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The View from the East End

By Inspector Hopkins

December 5, 2004
"The Many Facets of Sherlockiana"

Part 1: How I got started

Now I am approaching the beginning of my "Sophomore Year", so to speak, as a serious Sherlockian. With the recent death of a good Sherlockian soldier who always encouraged newcomers, I thought it might be appropriate for me to pick up the torch and to share some of my thoughts with those who are just starting to read the Canon, or those who are wondering what it’s all about.

Actually, I read the Canon some thirty years ago. Except, I didn’t know it was the "Canon" at that time . . . .

I was young, poor, and living alone in a small apartment. No money, no television, and only a meager FM stereo system to keep me entertained. I was so broke, that I actually shoveled snow around the apartment complex to earn some credits against my rent.

Someone had given me a book entitled "The Complete Sherlock Holmes" some time before, and it had just laid around, unused, unread, and gathering dust. Well, after a particularly hard day at shoveling snow, with my back aching even after a hot shower, I settled down on my couch with a tall glass of something warming, picked it up and began to read it. Not in any particular order either, just picking stories out here and there.

Another snow storm had started around where I lived, and as I looked up, I saw the flakes coming down and smacking hard against my windowpanes. I think I was reading "The Five Orange Pips" at the time, and between the cozy glow of the warming liquid I was drinking, the howling of the worsening storm outside, my aching back, and Dr. Watson’s description of the cheery fire at Baker Street, I was baptized into Sherlockiana . . .

I just couldn’t get enough of Sherlock Holmes!

Somehow, (although I really did not like to read), his adventures became a sort of "comfort food" to me, much like the chicken noodle soup I used to enjoy as a child. Well, I read through that book, a few stories each night, until I got to the end. I shall never forget the sadness I felt when I realized that there was no more.

The sixtieth story. The very last one. I literally felt as if someone near and dear to me had died!

Now fast forward thirty years later:

After all the hassles and troubles accumulated with marriage, children, death, bankruptcy, job changes, and divorce, I needed comfort . . . desperately! With the advent of modern devices such as computers (*ahem*), I downloaded some free "e-books" from the University of Virginia’s E-Library. When I saw the selection of A. Conan Doyle’s works, I knew exactly what I had to do. And when I explored the Internet and saw the extent . . . . . the HUGE, unfathomable, utterly unbelievable, extent . . . . of all things Sherlockian, I realized that I was no longer alone in this world!

When it comes to Sherlockian study, there is almost no limit to what one can get absorbed in, and get involved in. There are so many facets of Sherlockiana that one could spend years exploring them all. There are Chat Rooms, Forums, Scions, Meetings, Symposiums, excellent Websites (such as this one!), Collections (such as our "Manic Collector" Don Hobbs maintains), Geography, History, Chronologies, the Victorian era, etc.

Now that I am more aware of all these things, I can help to pass some of that information along to the newer Sherlockians amongst us! Keep an eye on, and I will touch upon these various facets, one by one.

Oh . . . and by the way, do not forget that "sophomore" means "wise fool".

Thanking you for your time and attention, I remain, as always,


Yours faithfully,