The Baker Street Irregulars' Distinguished Speaker Lecture took place as planned at the Williams Club on Thursday evening, January 10. The speaker was Sir Christopher Frayling, author of Nightmare: The Birth of Horror.
We were treated to a very interesting talk lasting about 45 minutes, the subject of which was The Hound of the Baskervilles. Sir Christopher noted that of the 220+ (221?) films that have been made about Sherlock Holmes, The Hound is the single most popular story, having been made and remade 18 times. And I think everyone assembled agreed that it has not yet been filmed satisfactorily.
But the point of Sir Christopher's talk was to investigate the timing around Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's authorship of the book. The generally accepted timing has given way to the ridiculous supposition that Doyle murdered Fletcher Robinson, who gave Doyle some background information that helped with the creation of the story.
In his lecture, Sir Christopher built an airtight case against this while doing some detective work of his own. The key element that helped Frayling in his efforts is an item that he picked up at the Christies' auction of Doyle memorabilia: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's self-registering diary for 1901. He said that since it was so small, it went unnoticed by other collectors, who were there for more significant items. He managed to get it for a relative bargain. I won't give away the full story here, as it's best told in context - and it's likely to appear in a future issue of The Baker Street Journal (now would be a good time to subscribe, if you don't yet).
We were very lucky to have been treated to a talk by this consummate researcher and scholar. He certainly has a great depth of knowledge about Victorian horror and gothic elements - but he's also a font of knowledge on spaghetti westerns, if you can believe it.