Holmes: Cultural Measuring Stick (100 years Ago)

I used a newspaper search engine to find Holmes as referenced in the year 1920, a hundred years ago. There are thousands, though I was limited to English language papers. If I simply search for “Sherlock Holmes” in the same digitized papers (since Sherlock crawled out of Conan Doyle’s head) the number is 1,747.746.

photo by H. Klasser

The Times Greater London: One of the quaint characteristics of our postwar world is certainly a great increase in the “agony” (newspaper personals) column habit, even twenty years ago, a sedate thing, mostly appeals from hospitals. It was very rarely a personal advertisement, or one one of those intriguing cryptograms which Sherlock Holmes would disentangle.’ 4 AUG 1920

photo by Z. Zolkiffli

Bingham, Utah Bulletin, USA: A new ouija board story not far from Bingham, worthy of the attention of Sherlock Holmes. That ouija actually gave a certain man the name and address of a woman, even to the street number and so on, who lives four thousand miles away–beyond the sea–and that wicked board even told the man something to tell her!

photo by R. Kirby

The Manchester Guardian, England: There is a powerful god-in-the-machine in the person of the family doctor, a philosophic Sherlock Holmes of the profession who sees through everyone and their intrigues. 30 Nov 1920

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Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Hawaii: But a man does not have to be a Sherlock Holmes to be able to deduce from her general conduct and conversation, whether his coming really does set the golden bells ringing. (a front page article, “The Test of Love.”)

photo by J. Vicente

Montreal Gazette, Canada: Scotland Yard is now accoutered with a mechanism for scientific crime detection that would have made even that incurable scoffer, Sherlock Holmes, open his eyes in astonishment. (excerpted ‘Eye-Opener for Holmes,’ about use of planes in police intelligence, 25 Dec 1920.)

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Sydney Morning Herald: The most severe criticism I can remember of Holmes was from a boatman in Cornwall. He said, ‘I don’t know whether Holmes was killed by that fall over that cliff; but I think he was very badly injured–he was never the same man afterwards.’ (Interview with A.C. Doyle, 23 Nov. 1920)

Soon from Propertius Press, by Susanne M. Dutton: …..Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable

The Game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall, as WWI ends. Holmes fills out entry papers at the rundown Le Dieppe Clinic and Sanatorium on the Normandy coast. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” he hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. Like a tiny explosion unaccountably shifting a far-reaching landscape, the detective’s scribbled response churns desperate action and interlocking mystery into the lives of Holmes’ friends and enemies both.

* https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store

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