By Edmund Pearson (1880-1937).
First appeared in The Bookman (August 1932), pages 354-359.
With 7 illustrations.
Sherlock was destined to become a legend in his own time, so to speak; so how does one depict a legend? Edmund Pearson looked into what could be called "A Case of Diversity" when it came to how artists chose to illustrate the Holmes stories, finding that the Great Detective's initial appearance (in A Study in Scarlet, 1887) was accompanied by artwork by D. H. Friston, whose "first picture of Holmes would distress the devotees":
. . . Friston's Sherlock is neither handsome nor intellectual; he wears undertaker's side-whiskers, an ulster with a cape, and a hat like nothing on sea or land—a sort of bastard child of a bowler out of a sombrero. With a magnifying glass as big as a sunflower, he is examining the word RACHE written in blood upon the wall. About him, in grotesque attitudes, stand Watson—with a walrus's moustache—and the Scotland Yarders, Gregson and Lestrade. Mr. Friston seems to have thought that the scene was macabre, and that the characters should look like gargoyles. . . .
There is an impression that Mr. William Gillette, in his play, first put Holmes in a deer-stalker's cap with visors fore and aft. In one of the early Strand stories, however, The Boscombe Valley Mystery, Dr. Doyle says that Holmes wore a "close-fitting cloth cap", and [Sidney] Paget shows him with a fore-and-after. . . .
American editors, in 1893, began to be interested in Holmes, and the second series, the Memoirs, ran in Harper's Weekly, in addition to their English publication in the Strand. The American artist, Mr. W. H. Hyde, adorned the stories in Harper's with some striking pictures, but preferred to draw the actors in the criminal events rather than Holmes and Watson. The detective seldom appears, and when he does he is Mr. Hyde's own conception. . . .
[When Holmes returned from the grave in 1903] . . . On both sides of the ocean he reappeared in the series called The Return of Sherlock Holmes, and in America, in Collier's Weekly, with the most interesting decorations of all time. Old Sherlockians will always be fond of the Paget drawings, but they must admit that the pictures made for this new series, by Frederic Dorr Steele, were not only satisfactory as portraits, but extremely attractive in detail. . . . [In addition] Mr. Steele was the first illustrator to suggest that Dr. Watson was a simple Simon . . . ."The Holmes Legend."
Appeared in The Bookman (January 1933), pages 58-59.
This one relates to one author's opinion about a vexed question that has long circulated among Sherlockians:
Was the Christian name of Dr. Watson ever revealed?"Sherlock Holmes: Addendum."
Appeared in The Bookman (March 1933), pages 264-265.
"Here," we're told, "are new questions for the faithful" about "the most beloved character in fiction since Pickwick": How to account for Holmes's remarkable mimicry of Dupin. Or Watson's being wounded "in but one place, and yet in two parts of his body." Or Holmes's confusion of shall and will, "the one grammatical error that no genuine Londoner ever makes" and which are "precisely the errors we might expect if Holmes had been a native of Northern Ireland." Or how Holmes, a university man, could "be so completely taken in by what is obviously an undergraduate hoax" in "The Adventure of the Three Students."
Category: Detective fiction (Sherlockian scholarship)
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