From the Battered Tin Dispatch Box:
The Northern Musgraves
The Northern Musgraves Sherlock Holmes Society was founded in 1987 by Kathryn White and David Stuart Davies, who ran the society from 1987 until 1999, when they handed it on to fresh blood.
The Northern Musgraves no longer exist, but here’s a flavour of what they got up to.
We will dig out some photographs and articles to share with you in future.
The Northern Musgraves published an annual journal, The Musgrave Papers, and The Ritual, its newsletter.
We held meetings around the north, from visiting places connected with Conan Doyle, such as Edinburgh and Stonyhurst, to locations around Manchester used for filming the Granada TV series, to comfy weekends in hotels. We always aimed to blend fun with friendship and scholarship, creating our own dramatisations, quizzes and silliness to explore the world of Baker Street.
We were very lucky that the society’s honorary members included:
Dame Jean Conan Doyle, Douglas Wilmer, Peter Cushing, Jeremy Brett, Edward Hardwicke, Michael Cox, Clive Merrison, Michael Williams, Bert Coules, Richard Lancelyn Green & John Bennett Shaw.
Our honorary members were very supportive of the society. Dame Jean Conan Doyle gave us her blessing; Peter Cushing designed the society’s logo; Douglas Wilmer reprised the role of Holmes in a dramatised case at one of our meetings; Michael Cox and Bert Coules gave talks, along with Jeremy Paul and Richard Lancelyn Green. Jeremy Brett was due to attend a weekend meeting in Edinburgh, but sadly ill health prevented him.
Why Sherlock Holmes?
Editorial by David Stuart Davies & Kathryn White, from the first issue of the society’s journal, The Musgrave Papers, 1988. The points made then, we feel, are still relevant today.
The inevitable question is – why Sherlock Holmes? Why do normal, sane and intelligent people devote so much time and enthusiasm to a fictional characater created over a century ago? Of course there are certain stock answers that one can give, determined to some extent by age and personal proclivities. There is the playing of the light-hearted academic game started by Ronald Knox, which involves investigating the anomalies and omissions in the Canon caused by Watson’s slip of the pen: establishing the true date of certain cases; providing solutions and theories with respect to some obscure point – exactly how many times was Watson married, which university did Holmes attend, who was Mrs Turner, and why were the Moriarty brothers both called James?
Then there is the enjoyment of the period and the wonderful atmosphere evoked by the stories: it is a world where no matter what nefarious deeds were being planned, the world’s foremost champion of law and order was on hand to set things right.
In the company of Conan Doyle’s mythical occupants of Baker Street we return to a magic childhood. Sir Arthur himself indicated that the stories appealed to the ‘boy who was half a man and the man who was half a boy’.
As we immerse ourselves in these superbly written tales, Sherlockians everywhere shed the shackles of the modern day and are free to thrill to the Hansom cab ride through the darkened streets, knowing that once more the game is afoot.
All these reasons and more may be proffered in response to the queston – why Sherlock Holmes? And in some way they are all applicable. But there is something else. Something that lies in the heart and beggars explanation. We know what it is, we feel it, we all share it, but it is too intangible, too precious to verbalise. That is why there is no truly appropriate answer to such a question – only a feeling.