The annual BSI (Baker Street Irregulars) Weekend in New York has no real highlights for me – because it’s all one big highlight! But a scheduled activity that I’ve been privileged to attend the last few years is a cocktail party for contributors to the Baker Street Journal.
At this party, long-time BSJ editor Steven Rothman announces the winner of the annual Morley-Montgomery Award for the best article the previous year. In 2007, Steve edited a book called “A Remarkable Mixture,” putting together in one volume the 34 winners up to that time.
The title is quite appropriate. It’s a marvelous collection, which I just recently acquired and read. One of its strengths is that the writers take many different approaches – literary analysis, Higher Criticism, history and biography, etc. For that reason, each reader will have her or his favorites, which may differ from mine.
Since my doctoral degree is theological, I enjoyed Henry T. Folsom’s “My Biblical Knowledge is a Trifle Rusty” on Holmes’s religious beliefs. (I wrote on this subject here.)
Robert Keith Leavitt’s “The Origins of 221B Worship” is something of a classic account of the early days of the BSI, and well worth re-reading.
Poul Anderson’s “The Archetypical Holmes” is highly insightful and I once drew on it for a talk. Interestingly, he suggested a connection between Holmes and Mr. Spock long before their relationship was confirmed on the screen, and before Leonard Nimoy played Holmes on stage.
Philip Shreffler’s pean to the original Old Series of the Baker Street Journal really resonated with me. “Merely holding an Original Series Journal gently in one’s hands today imparts a variety of galvanic reverence – as very likely it did then,” Shreffler writes. I know this is true from my own experience, thanks to an amazing gift from a devoted reader of my mystery novels.
The longest piece in the book Jon Lellenberg’s look at the 1940 BSI dinner. To read it is the next best thing to being there.
Susan Rice’s “Dr. Watson’s Hidden Addiction” is a brilliantly conceived, beautifully written answer to the question of when and why Watson became a gambler. Her use of what she calls the Flitcraft Syndrome from The Maltese Falcon is masterful.
Certainly not least of all (this discussion of the articles is in chronological order), S. E. Dahlinger’s “The Sherlock Holmes We Never Knew” about William Gillette is everything that great scholarship should be – painstakingly researched and written with grace and style. For the book, she added to the essay’s original footnotes based on ongoing research. That’s real scholarship!
The Baker Street Irregulars Press is sold out of this book, but you can order a new copy from Denny Dobry of the BSI Trust at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m glad I did.