From The Surrey Shore . . .
The Newsletter of the Hated Rivals on the Surrey Shore Vol. 1, No. 2, April 2002
****A Scion Society for All Who Enjoy Sherlock Holmes in All His Manifestations!****
Well, not exactly (although some may dispute that). But we will be going to the Indiana Medical History Museum, on the grounds of the old Central State insane asylum, in Indianapolis, for our next meeting, on Sunday, May 5, 2002. We’ll be meeting from 2 to 3:30 p.m. for a talk by David Heighway, of the Noblesville-Southeastern Library (and past director of the Hamilton County Historical Society), on medical education and grave-robbing in the 19th century. (Although the Canon doesn’t relate it, we imagine that Holmes was probably involved in at least one such case during his career.) The meeting also includes a tour of the Victorian-era facility, so you can see first-hand how Watson’s contemporaries on this side of the Atlantic dealt with medical situations. And look for a Sherlockian musical surprise as well. For additional details and directions, see the information at the end of this newsletter. Be there or be . . . well, crazy!
Welcome to our second newsletter From the Surrey Shore . . . (If you’re receiving this newsletter for the first time and would like a complimentary copy of our first issue, please send an SASE to either address at the end of this newsletter. Or you can find an HTML copy online on our scion’s Web site at http://surrey-shore.freeservers.com if you have access to the World Wide Web.) As our banner proclaims, we’re The Hated Rivals on the Surrey Shore, the newest (and only independent) scion society of the Baker Street Irregulars to set up Sherlockian shop in Indianapolis, Indiana. And as our banner also declares, we’re a scion society for people who enjoy the Great Detective of Baker Street in all his many manifestations. We don’t limit membership in our scion to those who’ve read all the original stories—or any of them, in fact. (If you haven’t, however, we’d urge you to do so—not for us but for yourself. They’re really enjoyable. But even so, it’s still not a requirement to join the Hated Rivals.) We don’t expect you to answer cryptic quizzes about or to know all the details of any particular Sherlock Holmes story in advance of attending a meeting. (So you won’t need to sit there lost while a handful of attendees—who seem to have memorized the entire text—drone on and on about it while you’re left in the dark.)
That doesn’t mean, of course, that you won’t learn something new if you come to one of our meetings. It may be something you didn’t know about Sherlock Holmes or about one or more of the original tales—or even about one of the Holmes stories written by authors other than Arthur Conan Doyle (a genre known as a pastiche, if written in a serious vein, or as a parody if written humorously or satirically). You’re also likely to learn something about the Victorian era in which most of the Holmes stories are set (unless, of course, you’re already an expert on the Victorian Age—and if you are, we’d love to have you speak at one of our meetings!). But unlike what we’ve seen in some groups we’ve attended, we’re not going to ignore you as you sit there wondering what’s going on; we’re going to do our best to make sure that your Sherlockian needs are met. And if we don’t do so at a particular meeting, just tell us where we failed you and what you’d like to see at an upcoming meeting. We welcome your suggestions! (We don’t maintain a rigid hierarchy in which a small group of “officers” make all the decisions based on what they want to do. We want to know what you’d like to do—well, as long as it’s legal and has at least something to do with Sherlock Holmes and/or the Victorian era.) That’s our philosophy. Some may disdain or even—dare I say it?—hate us for it. (Well, after all, we are the Hated Rivals on the Surrey Shore.) And that’s their privilege. But we think that there’s more to Sherlockiana than that. And if you agree, you may want to consider joining us, as you’ll fit right in.
How To Become A Hated Rival
So what can you do to become a member of the Hated Rivals? Just tell us that you want to. It’s as simple as that. We don’t charge a membership fee—right now, we don’t see the need to. With today’s technology, it takes only pennies per person to print—and not much more than that to mail—a newsletter. (Although, if you’d like to help out with that, feel free to send us a few first-class stamps to defray some of the postage costs.) If you have e-mail and can receive newsletters as file attachments, it doesn’t cost even that much. And plenty of free facilities in which to meet exist around the area, so why would we need your money? (And even if, at some point down the road, we do decide to meet somewhere that requires an entry or rental fee, the per-person cost for such a meeting will almost certainly prove far less than you’ll find many clubs charging for annual memberships. If not, we’d certainly reconsider the location.) So we don’t want your money—although we’d certainly enjoy your fellowship. That’s why, after all, we hold meetings—to share the fellowship of like-minded Sherlockians (or those aficionados of other Victorian literature, culture, or history).
