Welcome! Like the book of the same name, this blog is an eclectic collection of Sherlockian scribblings based on more than a half-century of reading Sherlock Holmes. Please add your own thoughts. You can also follow me on Twitter @DanAndriacco and on my Facebook fan page at Dan Andriacco Mysteries. You might also be interested in my Amazon Author Page. My books are also available at Barnes & Noble and in all main electronic formats including Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks for the iPad.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Three Great Basils

Two of our grandchildren and Basil of Baker Street

Recently a friend of mine expressed shock that I couldn't remember the first name of a certain bourbon. That name is Basil, which indeed should be easy for any Sherlockian to remember. There are at least three great Basils that any friend of Mr. Sherlock Holmes should hold dear.

My friend was probably thinking of Basil Rathbone, the face and voice of Sherlock Holmes for an entire generation or more of Sherlockians. I first encountered Holmes in the written word and Sidney Paget illustraitons, but Rathbone was my first movie Holmes.

In my files I have a yellowed 1967 clipping of a New York Times story which appeared in my local newspaper. "Death Drops Curtain For Basil Rathbone," reads the headline. But there's an overline that says "Famed as Sherlock Holmes." Even in death he couldn't escape that connection, although the website devoted to him makes it clear that his career was much more. 

In the photo with the story, taken later in life, he has a thin mustache and looks very much like fellow actor David Niven. 

I also have a piece of paper on which I wrote down the title of the Rathbone-Bruce films and the dates on which I saw each one on television. Unfortunately, I didn't write down the year, but it was in the 1960s.

The second great Basil is Basil of Baker Street (although that name could be used by the other Basils as well). Some of you know him best as The Great Mouse Detective of the Disney film. That came decades after I read the Eve Titus books in the early '60s. Once time some friends and I read one of those books out loud -- the whole book -- at a party. We were a raucus crew.

The third great Basil is Captain Basil, one of the less well known pseudonyms of Sherlock Holmes himself. Check out "The Adventure of Black Peter," where there is a passing mention of it. Someday Sebastian McCabe, hero of my my series, will start his own Sherlockian scion society and call it "Captain Basil's Crew."

Who is your favorite Basil?


  1. Basil the Great Mouse Detective was my very first Sherlock Holmes, then Basil Rathbone, so I have a great fondness for both of them. I think I prefer mouse Basil, though, because he had better taste in Watsons.

  2. There's a special place in my heart for Basil the Great Mouse Detective. It was either him or The Greek Interpreter that was my first introduction to Sherlock Holmes. I can't remember for the life of me which way round it was, but it was one of them. The one and only time I scored brownie points in a chemistry lesson was also down to Basil. The teacher asked if anyone knew what Sodium Chloride was and, remembering the scene in the film, I did know. And no, I didn't bother to explain how I knew. :)

    Basil Rathbone.... Well, I haven't seen any of his Sherlock Holmes. I'm tempted, but I don't really want to see Watson portrayed as a bumbling idiot. That's just not how I see the character.