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Review of An Entirely New Country

“Make no mistake: I am a student of the life of Sherlock Holmes, and not Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I play “The Game” with great seriousness. My two trips to England, and in particular London, have been Holmes Pilgrimages. Any time that I happened to cross the path of Conan Doyle, Watson’s first – but not only – literary agent, was usually by accident. (Stopping to look at two of Doyle’s London homes, for instance, happened only because they were on the walk between other Holmes-related sites, and not because they were destinations in-and-of themselves.)

In spite of this statement, I believe that I have most, if not all, of the previous Doyle biographies in my collection – those by Carr, Pearson, Stashower, Costello, Lellenburg and Stashower, Jaffee, Symons, Higham, and even Doyle’s own autobiography, “Memories and Adventures”. They are all go-to’s when I’m researching some fact or other in relation to the lives of Holmes and Watson.

In 2015, I came up with the idea of, and then edited and contributed to, the ongoing Holmes anthology series, “The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories”. These author royalties for these volumes go to benefit the Stepping Stones School for special needs students, located at Undershaw, one of Doyle’s homes. It was through this effort that I became much more aware of both Doyle and Undershaw. While learning about this special place, I actually began to wish that I had visited this Doyle residence because of Doyle, and not just because of connections to Holmes and Watson.

At about this time, I happened to acquire the three excellent biographies of Doyle – “The Norwood Author”, “An Entirely New Country”, and “No Better Place” – all written by Alistair Duncan, in which new insights are provided into three crucial eras of the man’s life.

“An Entirely New Country”, spanning those years on either side of the beginning of the twentieth century, is the volume that specifically covers the Undershaw years. This was a difficult time for Doyle, as his wife, Louisa, was slowly dying, while he was falling in love with the woman who would become his second wife, Jean Leckie. During this period, Doyle’s celebrity was growing – he was writing books, stories, and articles, and while living at Undershaw, he participated in the publication of the first new Holmes adventures since Holmes had been reported killed at Reichenbach Falls in “The Final Problem”. It was here that “The Hound of the Baskervilles” was polished for publication, and then stories in “The Return of Sherlock Holmes” were authorized following Sherlock Holmes’s retirement in October 1903. This book is a tribute not only to what Doyle accomplished while living at Undershaw, but to the building itself, and how important it is to rescue it from the years of neglect that have nearly destroyed it.

This book, alongside Duncan’s other two Doyle biographies, provides great insight into Doyle’s real-life during the period stretching from 1891 to his death in 1930. Much of this material has not been seen in the previous Doyle biographies, and that should be an extra treat for scholars who study the life of the man. One can only hope that Duncan will now back up and cover the man’s life from his birth in 1859 to 1891.”

Reviewed by David Marcum.

An Entirely New Country is available through all good bookstores including Amazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK,Book Depository ( free worldwide delivery) and in all electronic formats including iTunesKoboNook and in a very popular Kindle version that includes the dozens of photos.

an entirely new country

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Peter E. Blau reviews Two, To One, Be

“Another MX title is PROJECT TWO, TO ONE, BE: SHERLOCK HOLMES AND A HOUSE OF LIGHT, SHADOWS, AND VIEWS (2014; 162 pp.); edited by Carrie Carlson and Lynn Gale, it’s an anthology of tributes to Undershaw, with a foreward by Laurie R. King, and essays, photographs, and artwork by other supporters of the campaign to preserve Conan Doyle’s home.”

Two, To One, Be is available from all good bookstores including   Amazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository .

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The Sherlock Holmes Society of London reviews Two, To One, Be

“Project Two, to One, Be: Sherlock Holmes and a House of Light, Shadows and Views edited by Carrie Carlson & Lynn Gale. John Gibson has written the introduction, and the foreword is by Laurie R King. There follow nearly 140 pages of essays, long and short, enhanced by photographs and original artwork, some of it, like Riley  Stark’s cover design, outstanding. Ms Carlson notes:  ‘Not all of our contributors are professionals in their chosen medium, and many of the writers are non-native English Speakers, and yet they all speak from the heart.” All the royalties from the book go to the Undershaw campaign. Believe me, it’s worth while.”

