A few years ago, I had an idea for a story about Sherlock Holmes and how he became the “world’s most famous detective.” During my research, I discovered his fans (referred to as “Sherlockians”) are highly organized. Since 1934, these devotees have met to commemorate the great detective. From the original group, interest spread throughout the world. Today, local organizations hold monthly or quarterly meetings to share their admiration for the man in the deerstalker. Beyond these meetings, a number of fan conventions occur throughout the year.
Large-scale fan events are considered a relatively new phenomenon, with the Star Trek convention considered the basis for modern fan culture. Long before the fan convention wave the 1970s, however, Christopher Morley and friends formed the Baker Street Irregulars (BSI) and assembled for an annual dinner in New York City each January. As part of the fan wave of the 1970s, additional events were initiated for those not invited to the BSI dinner and offered more ways to celebrate all things Holmesian. The Agra Treasurers of Dayton, Ohio, for example, hold a “Holmes, Doyle, and Friends” convention in the spring; the BBC have organized a “Sherlocked USA,” based on the Benedict Cumberbatch series in Los Angeles in May; and A Scintillation of Scions will occur in Baltimore, June 9-10. Other events occur in Minnesota and Indiana every three years.
I recently attended the 221BCon in Atlanta. Spread over two and half days (from Friday evening to Sunday late afternoon), fans attended panels on a variety of topics (I spoke on world building, Sherlock in alternate universes, and writing for an anthology), viewed Sherlock Holmes films (continuously running in one room), browsed vendor tables with a variety of Sherlock-inspired items (from full Victorian costumes to autographs of famous Sherlock Holmes actors to items with Victorian-style wallpaper prints), or attended invited celebrities’ talks. This year Curtis Armstrong (Booger from Revenge of the Nerds), Martin Powell (author of both prose and graphic novels), and Lyndsay Faye (author of a collection of short Sherlock Holmes tales) ran panels or Q&A sessions. In all, more than 600 people celebrated their admiration for the great detective.
The convention offered participants an opportunity to “let their hair down” and share a common interest in Victorian England and Sherlock Holmes in their many manifestations—including alternate realities and crossovers into other “worlds” like Harry Potter or Dr. Who. Not only did I share my insights on writing pastiches (as Sherlock Holmes tales are called), I even strutted my stuff as a Victorian woman in the costume exhibition (and even showed a little ankle in the process).
All in all, the weekend allowed fans to share their common interest all while having a good time.
If this sounds like some people you’d like to get to know better, you can find out about upcoming Sherlockian meetings and events on this Website. I’m sure I speak to all fans when I say, “The more Sherlockians, the better!”
About the Author
Liese Sherwood-Fabre has been writing fiction for more than twenty years, the past three with a focus on Sherlock Holmes and Victorian England. She recently released The Life and Times of Sherlock Holmes, a collection of non-fiction essays, and has a short story “The Case of the Tainted Blood” in the alternate universe anthology Curious Incidents: More Improbable Adventures from Mocha Memoirs Press. You can see more about her books and sign up for her newsletter on her Website: www.liesesherwoodfabre.com
“Gimmick-free, old-fashioned storytelling”
The Life and Times of Sherlock Holmes