nhead Wilson, but just one year after Double-Barrelled Detective Story), The Norwood Builder was Doyle’s way of “pooh-poohing” Clemens, like a cow swishing its tail to swat away a pesky fly.
“Doyle vs. Clemens” is the sixth and latest addition to the offerings on the Book Talks menu for Jeff’s popular “Elementary, My Dear Watson! (Investigating Sherlock Holmes)” multimedia program. See details at cccaper.com. The original appeared March 12 on a Blog maintained by the Great Rivers Authors Group in St. Cloud, MN (of which I am a contributing member).
(Ed's note: The view expressed in this essay are those of Mr. Clemens, as expressed by Jeff Falkingham, and do not necessarily express the views of these E-Times editors.)
For the Tues. June 27, 2017, 6 pm to 9 pm dinner meeting of the Torists International, a Sherlock Holmes scion society
Ridgemoor Country Club, a sophisticated and sporty venue for this sports-themed gathering.
6601 W. Gunnison
On May 21 both The Giant Rats of Sumatra and the Crew of the Barque Lone Star
celebrated Arthur Conan Doyle Day
Giant Rats' invitation
(Thanks, Robert Campbell.)
The Crew's acknowledgement of appreciation to ACD
(Thanks Steve Mason.)
“On June 3d, that is, on Monday last, McCarthy left his house at Hatherley about three in the afternoon . . . (BOSC)
There are current issues of many Sherlockian newsletters and Journals for which the world is quite prepared: Consider, the following, please:
Scott Monty's "I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere"
"Canadian Holmes"; from the Toronto Bootmakers
"Groans, Cries and Bleatings," The Baker Street Breakfast Club
"South Downers Journal, " South Downers
"The Bilge Pump," Crew of the Barque Lone Star (The Crew's web site)
"Gaslight Gazette," Survivors of the Gloria Scott
"Ineffable Twaddle," The Sound of the Baskervilles (Check out the SOB's web site.)
The District Messenger," Sherlock Holmes Society of London (SHSofL web site)
"The PINK 'UN, the Hansom Wheels of Columbia, SC (now published on the internet)
"Scuttlebutt from the Spermacetti Press," Peter Blau (can now be read on line, Click Here)
(BTW: speaking of Peter Blau, you might find it interesting to check out The Red Circle's web site!
Willis Frick's inimitable web site, Sherlocktron
Chris Redmond's site: http://sherlockian.net/
Click the cover graphic
to visit Liese's most interesting
A True Knock-Out
In three stories in the canon, someone is incapacitated by chloroform. Lady France Carfax almost dies from breathing the fumes while hidden in a coffin, Holmes captures German agent Von Bork with a sponge soaked in it, and Mary Maberley is overcome with a rag held over her mouth. While ether and chloroform were both developed and introduced as anesthesia at about the same time, chloroform achieved greater popularity and was more widely used throughout the 1800s.
In 1831, chloroform was developed almost simultaneously in the US by Samuel Guthrie, in France by Eugene Soubeiran, and in Germany by Justus von Liebig. Guthrie, however, published his findings first and is given credit for the process. Seeking a cheap pesticide, he used a home-made distillation apparatus to create “chloric ether” from chloride of lime and whiskey. Following its development, he freely shared the resulting pleasant-tasting spirit with his friends, which they imbibed a number of times over the next six months to determine its effects. He considered it a stimulus, but did report to his daughter that she was the first to receive it to reduce her pain.
He also sent samples to a number of physicians for additional experiments as to its uses. Dr. Eli Ives reported using it for asthma in 1832, but its use as an anesthesia was not determined until 1847 when Dr. James Simpson and two other physicians opened one of Guthrie’s sample bottles and inhaled deeply. When they came to the next morning, they announced they had found a substitute for sulphuric ether, introduced as an anesthetic only the year before.
While ether had also served as an anesthetic, chloroform gained greater popularity because it was faster-acting and non-flammable. It was used extensively in the US during the Civil War and after Simpson used it on a patient during childbirth, it became popular enough for Queen Victoria to use it during the delivery of her eighth child, Prince Leopold, in 1853. She inhaled the anesthetic from a handkerchief and declared afterwards, it was “delightful beyond measure,” and never had she recovered so quickly.
Despite the royal seal of approval, the use of chloroform was not without risk or controversy. The first fatality related to chloroform occurred in 1848 when a fifteen-year-old girl died after being administered the drug. It was not until 1911 that it was determined chloroform caused cardiac fibrillation. While fatal complications were estimated at 1in 3000 to 6000 administrations (vs. 1 in 14,000 to 28,000 for ether), it was still the go-to anesthetic in the UK and German-speaking countries between 1865 to 1920, with 80-95% of all narcoses performed using the compound.
