Tag Archives: Sherlock Holmes

Literary Dinner and a Movie

In the remarkable 2010 BBC/PBS television series Sherlock, fictional Dr. John Watson writes his first blog, A Study in Pink, based on the 1887 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel A Study in Scarlet.  Benedict Cumberbatch, as a rather particular version of Holmes, has replaced the original dusty library with banks of laptops and a smartphone, and the thought-inducing meerschaum pipe with nicotine patches – a three-pipe problem has now become a three-patch problem.   Have you ever wondered what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would think of all this?  Brilliant, obsessed, and quite rude his detective has remained, but have these modern innovators stretched the original Sherlock Holmes too far?  The Thursday evening Charleswood Library Mystery Book Club had jolly good fun discussing this and other aspects of the whole affair after reading the novel in The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes and enjoying a delightful evening of movie-watching and popcorn.

sherlock   annotatedsherlock


Not to be outdone, the Saturday morning Charleswood Library Book club, which tends to steer away from mysteries, tried their hand with a Dinner and a Movie night out. After reading Paula Hawkins’ popular and engaging thriller The Girl on the Train, they had a rather enjoyable night out for a screening of Emily Blunt’s movie of the same name, and a dinner afterward.

Cover image for "The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawins.

The two book clubs at The Charleswood Library seem to be engaged in a healthy competition with one another. If one has an author visit, the other does likewise.  If one goes out for dinner and a movie, the others will head out for a more civilized theatrical version of the book they’re reading, as they did with Simon Stephens’ MTC play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, based on the novel by Mark Haddon.


At year’s end, the competition culminates in a worlds-colliding Holiday Pot Luck Dinner, where the mystery lovers, the fiction lovers, and the cross-overs all bring the most delicious, warm, and satisfying book discussion of the year. This wonderful event brings to mind the 1942 Nabokov poem A Literary Dinner, which will be read at next December’s meeting:

Come here, said my hostess, her face making room
for one of those pink introductory smiles
that link, like a valley of fruit trees in bloom,
the slopes of two names.
I want you, she murmured, to eat Dr. James.

I was hungry. The Doctor looked good. He had read
the great book of the week and had liked it, he said,
because it was powerful. So I was brought
a generous helping. His mauve-bosomed wife
kept showing me, very politely, I thought,
the tenderest bits with the point of her knife.
I ate–and in Egypt the sunsets were swell;
The Russians were doing remarkably well;
had I met a Prince Poprinsky, whom he had known
in Caparabella, or was it Mentone?
They had traveled extensively, he and his wife;
her hobby was People, his hobby was Life.
All was good and well cooked, but the tastiest part
was his nut-flavored, crisp cerebellum. The heart
resembled a shiny brown date,
and I stowed all the studs on the edge of my plate.* 


~ Ian

*This poem can be found in Poems and Problems by Vladimir Nabokov, p. 152.


From Page to Stage: Sherlock Holmes

Winnipeg Public Library and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre have teamed up to bring you new ways to enrich your theatre experience! Interested in the current RMTC production, Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily? Join crime writer Catherine Macdonald as she examines the amateur sleuth “template” established by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at the Millennium Library on Tuesday, October 21, at 12:10 p.m. And if you can’t make it to the theatre or the library, try a few of the suggested reads below…

Explore More Sherlock Holmes

First introduced in 1887 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes quickly became the archetype of the cerebral detective and has inspired hundreds of novels, stories, and dramatic adaptations. We can rest assured that Holmes will continue to be rewritten, remixed, re-interpreted, and re-imagined for the next hundred years.

Explore the Original Stories

holmesThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle. The character of Irene Adler in “A Scandal in Bohemia” was widely believed to be based on Lillie Langtry. That short story and eleven others are brought together in this collection. (Because the book is in the public domain, free etexts are also widely available.)

annotatedThe New Annotated Sherlock Holmes. This massive four-volume edition reprints all 56 Holmes stories together with critical interpretations, historical notes, lavish illustrations, and much, much more for the devoted Sherlockian.

Explore More Drama

brett Jeremy Brett in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes [and various other titles]. Considered the definitive Holmes of our era, Brett portrayed the detective in more than forty episodes for British television. (Also available online via hoopla, the streaming video service WPL subscribes to.)




cumberbatchSherlock. The BBC’s modern-day version of Holmes as a texting, asocial genius has been both critically acclaimed and wildly popular, due in no small part to the charisma of Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock.

Explore Works Inspired by Holmes

In a loving act of homage, authors have been inventing varied and creative ways to explain how they discovered “lost” Sherlock Holmes case histories ever since Doyle ceased publishing. A staggering number of these pastiches have been published over the past century; here’s a sampling of just a few.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Laurie R. King. In 1915, a retired Sherlock Holmes is quietly studying honeybees when a young woman literally stumbles onto him on the Sussex Downs. Under his reluctant tutelage, Mary Russell proves a deft protégée and a fitting partner in the first of a long-running series.

enolaThe Case of the Missing Marquess, Nancy Springer. This first in a series for younger readers introduces Sherlock Holmes’s (much) younger sister – an engaging and intelligent detective in her own right – as she searches for her missing mother.

Dust and Shadow, Lyndsay Faye. This atmospheric novel pits Holmes against Jack the Ripper as he himself is wounded while trying to capture the East End killer.  

The House of Silk, Anthony Horowitz. Holmes and Watson find themselves being drawn ever deeper into an international conspiracy connected to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston, the gaslit streets of London, opium dens and much, much more.

A Study in Sherlock, edited by Laurie R. King & Leslie Klinger. Eighteen well-known authors from Lee Child to Neil Gaiman provide their own original perspectives and variations on the consulting detective.

Explore More History

Bertie: a Life of Edward VII, Jane Ridley [also published as The heir apparent]. Edward VII (aka “Bertie”) was 59 when he finally came to power and reigned as King of England for only the last ten years of his life. This colourful biography paints a balanced portrait of his life, including his relationships with Lillie Langtry and other women.

Oscar Wilde, Richard Ellman. Ellman’s beautifully written, profoundly researched biography won a Pulitzer Prize and is still considered the standard life of Wilde.

scienceThe Science of Sherlock Holmes, E.J. Wagner. Doyle grounded Holmes’ investigatory methods in the cutting-edge science of his day, and this book uses Sherlock’s adventures to explore the real-life developments in forensic science during the late 19th century, from fingerprints to handwriting analysis.

Explore More Sherlockiana

On Conan Doyle, Michael Dirda. Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Michael Dirda is a passionate Sherlock fan. His highly engaging introduction to Holmes’ creator combines memoir and personal appreciation as well as an insider’s account of The Baker Street Irregulars, the club dedicated to the study of Sherlock Holmes.

A Sherlock Holmes Handbook, Christopher Redmond. This exhaustive reference to the world of Sherlock Holmes gives a full background to the original stories and everything related, including movie and television versions, Victorian era history, and the entire Holmes phenomenon.

bioSherlock Holmes: the Unauthorized Biography, Nick Rennison. “What carefully plotted conspiracy led Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to declare that Holmes was merely a literary invention?” A delightful exercise in mock scholarship tracing the life of Holmes in incredible, imaginative detail.