“The Irregulars’ Room”: A Forgotten Piece of Sherlockiana

Note: This is a repost from April 2020, because I think more people should see it.

I recently bought a used copy of Profile by Gaslight, edited by Edgar W. Smith, the first mainstream publication of Sherlockian scholarship. To my surprise, it was a first edition, acquired on July 29, 1944, according to the original owner’s note on the title page. I flipped through the book, and tucked next to Vincent Starrett’s “221B” was this newspaper clipping.

To save everyone’s eyes, I’ll transcribe the poem here. The clipping is from the Chicago Tribune of Wednesday, March 11, 1964, and includes this explanatory note: “Last night marked the dedication of the Irregulars’ Room in Sage’s restaurant at 1 N. La Salle. This is the only public Sherlockian room in the United States.”

The Irregulars’ Room
by Robert W. Hahn

Here dwell, dear Sherlock, here, within these walls,
With your test tubes, violin, pipe, and shag.
And when your voice, sharp with excitement, calls
“Come! The game is afoot,” we will not lag
But speed to stable or ancestral halls,
In train or hansom or colonel’s drag;
And watch your piercing eyes and mind
Find clews to which Lestrade is blind.
Then, with the culprit safe in custody,
Return with you to 221B,
And gasogene, tantalus, pipes, and fire,
To await the next client with tale so dire.
For in that land or eighteen-ninety-five
We, your faithful Watsons, best survive.

Not a literary masterpiece, perhaps, but an admirable sentiment nonetheless. I hope other faithful Watsons enjoy Mr. Hahn’s work as well.

From Janice M. Eisen (“Maggie Oakeshott”), Gazetteer

“We Went at Once to the Lawyer”: Pastiche Found in a Legal Journal

As a non-lawyer, I don’t ordinarily find myself reading the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Journal. But in researching entails for a discussion of “The Priory School,” I ran across a fascinating study of the law in the Canonical cases in which inheritance furnishes the motive. The paper, written in the form of a pastiche, is titled, “The Game Is Afoot!: The Significance of Donative Transfers in the Sherlock Holmes Canon,” and was published in that legal journal in 2011.

Sidney Paget, “The Crooked Man,” 1893

The abstract:

This article presents a recently discovered and previously unpublished manuscript written by John H. Watson, M.D., and annotated by Professor Stephen Alton. Dr. Watson’s manuscript records an extended conversation that took place between the good doctor and his great friend, the renowned consulting detective Mr. Sherlock Holmes, regarding issues of donative transfers of property—issues involving inheritances, wills, and trusts—that have arisen in some of the great cases solved by Mr. Holmes. This felicitous discovery confirms something that Professor Alton has long known: these donative transfer issues permeate many of these adventures. Often, the action in the case occurs because of the desire of the wrong-doer to come into an inheritance, a bequest, or the present possession of an estate in land more quickly—perhaps by dispatching the intervening heir, beneficiary, or life tenant. Professor Alton has annotated this manuscript, providing extensive analysis of these issues and citations to relevant, contemporary authority in his footnotes.

Alton, S. (2011). The Game Is Afoot!:The Significance of Donative Transfers in the Sherlock Holmes Canon. Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Journal, 46(1), 125–171.

All Sherlockians will find it worthwhile to read Watson’s analysis and Alton’s annotations, especially those who want to better understand the legal issues confronted by the Master.

“The Lowest and Vilest Alleys”: A Mobile Game Influenced by “The Valley of Fear”

During the lockdown, your Gazetteer has played a lot of escape-the-room games on an iPad. These are basically what it says on the tin: The player is trapped somewhere and must solve puzzles and/or find objects in order to escape.

One day I downloaded a game called Alleys, which locks you inside a theme-park reconstruction of an English coal-mining town where, you soon learn, something mysterious and terrible once occurred. In addition to the usual tasks of the genre, you gradually discover pieces of the backstory as you play. It’s not a great game, but it is diverting and challenging without being too difficult, and the graphics are impressive. It was created by Shi-Chi Shen of Taiwan and is quite the accomplishment for a solo programmer.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that this English town was located in the Vermissa Valley, and the villains were called The Scowrers. Shen must be a devoted fan of the Master, because scattered throughout the game are Sherlockian references, and not just to The Valley of Fear. For example:

Hmm, those names sound familiar …. But who is Dan Raines?

There are some clues that were left by someone described as a Pinkerton detective, but when you find them, these are the notes that accompany them:

Do not be misled: This is not a Sherlock Holmes game, and the storyline will win no awards, but I had fun both solving the puzzles and keeping an eye out for Canonical references.

Yes, Mycroft, we truly do hear of Sherlock everywhere.

“Comfortable Chairs and the Latest Periodicals”: Issue 1 of Sherlock Holmes Magazine Now Available

Adrian Braddy has published the first issue of his new Sherlock Holmes Magazine, which covers the Master in all his incarnations.

It’s a 68-page, glossy, full-color periodical but not a commercial venture: It’s written by Holmes fans for Holmes fans. The contents of the first issue:

  • On set: Enola Holmes and The Irregulars
  • Elementary, my dear Alexa
  • A study in tartan
  • The Spanish Secret Files
  • When Holmes was banned
  • Watson! We have a problem
  • Defending Nigel Bruce
  • Bruising encounters
  • Moriarty reimagined
  • 10 years of BBC Sherlock
  • The story of A Study in Scarlet
  • The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
  • Live theatre in lockdown

Also included are some regular features, including a Holmesian crossword and comic strip.

Subscriptions are not yet available, but you can order the first issue, which costs £11.60 (a little over $15) for those outside the UK and Europe. If you’re interested, order soon, because supplies are limited.

A note from the editor:

Please be aware, before you take the plunge and purchase a copy, that this is NOT a commercial venture from a big publishing house. Hopefully Sherlock Holmes Magazine would not look out of place on any newsstand or in any bookstore, but it is important to realise that it is not a professional publication. It is a VERY small operation. There is no team of staff, no customer services department, no subscriptions office—just me, with some assistance from my wife. I am a former magazine journalist but this is my unpaid hobby, not my full-time job. Please be patient as we’ll struggle to match the level of service you would receive from a well-resourced publishing house. For instance, all work on the magazine is carried out outside of working hours. We will, however, do our very best.

Adrian Braddy

Your Gazetteer has not seen the magazine yet but is delighted to be able to support this ambitious project. If you’d like to get a copy or find out more, visit the magazine’s website. You can also email Adrian at editor@sherlockholmesmag.co.uk

“You Will Excuse This Mask”: Show Your Love for Holmes and Watson with Sherlockian Face Masks

Even if you have to cover your nose and mouth, you can still express yourself. Sherlockian publisher Belanger Books has introduced a line of masks featuring images from their book covers, two of which are shown above. They sell for $12.49 apiece, or $10 if you buy 4 or more. Check them out on RedBubble.

Note: These are not N95 masks, nor are they necessarily suitable for close contact, such as caring for a patient with Covid-19, but they’ll work for a trip to the grocery store or the park, with continued social distancing.

No commission or commercial connection here; just wanted to make people aware. Sources of fun are limited right now.