Thursday evening was the re- opening of the iconic Sherlock Holmes Pub in London and it was the place to be if you are a Sherlock Holmes fan. Fifty key people from the Sherlockian world were invited to celebrate the major refurbishment. The pub is one of the most visited places on the Holmes trail for any fans coming to London and Sue and the team have done a great job updating it.
We were invited as the UK’s main Sherlock Holmes publishers and we brought along books for all the guests (we went with Aside Arthur Conan Doyle which is a wonderful collection of short stories by Conan Doyle’s close friend Bertram Fletcher Robinson – compiled by leading Holmes author and historian Paul Spiring who couldn’t make it to the evening as he is in Germany at present).
The timing couldn’t have been better as it was a perfect chance to recruit some more participants for The Great Sherlock Holmes Debate, and meet up with some of the existing team members. First discussion (and recruit) of the evening was actor Roger Llewellyn who has played Holmes a staggering 800+ times on stage in the last decade – all over the world. He plays a very traditional Holmes and has naturally joined The Traditionalists team. I can report back that there are fewer fun things then to spend time drinking ale (I chose a pint of Sherlock of course) with Roger – he’s a very charming and funny man, and revealed that he hadn’t had a particular love for Holmes before playing him, it had been a great fit as a character – but has since developed a deep respect for Conan Doyle having got to know all about him over the many years.
Next up were Roger Johnson and Jean Upton from the Sherlock Holmes Society of London. Roger is on the BBC Sherlock team and we discussed tactics as well as his new book ‘In The Night, In The Dark’ which is a collection of ghost stories that include the entire original collection that won him the Dracula Award for ghost stories (the same award that big names like Terry Pratchett have won). Jean created the amazing photograph of the skull, bell and hook on the cover. Roger has been reviewing our books for many years in the Society’s journal and it was great to see them both.
Representing both himself and the Save Undershaw campaign was Holmes author Alistair Duncan. It was Alistair who first convinced us to get into Holmes publishing and now many books later, we are about to publish his best book yet – An Entirely New Country – covering the time that Arthur Conan Doyle was at Undershaw. It comes out in December and is already being tipped to be one of the most important books about the great man in years. Alistair was on good form, especially when explaining why he has moved over from the BBC Sherlock team to The Traditionalists for the debate (see Alistair’s blog for more details). Another subject for me and Alistair (and most others there) was how much everyone was enjoying the new Sherlockology website – resounding thumbs up all round.
It was wonderful to meet BBC Sherlock’s Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue who took time from their extremely busy schedules [the new series is coming out in a few months time] to come along. As you can imagine everyone was queuing up to have a few words with them and I was lucky enough to be able to have a chat about the Debate – ‘Oh that’s all down to you then is it?’ Steven smiled when I introduced myself. It seems the Sherlock team have been watching the progress of the debate with interest.
It was a very enjoyable evening with many more fascinating Holmes characters including Bob Ellis from the London Society and the great nephew of Arthur Conan Doyle as well. There were even those dressed as Holmes and Watson who were inundated with tourists with cameras wanting their picture taken with them. An evening of fine ale and fine company and one that will stay in the memory.