From The Surrey Shore . . .
The Newsletter of the Hated Rivals on the Surrey Shore Vol. 1, No. 1, February 2002
****A Scion Society for All Who Enjoy Sherlock Holmes in All His Manifestations!****
Greetings to those select few receiving this inauguratory issue of the newsletter of the newest Sherlockian scion society in the Indianapolis area! If you’re receiving this missive, it’s because you’ve expressed an interest at some point in the Great Detective of Victorian mysteries, the inimitable Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street (and likely in his friend and associate, Dr. John H. Watson, M.D.). Perhaps you’re a former member of another local (or nonlocal) Sherlockian scion or even are currently a member of such a group. Or perhaps not. (Your interests may possibly even lie more in the Victorian era in general or in some other literary figure of the Victorian age than in the exploits of the Master Sleuth of London.) In any event, we wanted to let you know what we’re doing and about some of the events that we have planned that may be of interest to you. First, however, I should probably address a question that some of you may have: Why a new scion society in Indianapolis? (If you’re receiving this newsletter, you probably already know what a scion society is, so I don’t go into detail at this time on that topic. If not, however, feel free to contact me and ask away.)
Well, the answer lies in the last line of our letterhead at the top of this newsletter. Several among our still-small but spirited group were once members of some other Sherlockian scion—in my case, for more than a decade and a half (and 11 of those years without missing a meeting). But eventually, as old friends left and the focus of the group changed, what was once fresh, exciting, and mentally stimulating to the inner Sherlockian became . . . less so. Much that had characterized the meetings in the past was gone, and what remained seemed too stifling to those of us who yearned to experience and discuss much more about Sherlock Holmes and the fascinating era in which he lived than simply the original stories (as truly wonderful as they are), some of the movies, and an occasional nod to a play or a pastiche. That’s not to say, of course, that anything’s wrong with such activities, if that’s what the members prefer and what satisfies them. More power to them, I say. But the world of Sherlock Holmes today encompasses so much more!
Where Holmes’ turf was once limited to the fog-enshrouded mews of Victorian London and his activities to solving sordid mysteries and crimes, today his adventures (unofficially or otherwise) extend into all genres and all realms of popular culture. Those who disdain the thought of Holmes in, say, a science fictional setting are apparently ignorant of (or choose to ignore) the fact that his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, also wrote not only science fiction (think the Professor Challenger tales, for example), but also horror and other types of stories beyond his historical and factual (or fanciful) work. And those who look down their noses at Holmes exploits in such venues as the “comic book” (today, more properly known as graphic novels by anyone who’s examined them) seem to overlook the fact that much of Doyle’s writing was in the popular forms of the day. I have no doubt but that had the “comic book” existed as a medium in Doyle’s day, he’d have written a Holmes comic or two—or at least have authorized others to do so, as he did for the stage after trying his own hand at a few plays.
So we started this scion to serve as an alternative outlet for those of us who may wish to go beyond the original Holmes stories or the movies or a pastiche or play here or there. While retaining a strong focus on Sherlock Holmes himself, along with all the familiar places and characters of the “Canon” (as the original stories are known to Sherlockians), we plan to explore additional aspects of the Great Detective and his world—as well as today’s take on both. Instead of meeting occasionally in Victorian surroundings, we plan to hold many (if not most) of our meetings in locations harking back to the Victorian era itself, in feel if not in actuality. (For an idea, see the coming meeting notes in this newsletter.) And we plan to go beyond simple story discussions and quizzes to provide discussions on topics ranging from the state of Afghanistan in the Victorian era to how other detectives of the day (real and fictional) operated. We also plan to celebrate Sherlock Holmes in music as well as in his other cultural manifestations (stay tuned!). We believe that there’s room in a hobby so expansive as Sherlockiana for such activities – and, if you agree, we hope to see you at some of our upcoming events.
Now as to the next question that you may have – who’s Barker and why are you the “Hated Rivals on the Surrey Shore” (why not just “barely tolerated rivals” or why not some other shore)? – well, the answer to that must wait until our next newsletter. In the meantime, you can do a bit of sleuthing on your own and check out the original Holmes tale “The Retired Colourman” in the Casebook of Sherlock Holmes to find the origin of the “scion identity” of your humble writer as well as of the name of our scion. We’ll fill in a bit more detail in our next newsletter—or come ask us in person at one of the coming meetings! Until then, I remain your humble servant . . .
C. Barker, esq.
The first, organizational meeting of the Hated Rivals on the Surrey Shore was held on January 5 of this year at the Lawrence North Library on Hague Road in Indianapolis. As planned, attendance was limited mainly to those who’d already expressed an interest in forming a new scion in the city (although several who’d expected to attend were unable to do so, apparently due to a nasty strain of the Black Formosa Corruption masquerading as ordinary bronchitis—no doubt the work of some minion of the evil Professor Moriarty or some other scalawag). Also attending with his family was Indianapolis Star columnist Will Higgins, who wrote a nice article for the following Monday’s Star on Sherlockian groups in the city, including our fledgling scion. (Although a slight misquote appeared, we were pleasantly surprised that our scion received approximately as much coverage as the “big guys in town.”) Those who missed the article in the Star and would like to see it without unauthorized (and inaccurate) annotations can contact us, and we’ll gladly send you a copy of the original. As many Sherlockians consider January 6 to be Holmes’ birthday, we celebrated the occasion with a cake and other goodies and discussed the Great Detective, his stories, and our hopes and plans for the new scion. (Keep an eye here, however, for some future revisionary musings regarding Holmes’ birthday and its date.) We also set the meeting dates and activities for much of the coming year and named officers to serve until we hold our first elections next year.
Saturday, March 2
2 to 3:30 p.m.
Featuring a talk and discussion on “Lady Detectives”
In the Victorian Era”
Location: The Hamilton Co. Historical Society and Old Jail Museum, at 810 Conner St., in Noblesville, Indiana, on the Square. (Take I-69 N. to to S.R. 37 Noblesville; turn left at State Road 32 and on to the Square – State Road 32 becomes Conner Street in Noblesville.) Activities include a tour of the Victorian-era facility and museum and refreshments. (Call 317-770-0775 for additional information about the museum – and remember to bring your “Get Out of Gaol Free” cards.)
Sunday, May 5
2 to 3:30 p.m.
The Seamy Side of Victorian Life—and Death
Featuring a lecture on “Grave Robbing in the 19th Century”
By David Heighway, past Director of the Hamilton Co.
Location: The Indiana Medical History Museum, 3045 W. Vermont St., Indianapolis, Indiana (on the grounds of the old Central State Hospital). Activities include a tour of the museum. (Call 317-635-7329 for directions or additional information about the museum or check its Web site at www.imhm.org -- shovels not required.)
We’re also planning a summer picnic at Conner Prairie and some other surprises. For information, contact us c/o Bill Barton, P.O. Box 26290, Indianapolis, IN 46226-0290, or Mimi DeMore, P.O. Box 482, Fishers, IN 46038, or via e-mail at email@example.com. See you on the Surrey Shore, where the game’s always afoot!