Two, To One, Be is available from all good bookstores including   Amazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository .

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Sherlock’s Home – Call For Corporate Sponsors

In the coming weeks the courts will make the final decision on Undershaw, Conan Doyle’s former home. It has been the subject of a long running battle between the developers who seek to destroy it, and the band of Sherlock Holmes fans who are fighting to save it and return it to its former glory.

(Undershaw today, neglected and run down)

The high court ruled in favour of the fans – the developers appealed – that was defeated too – now they have appealed the rejection of the appeal (come on….). Now we just have to wait for that to get looked at and then we’re done: you’ve got to love the British judicial system (not).

In the meantime the UPT (Undershaw Preservation Trust) are putting together a fundraising committee of ten to twelve volunteers whose job it will be to raise the money needed to restore Undershaw back to its former glory. Due to the negligence of the developers [the high court case highlighted at least two instances where they broke the law in not keeping the building safe whilst the court case raged on] the job is considerably bigger than it needed to have been. It’s estimated that the team will need £2.5m (around $4m) to restore and prepare the building.

(Undershaw as it used to look)

This is where Sherlock Holmes fans around the world have plenty of ways of getting involved. Most of you will be aware of the book ‘Sherlock’s Home: The Empty House’ which was compiled by BBC Sherlock fan site Sherlockology and whose royalties all go to the trust. Many of you have bought the book and many have joined the trust’s Save Undershaw Facebook Page.

Now I’d like to suggest something else. Corporate sponsorship. We live in an era where Football, Baseball and Soccer stadiums around the world have corporate sponsors – even the theatre bar I was in a few weeks ago in London carried the support logo of their sponsor American Airlines. So why now Undershaw? On a purely brutal front, there is lots of very positive brand exposure to be had to be linked to this quite amazing story how a group of fans (led by John Gibson) have managed to save an incredible building against all the odds.

(campaigner and Holmes actor Derek Wood by a boarded up Undershaw)

My first stop for corporate sponsors are the corporations that have, especially in recent times, made some serious money from the Sherlock Holmes stories. Let’s remember, that if it wasn’t for Undershaw, none of that money would have been made, there would have been no Sherlock Holmes.

I am deadly serious here. Few people realise that Undershaw is where Conan Doyle brought Holmes back to life and where he created the The Hound of The Baskervilles that catapulted Holmes from simply a ‘fairly popular’ detective, to a worldwide phenomenon. Without Undershaw, we wouldn’t be enjoying Holmes today.

So yes, Warner Brothers, Undershaw has given you two blockbuster movies that have grossed hundreds of millions of dollars. Yes, BBC (I know you are a public corporation but you still are able to sponsor), you have this building to thank for the prolific success of BBC Sherlock. And how about CBS with Elementary…. I’m sure you guys will make a few bucks out of that too.

Now I am not suggesting any of these corporations hand over the millions that are required (though that would be nice) but it certainly would be fitting for them to be involved. There are plans to include a museum element to the restored house and it would be brilliant to have a Holmes on screen section with costumes and momentos from the films and TV series.

But here is the crux of this article, it’s a call out to the Holmes fans around the world who by day work for big corporations in many fields of expertise. There are plenty of ways for companies to get involved – especially any of those involved in construction. There will be plenty of opportunity for publicity – that’s one thing the Holmes fan base is really good at. There are dozens of rooms in the house and I am sure there is the opportunity for corporations to sponsor perhaps Conan Doyle’s study, the library of Holmes books that will be created – or perhaps the stunning stained glass window which surely every future visitor will stop to admire….

Corporations can write off donations like this against tax and use the association with the house for entertainment of key clients. A private tour of the house where Sherlock Holmes came back to life? Now that’s what I call special corporate entertainment…..