And regardless of any bad experiences you may have had in past exposures to other literary-oriented clubs, you won’t encounter among the Hated Rivals any stodgy old curmudgeons who’ll jump you for mispronouncing Inspector Lestrade’s name or disparage you for enjoying Sherlock Holmes in forms other than those that meet with their personal approval—for example, in graphic novels (today’s “comic books”) or pastiches with, say, a science-fictional bent—not at any of our meetings, ’cause we love those kinds of things. (Actually, truth be known, very few Sherlockians are like that at all, at any scion’s meetings. But a few bad pips always crop up here and there—had the misfortune to run into a couple myself on occasion, which is why we try to make sure that our meetings are so much fun that such spoilsports won’t want to come.) Instead, you’ll just find people who enjoy getting together and having a good time that revolves around Sherlock Holmes and the Victorian Age. And that’s really what you should expect to find. So we hope that you’ll join us at an upcoming meeting.
By the way, we’re also a family-friendly scion. If you have youngsters who enjoy Sherlock Holmes, feel free to bring them along if you think they’d enjoy the meetings. We’ll never impose a “no-one-younger-than-18” or similar age rule just because someone “in charge” doesn’t like children. (All that we ask is that they respect others in attendance and not be loud or otherwise disruptive.) We welcome young blood to the hobby—after all, they’re the Sherlockians of tomorrow. Without them, the last scion would have died off years ago.
Oops—I did promise in the last newsletter to tell you how and why we chose our name, didn’t I? I’d better keep that promise. (Holmes wouldn’t approve otherwise.) Of course, if you took up the challenge and ferreted out the information yourself, you already know. But if, like so many of us today, you were just too busy to do so—no problem. In the final collection of Sherlock Holmes stories, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, in the story “The Retired Colourman,” Holmes introduces Watson to another London-based detective, a Mr. Barker, by name (who proves very instrumental in the successful conclusion of the case at hand). Holmes describes Barker to Watson as “my hated rival upon the Surrey Shore.” Hence our name. (Most Sherlockian scions take their names either from the titles of Holmes stories or from characters, places, incidents, or even inanimate objects mentioned in the stories.) We figure that if Baker was a detective of such skill that even Sherlock Holmes considered him a rival—and a “hated” one, at that—he must have been some detective indeed. (The fact that Holmes’ employed Barker’s services in that case strongly indicates that his “hatred” for the detective was more professional rivalry and not a personal feeling.) If you’re wondering about the “Surrey Shore” part, that’s a reference to the area of London that lies south of the River Thames. The county of Surrey lay in that direction, so the term became a convenient locater for that part of London in Victorian times. (And as you can see from the preceding quote, we are aware that the original story read “upon” the Surrey Shore and not just “on.” But having been employed professionally as a copy editor for the past 22 years, I found the “up-” prefix not only annoying but quite unnecessary—after all, no one would have thought Barker lived “down-on” the Surrey Shore—so I deleted it. If you’re among the terminally picky, I’m afraid that you’ll just have to grit your teeth and live with it.) As for Barker himself, I’ll go into a bit more detail next time, according to Watson’s description in the original story—along with some speculative musings of my own.
Well, I’ve rambled on long enough. Time to grab my bowler and be off. Take a read of the notes of our last meeting, check out the information about our coming gatherings, and join me again in two months for yet another letter from Barker. (Chock-full of parentheses—and dashes!) Until then, I remain …
—C. Barker, Esq.
