After a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic, a well-known Sherlockian symposium took place in Dayton, OH, over the weekend under title of “Holmes, Doyle, & Friends 2021-B.”
What I kept hearing on Saturday was how much fun it was. Yes, some of the speakers offered serious scholarship, but there were also a lot of laughs and much mingling among the 60 participants from more than a dozen states. As a vendor selling my books and buying a few others, I can tell you that many such transactions took place to the joy of both parties.
Did every speaker appeal to every participant’s taste and interest? Probably not. But there was something for everyone as a stellar cast of presenters discussed the crimes of Sherlock Holmes (and whether they could be prosecuted), illustrators of the Master, Solar Pons, Rex Stout, women in the Canon, and the truth about opium dens. Bill Mason put Arthur Conan Doyle on trial for killing Holmes and we were the jury.
This conference, which Sherlockians often refer to as simply “Dayton,” has its origins in the “Homing in on Holmes” conference organized by the late Dr. Al Rodin in November 1981. It was sponsored jointly by Wright State and nearby Central State Universities and open to the public.
Following many changes in names and sponsors over the years, Dayton’s Agra Treasurers scion society took over the conference and rebranded it in 2014. Holmes, Doyle, & Friends has been going strong ever since.
Many hands have made that happen, but we should especially note Ann Siefker’s work handling all the business aspects. She negotiated with the hotels, handled registration, balanced the books, and much else. Ann has decided to retire from that, and she will be difficult to replace.
We were fortunate to have Zoom to keep the Sherlockian community together over past two years, but for me such meetings will never replace live interaction – and the more the merrier. If there’s a Sherlockian conference within your travel limits over the next year, be sure to check it out.