|Bill Mason addresses the Tankerville Club of Cincinnati|
Some of the most interesting people I know are Sherlockians.
(That reminds me of the old story about the journalist who is told that he must meet the most interesting people in his line of work. “Yes, I do,” he replies, “and all of them journalists.)
Take Bill Mason, who spoke Friday at the summer meeting of the Tankerville Club of Cincinnati. He was a delightful house guest, an engaging conversationalist, and a wonderful after-dinner speaker. I’ve written about Bill before. As it happens, he began his career as a journalist (as did I) before going on to a career in government in Tennessee and D.C.
Bill entertained and enlightened an audience of 32 club members and guests Friday with a presentation called “Show-Off Holmes.” Displaying a masterful command of the Canon, he argued convincingly that the Sherlock Holmes wasn’t vain or egotistical – as portrayed by actors from Basil Rathbone to Benedict Cumberbatch – but just a show-off!
His dazzling scholarship is also on display in Bill’s second book, A Holmes by Any Other Name. In it, he catalogs a dazzling 561 parody names for the Great Detective, many of them from incredibly obscure sources. For example, my favorite – Sheerluck Hums – was created by a 14-year-old who produced in his own arts and letters journal in 1945.
If there were a prize for the most popular parody name, that would go to Herlock Sholmes. Bill records 30 usages, from the 1890s to about 2014. But that’s very close to the Herlock Shomes, which gets another 19 entries in Bill’s book!
You can hear Bill talk about this in his own charming voice on episode 168 of the I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere podcast.