It was a dark and stormy afternoon, as the Hated Rivals on the Surrey Shore gathered for our second official meeting at the Hamilton Country Historical Society Jail Museum, in Noblesville, on March 2, 2002. Although the weather kept the assembly small—albeit quite spirited—it added nicely to the overall atmosphere of the Victorian-era structure. (After all, creepy old jail cells should be gloomy.) We started the festivities with a tour of the house and jail. Many of the rooms of the house, where the sheriff and his wife once lived, are restored to their 1870s state, while the jail itself is post-Victorian/early 20th century in flavor. Especially interesting were the upper floors, accessed via narrow, winding staircases. One could almost imagine oneself in any of the modest Victorian homes that Holmes himself visited during his many investigations. Several period exhibitions also grace the museum. Following the tour, all Hated Rivals in attendance gathered in the Victorian parlor for a lively discussion on Lady Detectives in the Victorian Era, led by our own Mimi DeMore. The discussion ranged from such period fairer-sex sleuths as Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective, and the mysterious, nameless L______, whose 1837 appearance was perhaps the first in print for a female Victorian detective, to today’s offerings, such as Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell, Anne Perry’s Charlotte Pitt, and Carole Nelson Douglas’ version of Irene Adler. (Special thanks go to new Rival Suzanne Snyder for her insightful comments!) Following the discussion, we adjourned to the cozy Victorian kitchen for homemade brownies (as tasty as any Mrs. Hudson may have baked). Our hunger and need for Sherlockian fellowship sated for the moment, we all ventured back into the rainy, windswept environs of Noblesville for our homeward journeys—until our next excursion brings us together again in yet another atmospheric Victorian setting. (See the “Coming Meetings” announcement for details!)
In keeping with the theme of our upcoming meeting at the Indiana Medical History Museum, this first installment of “Victorian Trivia” concerns the medical profession in Victorian England. (Dr. Watson fans, take note.) Did you know that doctors, in Victorian England, practiced in three different “classes” or specialties? Chief among them were the physicians, who were cream of the crop (or the crowning point on the hypodermic, so to speak). Physicians were usually upper-class or upper middle-class practitioners, high in prestige and often quite well-paid. Sir William Gull, the Queen’s Physician Extraordinary, is one such physician who comes readily to mind (especially if you’re familiar with some of the Masonic conspiracy theories concerning the identify of Jack the Ripper). Below the physicians in rank were the surgeons. Where physicians were considered true professionals, surgeons were looked upon more as ordinary craftsmen. Most surgeons in Victorian England hailed from the middle-classes, many gaining much of their experience as Army surgeons. Finally, came the apothecaries. The practice of these medical men was limited mainly to prescribing and dispensing drugs and medications (unlike chemists, who are akin to modern-day pharmacists and could only mix and dispense drugs others had prescribed). Most urban apothecaries also came from the middle class. Each specialty had its own professional colleges and licensing requirements. Often, however, apothecaries would also obtain a license to practice surgery, after which they’d advertise themselves as either apothecary-surgeons or general practitioners. Patients most often went to an apothecary (or a general practitioner) first, who’d prescribe medication and, if necessary, consult with a surgeon or, if the patient were well-enough off financially, a physician for further treatment.
Question: Given this description and the record of the original Holmes stories, what kind of doctor do you think Dr. Watson was? We’ll print the answer next time.
I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere!
Several items of Sherlockian interest have come to our notice—including a couple that you may not find in the more conventional Sherlockian listings. (One exception is Peter Blau’s excellent newsletter, Scuttlebutt from The Spermaceti Press, which lists dozens of new or recently discovered Sherlockian items monthly, including the rare and obscure. You can find the latest three issues on the World Wide Web at http://members.cox.net/sherlock1/scuttle.htm — or contact Peter E. Blau, 3900 Tunlaw Road NW #119, Washington, DC 20007-4830, (202) 338-1808, to subscribe to the hard-copy version.)
The CrossGen comic book Ruse (currently in its sixth issue) may not be Sherlockian technically, but the main detective character, Simon Archard, is most definitely modeled on Holmes. His observational and deductive abilities easily rival those of Holmes; he's a master of disguise; he has various agents that he employs in some of his cases; he has his own "Watson" in Emma, his lovely female assistant, who narrates the tales and whom Archard keeps in the dark during cases, much as Holmes often did Watson—and Archard even wears a caped overcoat (but no deerstalker). The stories are well-told, intriguing mysteries and realistically drawn in graphic-novel fashion. The book does not, however, take place in our own Victorian times but on what appears to be another world that parallels our Victorian Age—but with such touches of fantasy as living gargoyles and special (but secret) powers on the parts of Archard's assistant and his nemesis, the Baroness (so those who disdain science-fictional or fantasy elements may not find the book of much interest). Still, it's an excellent read for those who enjoy Sherlockian/Victorian-style mystery and intrigue with just a touch of the fantastical.
