The Red Circle is Sherlock's home in Washington DC. Now in our seventh decade, we continue to celebrate his immortality and enjoy each other's company.
All are welcome to join us and share our interest in all things Sherlockian and Doylean.

Next Meeting

Friday, December 4, 2015
Hyatt Regency Bethesda
7400 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD
Drinks at 6:00 -- Dinner at 7:00
Guest Speaker: Julianne Burke
"Fact and Fiction in the Valley of Fear"
PLUS Red Circle Holiday Festivities



Hark! The Herald eBay Thing  From London, Roger Johnson points out an unusual plaque he discovered for sale on eBay. The seller admits he has no idea what the heraldry means, but describes the iconography as the deerstalker and pipe of Sherlock Holmes, a truncheon and handcuffs, a fountain pen and broken sword, stripes, with the red hand of Ulster in the center. Bidding has been less than enthusiastic. The Red Circle wonders whether anyone can come up with a plausible idea of what person or organization would venture to blazon those arms. Send any and all notions to your webmaster here.

Sherlock Holmes
, the new play by Greg Kramer and starring David Arquette, is reviewed by webmaster Alan Rettig. Read it here. Comments? E-mail Alan here. The show moved from Washington to Chicago on November 23, where David Arquette gave an interview saying, incredibly, that American actors should not play Sherlock Holmes. Now he tells us! Read the interview here.

The Exercising Men   The Washington Post is out with its 2016 calendar, featuring the work of their fine photographers. Terry Rettig alerts us to the image for September, captured by Jonathan Newton, which reveals a line of early risers exercising in front of the Reflecting Pool. The Red Circle has it on good authority that Mr. Holmes is already hard at work finding the hidden meaning, although he might find it a somewhat more daunting task than cracking the code used by Elsie Patrick Cubitt and Mr. Slaney. Still, it should not go unnoticed that the photographer was standing on the steps of Abe's Memorial. We are confident that the great detective will eventually get to the bottom of it all, and reveal to the world the message from these daybreak over-achievers!

MEETING NOTES from the Red Circle's September 25 meeting are available here. Thanks once again to Carla Coupe for a fine writeup.

The Times hated it!  When The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes was first published in the United States, the New York Times took a dim view of the effort. "The reader leaves Mr. Sherlock Holmes at the bottom of a Swiss precipice, smashed into smithereens, and with the sincere hope that Mr. Doyle will never resuscitate him." So much for spoiler alerts. The Times hadn't been any kinder when the first group of stories was published by Harper Brothers in 1892. They panned The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by saying of the detective, "You get a little weary of his perspicacity." Now the Times has published these reviews--and more--under a short cover piece by Mark Bulik. The whole package is a must read, and you can find it here. This illustration is the cover of your webmaster's copy of the Harper Brothers edition of The Adventures. It's the 1900 printing, not the rare 1892, but it is still fun to read from a volume that was printed while so much of the Canon was yet to be written!

Red Letter Day for the Red Circle  About 100 Red Circle members and friends converged on the Bethesda Row Cinema on September 26 for the Washington Metro Area premiere of the 1916 classic film Sherlock Holmes, starring William Gillette. Peter Blau introduced the screening, noting the overwhelming impact of Gillette's performances onstage and in this film on the early popularity of the great detective, and on his subsequent staying power. It was clear after watching the marvelously restored film that a great debt is owed Mr. Gillette by Sherlockians past, present and future. A collection of photos from the screening can be found to the right below the calendar.

What's the double meaning of this?  Russian Sherlockian Alexander Orlov notes that this ad for the London production of Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch is open to more than one interpretation. Of course, when we see it we're meant to think, "Alas poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio." But Mr. Orlov suggests that another passage also fits: "A cast of your skull, sir, until the original is available, would be an ornament to any anthropological museum." That's Dr. James Mortimer's professional judgment early in The Hound of the Baskervilles after impertinently asking to run his finger along Sherlock Holmes' parietal fissure. It seems that, try as he might, Mr. Cumberbatch cannot escape the thrall of the detective at 221B.

More opportunities to see Hamlet  Peter Blau reports that the National Theatre's stage-to-screen production of Cumberbatch's Hamlet is "imaginatively staged and full of energy." The premiere performance on October 15 will be followed by numerous encores around the country. To find screenings near you, click here.

New Sherlock Special, "The Abominable Bride," to air January 1  The producers have announced that the long-awaited Sherlock special will ring in the new year on both sides of the Atlantic, premiering in the United States and England on Friday, January 1. PBS Masterpiece Mystery has scheduled "The Abominable Bride" at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on New Years day, with an encore on Sunday, January 10 at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.  As the producers promised and as this photo confirms, the 90-minute film will take us back to the familiar setting of fog, gaslamps, hansoms and the Old Queen as Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman reprise their roles in a traditional Sherlockian setting. In addition to the detective and the doctor, Mary Morstan (Amanda Abbington), Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves) and Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs) are also slated turn up at 221b Baker Street. And we can now see a delightful trailer to tantalize us. In addition to the trailer, there's a short scene from the program which you can watch here. When you do, notice that the musical underscore at the beginning of the clip is an homage to Patrick Gowers' main title theme for the Jeremy Brett Granada series. The degree to which the Sherlock producers honor what has gone before is persistently impressive and touching.

