Monday, May 5, 2008

A Holmes and Doyle Bibliography

Here's a piece I wrote for the March issue of the "Friends of the Sherlock Holmes Collections" newsletter (with a few extra bits thrown in through the links).

"In summer it is a favourite resort of the people, but in winter it is desolate enough." (Valley of Fear)

The land of ten thousand lakes is in the midst of what might be characterized as a "typical" winter. The obligatory January thaw has come and gone, Alberta "clippers" have dusted the landscape, while International Falls secured its title as the nation's "icebox." In the midst of these whiteouts, sub-zero nights, and muffled waits for the morning bus the work of the Collections has continued. The winter, while desolate to some, provides its own sort of invigoration to the keeper of these collections. We, like the Post Office, have followed the creed that "neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night" stays us from our appointed rounds.

One of those rounds has been the rather interesting project of updating Ronald B. De Waal's Universal Sherlock Holmes bibliography, in the form of what we call, in shorthand, The Supplement. I've noted in the introduction to this work, now posted on our web site in ten volumes (in the portable document format—PDF), that this bibliography is a work in progress, does not claim to be exhaustive in content, that new works are continually discovered and added, and that readers and researchers are invited to suggest additional content. I have worked on this project for at least a year and there's still much to add. I've been aided by Peter Blau, Les Klinger, Fred Levin, Don Hobbs and many of you who have sent in suggested items for inclusion. Randall Stock and Gary Thaden offered helpful suggestions on improving the structure and form of the bibliography. It has been a joyful, collaborative effort. Thank you for the assistance you've offered!

Generally speaking, I update the bibliography every month, adding about two hundred periodical citations and another hundred monograph citations. All told, there are now about 6,100 citations covering the period 1994 to the present. The bibliography is organized both alphabetically by author and by subject headings. A gradual effort is being made to bring the bibliography into conformity with the organizational structure of De Waal's original work, using his subject structure. Also, since last August, I've posted monthly updates on the web site so that researchers and interested parties can see, at a glance, what has been added each month. As of January, these updates include both book and periodical article additions. One major difference between the original bibliography and this supplement is that I've tried to capture the "passing references" to Doyle and Holmes as well as the core materials. One might argue whether or not this is a worthy addition, but I've found it very interesting to see how the Master and the Literary Agent "pop up" in the general literature of our times. And I believe this will be of some use in future research. It provides evidence of how Holmes as a cultural icon is deeply embedded in the word and thought of modern times.

The bibliography continues to expand. At the moment, and with the help of Don Hobb's "Galactic Sherlock Holmes" bibliography of non-English translations of the Canon (and OCLC's WorldCat), more and more foreign material is being added. The Chinese material alone will probably occupy most of a coming month's addition. On top of that, I am contemplating creating another volume, with a separate listing of audio-visual material. I have already identified over a thousand entries, which are sitting in my database awaiting editing. Also, I have a large stack of materials provided by Karen Murdock on the scion societies that will occupy some of my time. And I continue to work my way through past issues of Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press to make sure I'm not missing anything. (I'm now up to 1999.) No doubt, other material will come my way in the near future that will add new depth and wrinkles to the bibliography. I'm also trying to go back and read (or skim) as much of the core material as possible, in order to provide a brief abstract of the article or book listed. This is a little more time consuming, but provides any number of pleasurable hours on the bus to and from work, or at home near the fire. I invite you to look at, and to use, this bibliographical supplement in your research and writing. And I'm always open to suggestions on how it might be improved.

When I've not been playing around with the Supplement, I've enjoyed getting out and about (or planning such gatherings in the future) and meeting with fellow travelers (or those with an interest in Holmes and the Collections). My time at the Birthday Festivities in New York, always a highlight of the year, was very enjoyable. This year seemed somewhat special, with the chance to have some longer, extended conversations with many of you, be it in the lobby of the Algonquin or over a meal. Thank you for those meaningful times, and for the joy of your company! In a few weeks I'll be speaking to one of the local Norwegian "torske" clubs about the Collections and in April I'll have the chance to address some University women about the Collections and our work. Before we know it, Spring will be here!

Finally, my continued thanks for the many gifts you continue to give to the Collections and its associated funds and endowments. Your giving brings us closer to our goal of an endowed curator's position and sustains the ongoing work of the Collections. May you find joy in the remaining clear, cold days of Winter and in the expectations of Spring.

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