The Standard Doyle Company: Christopher Morley on Sherlock Holmes

The Standard Doyle Company: Christopher Morley on Sherlock Holmes

The Standard Doyle Company: Christopher Morley on Sherlock Holmes

The Standard Doyle Company: Christopher Morley on Sherlock Holmes


The cult of Sherlock Holmes and its organizational centerpiece, The Baker Street Irregulars, were products of the fertile mind of Christopher Morley (1890-1957), one of the most versatile and prolific writers of the first half of the twentieth century. Novelist, essayist, columnist, Book-of-the-Month Club judge, poet, panelist, and promoter, Morley was an avid exponent of the literature he loved. Few writers were closer to his heart than Arthur Conan Doyle, whose tales of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were still being penned during Morley's boyhood. This collection is a virtual anthology of Morley's many styles. In addition to old favorites like "In Memoriam Sherlock Holmes," the preface to the Doubleday edition of The Complete Sherlock Holmes published in 1930 and probably the most widely read Sherlockian essay of them all, here are previously unpublished or never-before-collected essays, poems, short stories, and even a play. Excerpts from the fifteen years of Morley's columns in the Saturday Review of Literature and a decade of his "Clinical Notes by a Resident Patient" in the Baker Street Journal (currently published by Fordham University Press) cover ever aspect of Holmes's world - from dressing gowns to Turkish baths, from beekeeping to the "B" in 221B Baker Street. As Morley put it in his little-known reader for high-school students, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, "A Textbook of Friendship, "The beginning reader of Sherlock Holmes concerns himself with little more than attentive enjoyment, but there is a post-graduate school as well. There is a special and superior pleasure in reading anything so much more carefully than its author ever did." The Standard Doyle Company - Morley's punning title for the Baker Street Irregulars - is an advanced syllabus for the lover of Sherlockian literature and lore.


This volume is a by-product of my love for the literature of both Arthur Conan Doyle and Christopher Morley, whose writings I have studied for much of the last quarter-century. My goal was to gather Morley's Sherlockian writings under one cover for both the scholar of Sherlockiana or Morleyana and the general reader with some interest in Holmes or Morley. Representing almost thirty years of productivity and a number of genres, these writings are impressive when read together (though the haste of composition and the very frailty of hebdomadal journalism cannot be escaped).

Much of this material first appeared in The Saturday Review of Literature in Morley's columns titled "The Bowling Green" and "Trade Winds." I spent many hours going through the Review issue by issue, from its inception in 1924 through 1940, when Morley stopped editing "Trade Winds." ("Bowling Green" ceased in 1938.) I was aided in this search by the Index, 1924–1944 to the Saturday Review published in 1971 by R. R. Bowker (but I found that many references to Sherlock Holmes were not indexed). I also owe a debt of gratitude to Ron De Waal's two-volume Sherlockian bibliography. I have tried to be complete, but a few things may have missed my search (particularly contributions to the Bookof-the-Month Club Newsletter, which I was unable to see).

The reader seeking further information on Morley might be rewarded by reading the following (full citations can be found in the list of works cited at the end of this volume): for his life, Helen McK. Oakley, and Mark I. Wallach and Jon Bracker; for his books, Alfred P. Lee, Guy R. Lyle and H. Tatnall Brown, Jr., and Anna Lou Samuelson Ashby. Major collections are available for study at Haverford College, the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin, and the Bryant Library, Roslyn, New York.

Morley also figures in several of the autobiographies of his contemporaries, including Felix Riesenberg, Vincent Starrett, Frances Steloff, and his brothers Felix and Frank.

I would like to thank the following people without whom I could not have proceeded: the late Seymour Adelman and the late . . .

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