If you have an idea of how your company can get involved in the restoration and running of Undershaw please contact the UPT through the Save Undershaw Facebook page.

And if you haven’t got hold of a copy of the book ‘Sherlock’s Home’ its available from all good bookstores and in all formats – AmazonBarnes and NobleBook Depository (free worldwide delivery), Kindle , Kobo , Nook, and iTunes.

 

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Sherlock Holmes Society of London reviews An Entirely New Country

An Entirely New CountryWhen his last book won the 2011 Howlett Award (Shelock Holmes Book of The Year) it was always going to be tough for Alistair Duncan to meet expectations with his next one. Thankfully he does that, and more, in arguably one of the best books ever written on Conan Doyle. An Entirely New Country went down so well with co-creator of BBC’s Sherlock, Mark Gatiss that he agreed to provide the foreword.The Sherlock Holmes Society of London has now reviewed the book in their latest newsletter and they agree to the importance of the book. Holmes fans have fed back that in addition to being historically significant the book is also an excellent read.

“Alistair Duncan’s Eliminate the Impossible was a very good start, and Close to Holmes confirmed him as a truly important writer in our field. In The Norwood Author he illuminated, as no previous biographer had, an essential period in the life of Conan Doyle, when Sherlock Holmes leapt to international fame – and his creator killed him. Now An Entirely New Country: Arthur Conan Doyle, Undershaw and the Resurrection of Sherlock Holmes throws light on the drama of the years that followed, when Conan Doyle and his family lived in Undershaw, the house he’d had built at Hindhead, where conditions were favourable for his invalid wife Louise. Hindhead was also the centre of an informal community of writers and artists.

During the Undershaw years Conan Doyle wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Return of Sherlock Holmes. He served as a field surgeon in the Boer War and wrote a full history of the conflict. He adopted the cause of the wrongly convicted George Edalji. He was knighted. And he fell in love with Jean Leckie, who would become his second wife. Today, Undershaw is in a sad state, empty and threatened by inappropriate ‘development’. It’s fitting that the foreword to this admirable book was written by Mark Gatiss, the Patron of the Undershaw Preservation Trust. See www.saveundershaw.com

An Entirely New Country is available through all good bookstores including Amazon USA, Amazon UK, The Mysterious Bookshop (New York), Classic Specialities and in a simply stunning Kindle version that includes the dozens of photos in  all their digital glory. If you are lucky enough to have a Kindle Fire we can report back that the colour photos come out really well on it.

 

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BBC Sherlock’s writer adds foreword for new Arthur Conan Doyle Book

An Entirely New Country

Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, Dr Who, The League of Gentlemen) has written the foreword to what Holmes fans are eagerly expecting to be the most important new Arthur Conan Doyle book of 2011.

Author Alistair Duncan has a very hard act to follow with his new book, An Entirely New Country. His last book, The Norwood Author won the 2011 Howlett Literary Award (Sherlock Holmes book of the year) and was widely recognised as one of the most important Conan Doyle books in recent times due to the new information Duncan uncovered during his meticulous research.

The challenge is that Conan Doyle is one the most written about authors in history, with literally hundreds of biographies about the great man. To find genuinely new information means delving into local archives which was the secret to the success of the book on the Norwood period. Duncan admits that he couldn’t create these ground-breaking books without the significant help from local library staff.

What adds to the importance of this book is the timing. The book covers the ‘Undershaw’ period, the time Conan Doyle spent in the home that he himself designed. The house faces destruction by developers and The Undershaw Trust is working hard to save it. Mark Gatiss is the patron of Save Undershaw and brings a lot of welcome awareness and support to the team.

Judging by the tens of thousands that visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum every year, and the millions of new fans that the BBC’s Sherlock and the new movies have generated, there is plenty of scope for restoring this important building and creating a larger exhibition for Sherlock Holmes.

