The Transfixed Correspondence of Phoenix is afoot! From die-hard admirers to new fans of The Great Detective, to devotees of British mysteries and those who pine for the Late Victorian and Edwardian Eras - all are welcome to lift a glass and share your thoughts on all things Sherlock. We'll discuss the original Conan Doyle writings (the Canon), dip into Sherlockian scholarship and consider Sherlock's many incarnations in radio, TV, movies and the pastiches (stories and novels created by other writers) and how each generation re-invents him. We'll wrestle with classic questions (was Sherlock really a misogynist?) and debate broader topics such Sherlock as a dysfunctional genius, Gothic influences, the presence of British colonialism in the Canon, etc. And we aren't forgetting the supporting cast of Dr. John Watson, Mrs. Hudson and Mycroft, clients, villains, the police and Scotland Yard. "Come at once if convenient. If inconvenient, come all the same."
JAMES is the leader. COPP has long been beloved of many a Sherlockian, yet it didn't make the cut when, in June 1927, ACD listed his twelve favorite Canonical stories. (The Strand ran a contest to see whether any readers could match, or come close, that list and claim a prize of 100 pounds and an autographed copy of ACD's memoir, "Thoughts and Adventures".) That was the last time he wrote anything about his most famous creation; he died three years later without having broached the subject again in print. COPP is the 14th Holmes story; it first appeared in the June 1892 Strand, with Paget illustrations. It then was the last story collected into the Adventures in October 1892. We are in 1890, or thereabouts, with Holmes and Watson as vigorous men in their mid-thirties. COPP gives us one of the four Violets (can you name the other three and their stories?) and one of the most menacing villains of the Canon. Jephro Rucastle rivals Charles Augustus Milverton in false cheer laid on over pure evil. We have strong elements of the Victorian gothic genre in which ACD excelled: a lonely country house with a secret, inexplicable and grotesque behaviors, surly family servants, a damsel walled up to thwart an unsuitable marriage. Granada filmed an excellent adaptation in 1985 with the late, lamented Natasha Richardson as Violet Hunter. Douglas Wilmer starred in a 1965 BBC version for TV. Wilmer responded to criticism of his portrayal by pointing out that he played the character as written. "People complained that I wasn't sympathetic but I didn't set out to be. I don't regard Holmes as a sympathetic character at all. It would have been hell to share rooms with him." The earliest film starred Georges Treville as Holmes. This 24-minute short feature was part of the first officially authorized series of Holmes Films; they were produced in 1912 under the supervision of Conan Doyle himself. The COPP episode is the eighth and final episode, and also the only episode that survives (see it on YouTube).