William Gillette's Sherlock Holmes on Blu-ray/DVD  Those who enjoyed The Red Circle's theatrical screening of William Gillette's classic 1916 film Sherlock Holmes will be glad to know that they can watch it again at home, now that Flicker Alley has released the combination Blu-ray/DVD three-disc set. In addition to the beautifully restored film, the discs are handsomely packaged with an informative booket, and are loaded with many attractive extras. You can order now at the usual online outlets, and--at a nice discount--from the film's distributor, Flicker Alley.

But wait. . .there's more!  There's also an excellent book about the film, in French and English, prepared by Thierry Saint-Joanis for the Société Sherlock Holmes de France, full of excellent illustrations, and you can see thumb-nail images of its pages, and purchase the book, at the society's website  

Political allusions (or is it illusions?)  Proud of the society's location, members of The Red Circle have for decades enjoyed keeping watch for political allusions to the Canon, and we already have the first such discovery from the ongoing if not perpetual campaign for the presidency: In The Washington Post's Plum Line blog, Greg Sargent writes. . ."The internet is a fickle place. For weeks, it lavished attention on the storyline that Jeb Bush was destined to play the role of chief antagonist to Donald Trump — Jeb would be Sherlock Holmes to Trump’s Professor Moriarty, bravely calling out Trump’s vile demagoguery and basking in accolades from it. But Jeb’s efforts to challenge Trump failed to capture the imagination."

GridLOCK DC 2015, the annual Sherlock Holmes DC confab, concluded its second convention and its second success in August. Nea Dodson's excellent report on all the fun is posted in our Writings section, and you can jump directly to it by clicking here.

Meeting Notes 
from the Red Circle's June 26 dinner meeting are available

An Actor of Many Colors  For those who may need a Benedict Cumberbatch encounter before the next Sherlock film airs, we draw your attention to the Benedict Cumberbatch Unofficial Colouring Book, part of a series called "Colour Me Good." Grammatical problems aside, it may be just the thing to keep the BBC's star detective top-of-mind during the long hiatus between his Sherlockian turns. The book is available widely, including at amazon, where both new and used copies are offered. That said, your webmaster is constrained to point out that purchasing a used copy of a coloring book might be imprudent.  

Seeing Red: An Elementary Omission   On June 12 the Washington Post published a review of a new book by art critic Jacky Colliss Harvey entitled Red: A History of the Redhead. The book traces red hair throughout the ages and across multiple disciplines, including science, religion, politics, feminism and sexuality, literature, and art. But alert Red Circle member George Spencer noticed that there was no mention of a certain Mr. Jabez Wilson and his fellow applicants to The Red-Headed League. George's letter to the Post was published on June 26. It reads, "The June 14 Book World review of Red: A History of the Redhead by Jacky Colliss Harvey, had many interesting tidbits, but it lacked a reference to the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Red-Headed League," published in 1891. The fact that one of the stories was so titled shows that late-19th-century Londoners were aware that redheads were something out of the ordinary." Good catch George! And if you'd like to read Ms. Harvey's review, you can find it here

The Silver Blaze: Sherlockians Cash In on a Breeder Named Watson  Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course played host to 29 Sherlockians attending the revival of the Silver Blaze (Southern Division) on  May 23. This 29th running and the first since 1998 brought with it a beautiful day. Attendees from a half dozen regional Sherlockian societies dined on crab cake sandwiches and scoured the Racing Form for Sherlockian clues to help them pick winners. The Silver Blaze was a mile and a sixteenth run on the turf track, and many put their money on horse number 6, I'm Da Big Man, whose breeder's last name is Watson. And a wise choice it was, because he won the race handily! The winner's trophy was presented by Joann Dobry, the lady who made the longest trip to join the fun. Afterward, many in the group repaired to the nearby Mount Washington Tavern to squander their winnings on dinner and continue their conversations and merriment. Organizer Greg Ruby tells us that plans are already underway for the 30th running at Pimlico on Saturday, May 14, 2016.

Getting "the dirt" on criminals  Many Red Circle members remember that four years ago FBI forensic geologist Maureen Bottrell joined us to share the ways in which modern crime solvers follow "in the footprints" of Sherlock Holmes by analyzing soil, rock and other geological clues. Now comes a new article in the journal Nature which details the adventures of one of Maureen's colleagues, Lorna Dawson, as geologists do more than scratch the surface in pursuit of evildoers. It's a fun read online here, with a pdf version also available here.

The original BBC Sherlock is back  is the delightful slogan devised by the British Film Institute for its new four-DVD set with all of the Douglas Wilmer television shows from 1964 and 1965, and his fans will welcome the chance to see the series again. Two of the shows have been reconstructed, since only some of the original footage has survived, and there are some nice added features. The set costs £39.99 at the BFI website  (it's less expensive, of course, at Amazon). Unfortunately, the set is region-2 only, and it's unlikely that there will be a region-1 or multi-region version, but there are convenient programs that will allow you to play region-2 DVDs on your computers.  Douglas Wilmer is alive and well, at 95 years old, and had a cameo role as a disgruntled member of the Diogenes Club in an episode of the BBC's Sherlock series.

  • Scuttlebutt: One Fixed Point in a Changing Age  Our own Peter Blau's monthly Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press has endured for more than four decades, and has a permanent home right here on our website. It's the most remarkable collection of Sherlockian news and notes anywhere, and your webmaster recommends a monthly visit. The very latest edition is available now, as are past numbers. It's just a click away--use the "Scuttlebutt" button at the top of the page.
    • Be an Inner Circle Contributor We welcome submissions from all quarters for this page. Please direct materials to the webmaster, alan@redcircledc.org
    • For earlier, archived items from The Inner Circle, click here.