Chloroform’s administration had always been problematic. Too much, and the patient died. Too little and the patient remained awake. Decline in the use of chloroform occurred in the 1930s as inhalation equipment improved and anesthetics such as nitrous oxide were introduced for safer, more effective narcosis. By 1976, the end of chloroform’s use was officially marked by its removal from medical texts.
Current estimates suggest it can take as long as ten minutes for a person to succumb, but popular Victorian press and fiction propagated the myth of the compound’s instantaneous effects. As for overdoses, Dr. Watson noted the use of ether to assist in reviving Lady Carfax. This was proposed by August Fabre [no known relationship to this author] in 1857, but could not be shown to be effective in a series of experiments and actually appeared to aggravate the symptoms. Regardless, the allure of the drug’s true benefits and uses led to chloroform’s pervasive appearance among the criminal element in Sherlockian tales.
Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Complete Sherlock Holmes: with an introduction from Robert Ryan (Kindle Location 27245). Simon & Schuster UK.
A. G. Hart, “Chloroform Discovered by Dr. Samuel Guthrie, an American Physician,” St. Louis Clinique: A Monthly Journal of Clinical Medicine and Surgery, Volume 19, pages 132-135.
Stephanie Snow, Blessed Days of Anaesthesia. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
W.W. Morland and Francis Minot (eds.) The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, Volume LV. Boston: David Clapp Pubisher, 1857, page 86.
The next meeting of the Agra Treasurers will be at Airway Kitchen, 4918 Airway Road (937-640-1330). We will meet on Sunday June 25 at 1 PM. I have reserved the space to the left of the cash register as you enter the restaurant (where we met last time). If you get the Dayton Daily News, watch for coupons.
Stanley will give a quiz on "The Red-Headed League."
IDENTIFY THAT CHARACTER
for June, we asked
What canonical character might have said,
"Sounds like a great plan, John, but what the heck are we going to do with all that dirt?
From Anders Odensten: Archie (alias Duncan Ross and William Morris) might have said that when John Clay (alias Vincent Spaulding) presented his plan to dig a tunnel in order to rob the City branch of the City and Suburban Bank in London (REDH).
From Ed Lear: Can't tell for sure, but that sounds like Archie to me.
From Jerry Riggs: Duncan Ross's possible inquiry to John Clay in The Adventure of the Red Headed League. And well might he ask; I'm wondering myself.
From Paul Hartnett: That line might have been spoken by Archie to criminal mastermind John Clay in REDH.
From Deidre Chattler: Duncan Ross or Archie
From Robert Perret: Sounds like the diabolical redhead William Morris to me.
(Archie? William Morris? Duncan Ross? Why do we have so many different answers this month?)
Thanks a million and kudos to your canonical acumen!
Now, for July, What canonical character might have said:
"Let me explain, Lord Robert. It was like this. Back in '84 . . . "
Click Here to respond.
Please put the word "Character" on your subject line. Thanks.
Important Sherlockian Events for June
3rd - McCarthy left his house at Hatherley about three in the afternoon and walked down to the Boscombe Pool .
4th - First bust of Napoleon smashed in Morse Hudson's shop - 1900
7th - Movie Dressed to Kill with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce released - 1946
13th - Basil Rathbone born (1892)
The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes published , John Murray - 1927
21st - Bob Burr born - 1930
21st - William Cochran born
21st - NPR broadcasts "The Red Circle" with Hobbs and Shelley - 1982
24th - Date given by John McMurdo for his induction as a Freeman - 1872 (What Lodge?)
24th - Randall Getz born
25th - Joel Senter born
28th - Coronation of Queen Victoria - 1838
28th - The Criterion Bar Association (Chicago) founded - 1972
30th - The last Holmes radio broadcast with Nigel Bruce as Watson (Tom Conway was Holmes) - 1947
The Torists International will meet June, 27 at 6:00 pm.
Reservations ($38.00) by June 20 to
Patricia Izban, 1012 Rene Court, Park Ridge, IL 60068
Cincinnati's Tankerville Club will meet
Panera Bread Co.
1006 Route 28 (just north of Milford)
(Panera closes at 9:30, and does not serve "adult beverages.")
All the best from our
home to yours.
"Cat who tries to catch two mice at one time, goes without supper" Charlie Chan