by Kathleen Kaska
“My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don’t.” (The Adventures of the Blue Carbuncle, 1892)
I’ve often wondered about the profundity of one of the most famous quotes from Arthur Conan Doyle’s entire Canon. Was Holmes aware he was destined to become the world’s greatest detective? Did he know his name would become a household word synonymous with clever, deductive reasoning? That he would live on forever? My guess is he probably did.
To what can we attribute Sherlock Holmes’ popularity and immortality? Rather than attempting an answer, I’ll just turn to the Great Detective himself:
“My mind rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession—or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world.” (The Sign of Four, 1890)
Sherlock Holmes may be the only one in the world but he is not alone in the world. Even he might be surprised to learn that more than 500 active societies around the globe gather to discuss anything Holmesian. While writing The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book, I often visited the website of the most famous Sherlock Holmes society, The Baker Street Irregulars—created by founder Peter Blau. Here are some of my other favorite society names: The Keepers of the Bullpup (Madison, Georgia); Dr. Watson’s Neglected Patients (Denver); The Game is Afoot (Charlottesville, Virginia); The Desert Beekeepers (Fountain Hills, Arizona); Mycroft’s Isolated Companions (Cleveland); and The Reichenbach Irregulars (Arbon, Switzerland).
While living in Austin, I was a member of the Waterloo Station (Austin’s original name) Sherlock Holmes Society. After moving back to the Pacific Northwest last year, and missing those Holmesian gatherings, I decided to start a local society. We’re a fledging group, but even in our first meeting, you could see the joy and excitement on members’ faces as soon as we began discussing Silver Blaze.
What’s the name of our new Sherlock Holmes Society? It comes from that very story where Holmes is discussing a case with Inspector Gregory, to wit: “[Gregory] Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention? [Holmes] To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time. [Gregory] The dog did nothing in the night-time. [Holmes] That was the curious incident.”
The Dogs in the Nighttime: The Sherlock Holmes Society of Anacortes, is open to the public. So if you ever find yourself north of Seattle on the first Monday of the month, you’re welcome to drop by. We usually meet during happy hour at a local pub. Food and drinks are cheap. The conversation becomes more stimulating as the meeting progresses.
P.S.: If you’re a member of a local Sherlock Holmes society, I’d love to hear from you.