If you’re still with us after discussing a “comic book” (horrors!), here are a couple role-playing game entries (gasp!) with Sherlockian ties:
GURPS Steam-Tech, edited by William Stoddard, with contributions by Phil Masters, William A. Barton, Marcus Rowland, and many others, is a role-playing supplement for Steve Jackson Games' Generic Universal Role-Playing System (GURPS). It's a 128-page 8½ x 11” book that describes both historical gadgets of the Victorian era and those existing only in Victorian scientific romances, a la H.G. Wells (and in the modern Victorian SF genre known as "steampunk"). Among its Sherlockian connections are writeups and illustrations for the "Holmes I Detection Automaton" (a Sherlockian steam-age robot) and the "Mycroft IV Police Engine" (a Sherlockian-themed Babbage Difference Engine). It retails for $22.95 in most game stores or others that carry role-playing games (less in some online retail sites) and is also available directly from Steve Jackson Games online at www.sjgames.com (click the Warehouse 23 link).
Sherlockian references—including full descriptions of a Sherlockian rock 'n' roll group, Sherlock & the CDs—abound in So Ya Wanna Be A Rock 'N' Roll Star! A Rock 'N' Role-Playing Game, written and designed by William A. Barton (author of the Victorian-era RPG supplement Cthulhu By Gaslight). The 108-page, 8½ x 11" professionally printed book also includes a scenario entitled "Sounds of the Vaster Hills" (say it out loud) with numerous Sherlockian characters (including a certain “Napoleon of Slime”). Available for $15 p.p. from Bill Barton Games, P.O. Box 26290, Indianapolis, IN 46226-0290. (Send a SASE or, on the Web, visit http://bill-barton-games.iwarp.com for additional information. Allow four to six weeks if paying by check; immediate shipment if paying by postal/bank money order or cashier's check.) Mention this humble newsletter with any order and get a free sheet of cut-out miniature figures of Sherlock & the CDs plus a Sherlock & the CDs discography (neither included in the main game book).
Laurie R. King, author of the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes novels, has a new novel just out in hardback: Justice Hall (331pp., $23.95). It takes Holmes and Mary to Berkshire in 1923, following their adventures in Dartmoor in her previous novel, The Moor. Although Holmes’ marriage to Russell may be jarring to some, others report that the series is among the best of the current crop of pastiches.
Those who find the London of Sherlock Holmes a fascinating location and want to learn more about it can thank Old House Books for reprinting two period guidebooks to London and the Thames: Dickens’s Dictionary of London 1888 and Dickens’s Dictionary of the Thames 1887 (272pp. each). Originally compiled by the writer’s son, each is billed as “An Unconventional Handbook.” The London volume describes not only major sites but lists the nearest underground stations, cab stands, and a plethora of other facts. The Thames volume covers the entire river, including London features along its banks. £12.99 each; plus £3 S&H for 1, £5 for both, from Old House Books, Moretonhampstead, Devon TQ13 8PA, UK; or order online at www.oldhousebooks.co.uk (or through AmazonUK at www.amazon.co.uk). Old House also sells an 1843 map of London, an 1893 map of the Thames, and a 1905 British Empire map.
Sunday, May 5
The State of Medical Knowledge in the 19th Century
Featuring a talk entitled “Grim Necessity: Grave Robbing and Medical Education in Central Indiana”
By David Heighway, Indiana Room Historian of the Noblesville-Southeastern Library
(And past director of the Hamilton Co. Historical Society)
A tour of the museum and its medical artifacts
And . . . a Sherlockian musical surprise!
Location: The Indiana Medical History Museum, 3045 W. Vermont St., in Indianapolis (just south of Vermont Street and east of Tibbs Avenue). For more information about the museum, call 317-635-7329 or visit its Web site at www.imhm.org. (Normal entry fees for the museum are waved for this meeting — shovels still not required.) See enclosed map for specific directions.
Plan on joining us, too, for a summer picnic at Conner Prairie, on Saturday, July 6, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, contact Bill Barton (C. Barker), P.O. Box 26290, Indianapolis, IN 46226-0290, email@example.com; or Mimi DeMore (Lady Molly of Scotland Yard), P.O. Box 482, Fishers, IN 46038, Ladymolly@hotmail.com. See you again back on the ol’ Surrey Shore, where the game’s perpetually afoot!