[Editor's note: the following was submitted to us by Robert Stek, BSI ("The Mysterious Scientist")]
Announcing the formation of Southern Arizona's first Sherlock Holmes scion society - at Bookmans, 1930 E Grant Road, Tucson - Sunday, March 20, 2011 from 2 PM to 4 PM.
The 'parent' organization of Sherlockian societies is the Baker Street Irregulars, started in 1934 by one of the founders and editors of the Saturday Review of Literature, Christopher Morley. Today there are over 400 active scion societies worldwide, and nearly 200 in the U.S. alone. What is a scion society? According to the late John Bennett Shaw, a distinguished Sherlockian, "It's two Sherlockians, a copy of the Canon [the 60 stories], and a bottle. In a pinch, you can dispense with one of the Sherlockians." Shaw also suggested that a scion society might begin with three members; that way, two can vote the third one out if necessary.
The purpose of any Sherlockian group is to "keep green the memory of the Master" and to play the 'Grand Game' - i.e., Holmes, Watson and all the other characters in the stories are not fictitious. Watson wrote these stories and had them published by his Literary Agent, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Part of the pleasure of playing the Game is in using Holmes' own methods in deducing more information about the stories, and in finding inconsistencies and errors in the Canon (or sometimes Conan, as the 56 short stories and 4 short novels are collectively referred to). For example, Holmes referred to his college days - we know he is brilliant and can therefore deduce that he went either to Oxford or Cambridge. Or in A Study in Scarlet, Watson refers to his wound during the Afghan war - at the battle of Maiwand a Jezail bullet grazed the subclavian artery in his shoulder - but in later stories he limped due to his war wound. Did he suffer two injuries? Watson's wife referred to her husband, John H. Watson, as 'James.' One explanation is that the 'H.' stood for the Scottish name 'Hamish' - a variation of 'James.'
The focus of a scion society is both fun and scholarship. Often a particular story is suggested reading for a meeting. At the meeting the story may be discussed and analyzed and/or a quiz may be given on the story with a small Sherlockian prize awarded the person with the highest score. Toasts (alcoholic and/or non-alcoholic, depending upon the venue) are also given at meetings - to Holmes, Watson, Mrs. Hudson, the woman - Irene Adler - Mycroft, the Queen, and even to the Literary Agent; often the toasts are in rhyme. One or two 'learned papers' are usually presented by attendees, usually focusing upon some inconsistency in a story, perhaps a new deduction or possibly a review of some current Sherlockian film or play.
In some scions, Victorian dress is encouraged and may be the topic of a talk or two, or even a fashion show! Factual papers about the Holmesian era are often presented; for example, sometimes prices in pounds and shillings are mentioned in the stories. Adjusted for inflation and currency exchange, what would these figures be today? Dramatic readings and short plays may also be presented and as well older movies or videos may be shown. An interesting discussion of Sherlockian scion societies can be found at Sherlockian.net: Singular sets of people.
Formal meetings may be held two or more times a year. Small groups often meet at someone's home - sometimes light refreshments are provided, sometimes a potluck dinner is organized. Larger meetings are sometimes held at local restaurants, especially if the prepared meal is one described in one of the stories. Other than paying for meals or a pro rata proportion of refreshments and/or venue rental, there are no dues.
Whether March 20th from 2 PM to 4 PM at Bookmans turns out to be an intimate meeting of three Sherlockians or a standing room only crowd (the meeting room at Bookmans can only hold about 25), this will be the first meeting of the as-yet-unnamed southern Arizona Sherlockian scion society. (The Desert Beekeepers meet monthly in Fountain Hills!) RSVP's appreciated to: firstname.lastname@example.org by March 18th. And since "A Scandal in Bohemia" occurred on March 20, 1888, you might find it worthwhile to re-read that famous case for this first meeting!
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