Sherlock Holmes‘ birth date is widely agreed to be January 6, 1854 (based on the scholarship of Christopher Morley, American journalist, novelist, essayist, poet, and founder, in 1934, of the Baker Street Irregulars-the oldest literary society dedicated to Sherlock Holmes).
Perhaps no other fictional character ever created possesses the enduring popularity and seeming immortality of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Indeed, Conan Doyle himself was ultimately unsuccessful in killing him off.
Nearly 100 actors have portrayed Holmes in film, on stage, television, and radio since before 1900. Almost 20 years ago, in The Universal Sherlock Holmes (1995), Ronald B. De Waal listed over 25,000 Holmes-related productions and products. The number has no doubt increased exponentially since 1995. There are two well-received television series alone airing in 2014 with Sherlock Holmes as the protagonist: Elementary (set in present day New York City) and Sherlock (set in present day London). In fact, episode 2 of the long-awaited series 3 of Sherlock aired tonight on BBC One. Sherlock is scheduled to begin airing its series 3 in the U.S. on Masterpiece PBS on January 19.
But, how to celebrate the birthday of Sherlock Holmes? Why, by borrowing some of the online or physical Holmes-related items to be found in WPL’s catalogue. In addition to Season 1 of Elementary and Seasons 1 and 2 of Sherlock mentioned above, these include:
• a number of episodes of the Sherlock Holmes television series starring Jeremy Brett and available via hoopla digital;
• The Hound Of The Baskervilles (1983) television production;
• Murder by Decree (1979);
• some of the Sherlock Holmes movies starring Basil Rathbone available via hoopla digital;
• Sherlock Holmes: World’s Most Famous Detectives (containing two films from the ’40s and two episodes from the 1954-55 television series);
• Sherlock Holmes, (featuring over 12 hours on three DVDs including radio highlights, a Sherlock Holmes biography, a Conan Doyle biography, and a variety of films dating from 1931 through 1962 and featuring Raymond Massey, Reginald Owen, Arthur Wontner, Basil Rathbone, and Christopher Lee, all as Sherlock Holmes);
• a number of DVDs featuring episodes from the 1954-55 television series;
• many audiobooks, both original canon and pastiches; and
• many eBooks, also both original canon and pastiches.
Among the pastiches, both stand-alone novels and collections of short stories, are
• the Carole Nelson Douglas Sherlockian suspense novels featuring Irene Adler;
• Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series of historical mysteries;
• three of The Young Sherlock Holmes series by Andy Lane;
• the boy Sherlock Holmes series by Shane Peacock;
• two from Larry Millett’s series of Sherlock Holmes mysteries set in the U.S. in the 1890s;
• A Slight Trick Of The Mind (Sir Ian McKellen is slated to play Sherlock Holmes in ‘A Slight Trick of the Mind,’ a film due out later in 2014);
• More Holmes For The Holidays; and
Among the Conan Doyle biographies are:
And, naturally, you can of course find the original 56 short stories and 4 novels featuring Sherlock Holmes authored by Conan Doyle (published between 1887 and 1927), and available in book, audiobook CD, downloadable eBook and downloadable audiobook formats including The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes, and The Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Four Novels And The Fifty-six Short Stories Complete.
Interesting note: The copyright in all of Conan Doyle’s works expired in the United Kingdom in 1980 and are public domain there. On February 14, 2013, noted American Holmes scholar and attorney Leslie S. Klinger filed a suit against the Conan Doyle estate asking that the court acknowledge the characters of Holmes and Watson are in the public domain and no longer protected by copyright in the United States. Less than two weeks ago, on December 23, 2013, the court ruled in Klinger’s favour. The Conan Doyle estate is considering an appeal to protect the work until all copyrights expire in 2022. Nevertheless, Klinger still plans to finish work on a book of original short stories featuring characters and other elements from Conan Doyle’s work which he is co-editing and planning to publish in the fall of 2014.