The Sherlock Holmes Society of London’s Roger Johnson makes strong reference to this in his notes about the new book:

“It was evident from his first book Eliminate the Impossible that Alistair Duncan writes well, that he writes with knowledge and enthusiasm, and that he thinks about what he writes. His subsequent books, Close to Holmes and The Norwood Author, did more than just confirm that impression: they established him as an important commentator on Arthur Conan Doyle and his famous creation. After exploring the years when Conan Doyle lived in Norwood – surprisingly neglected by previous biographers, even though it was then that he became truly famous – Mr Duncan has turned his attention to the author’s next decade, perhaps the most turbulent of his life. Undershaw, the house that Conan Doyle had built at Hindhead, was his home from 1897 to 1907. He wrote The Hound of the BaskervillesSir NigelThe Return of Sherlock Holmes and much else at Undershaw. The house saw the end of his first marriage and the beginning of his second. He was resident here when he became Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Yet, despite its cultural and architectural importance, Undershaw currently stands empty, vandalised and neglected. Read An Entirely New Country and you’ll understand just why the Undershaw years were so important.”

The most important book on Conan Doyle in 2011? – undoubtedly.

We hope that at least one person that reads An Entirely New Country has a spare £million or two to invest in preserving an important part of Conan Doyle’s history before it is lost forever.

 

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The Most Important Book On Sherlock Holmes And Arthur Conan Doyle of 2011?

An Entirely New CountryAlistair Duncan has a very hard act to follow with his new book, An Entirely New Country. His last book, The Norwood Author won the 2011 Howlett Literary Award (Sherlock Holmes book of the year) and was widely recognised as one of the most important Conan Doyle books in recent times due to the new information Duncan uncovered during his meticulous research.

The challenge is that Conan Doyle is one the most written about authors in history, with literally hundreds of biographies about the great man. To find genuinely new information means delving into local archives which was the secret to the success of the book on the Norwood period. Duncan admits that he couldn’t create these ground-breaking books without the significant help from local library staff.

What adds to the importance of this book is the timing. The book covers the ‘Undershaw’ period, the time Conan Doyle spent in the home that he himself designed. The house faces destruction by developers and The Undershaw Trust is working hard to save it. Judging by the tens of thousands that visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum every year, and the millions of new fans that the BBC’s Sherlock and the new movies have generated, there is plenty of scope for restoring this important building and creating a larger exhibition for Sherlock Holmes.

The Sherlock Holmes Society of London’s Roger Johnson makes strong reference to this in his notes about the new book:

“It was evident from his first book Eliminate the Impossible that Alistair Duncan writes well, that he writes with knowledge and enthusiasm, and that he thinks about what he writes. His subsequent books, Close to Holmes and The Norwood Author, did more than just confirm that impression: they established him as an important commentator on Arthur Conan Doyle and his famous creation. After exploring the years when Conan Doyle lived in Norwood – surprisingly neglected by previous biographers, even though it was then that he became truly famous – Mr Duncan has turned his attention to the author’s next decade, perhaps the most turbulent of his life. Undershaw, the house that Conan Doyle had built at Hindhead, was his home from 1897 to 1907. He wrote The Hound of the BaskervillesSir NigelThe Return of Sherlock Holmes and much else at Undershaw. The house saw the end of his first marriage and the beginning of his second. He was resident here when he became Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Yet, despite its cultural and architectural importance, Undershaw currently stands empty, vandalised and neglected. Read An Entirely New Country and you’ll understand just why the Undershaw years were so important.”

The most important book on Conan Doyle in 2011? – undoubtedly.

The biggest Holmes seller this Christmas will probably be The House Of Silk – the new Holmes ‘official’ novel from Anthony Horowitz and we understand too well the importance of pastiches as the most popular form of new Holmes books for publishers. However, we hope that at least one person that reads An Entirely New Country has a spare £million or two to invest in preserving an important part of Conan Doyle’s history before it is lost forever.

 

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