"Every writer owes something to Holmes."
-- T.S. Eliot, in The Criterion, 1929
Thomas Stearns Eliot, the great Anglo-American poet, was born on this date in 1888, the year in which The Sign of Four and other Holmes-Watson adventures took place.
He wrote the above in a review of The Complete Sherlock Holmes Short Stories in which his affection for the Canon was obvious. Also obvious is that his own writing was much influenced by the Master.
The best known link, perhaps, is Eliot's verse "Macavity: The Mystery Cat" in Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, upon which the musical Cats was based. There's no doubt who Macavity is, because the verse ends with the phrase "the Napoleon of Crime."
In Eliot's play, Murder in the Cathedral, there's an enigmatic exchange between Beckett and The Second Tempter that closely resembles the Musgrave Ritual.
And in his poem Easter Coker, Eliot uses the word "grimpen," which apparently has its origin in the Great Grimpen Mire in The Hound of the Baskervilles.
For years I have kept a copy of Murder in the Cathedral in my Sherlock Holmes library. Perhaps I should move my copy of T.S. Eliot: The Complete Poems and Plays there as well.
Side note: I am now writing a sequel to No Police Like Holmes which takes place during this very week of September, 2011. In it we learn that today is also the birthday of my narrator/"Watson," Thomas Jefferson Cody. He just narrowly escaped having Stearns for a middle name!
If you have read No Police Like Holmes, please write a review on Amazon.com, no matter where you purchased it. Thanks!