About Vincent Starrett
Vincent Starrett had a long and influential writing career. Born in Toronto in 1886, his family soon moved to Chicago, where Starrett lived until his death in 1974. Starrett started as a newspaper reporter and branched out to write fiction, poetry, magazine articles, book reviews and both mystery short stories and novels. An avid collector, his most popular book, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes was based on his collection of early and important books about Arthur Conan Doyle's master detective.
For those looking for a fuller biography, the Wikipedia entry on Starrett provides good basic information.
This blog is dedicated to exploring Starrett's work, his connections with other writers, and his influence, especially in the world of Sherlock Holmes.
The illustration at the top of this page is by Eugene Hutchinson and shows Starrett's handsome profile. The photo was first published in a 1929 catalogue published by Oppenheim's, a clothing store with locations in Jackson and Bay City, Michigan. Starrett's essay in the catalogue, "Fashions in Fiction" will be the subject of a future blog post.
About Ray Betzner
After failing my drivers test twice at the age of 15, I finally passed and immediately drove to the McKeesport, Pa., branch of the Carnegie Library. It was here, on a lower shelf where the dust tended to collect, that I found two books that would remain companions for the next four decades: The Complete Sherlock Holmes with an introduction by Christopher Morley, founder of the Baker Street Irregulars; and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes by Vincent Starrett.
In this book, Starrett wrote about Sherlock Holmes in a loving fashion that was child like, without being childish. He also introduced me to the BSI, a group of Sherlock Holmes devotees who would gather each year in New York to celebrate Holmes' birth. It seemed impossible that the son of a steel worker could one day become a member, and yet, here I am all these many years later happily bearing the BSI investiture "The Agony Column."
Over the years, I have gathered up bits and pieces by Starrett in books and magazines. I created this blog to share these discoveries with that small but merry band of fellow Starrettians.
This is also a thank you to Starrett for introducing me to the BSI and the world of Holmes fanatics. It's been fun.
Of all of his contributions to the Sherlock Holmes literature, perhaps none is as well known as the sonnett, "221 B."
Here dwell together still two men of note
Who never lived and so can never die:
How very near they seem, yet how remote
That age before the world went all awry.
But still the game’s afoot for those with ears
Attuned to catch the distant view-halloo:
England is England yet, for all our fears
Only those things the heart believes are true.
A yellow fog swirls past the window-pane
As night descends upon this fabled street:
A lonely hansom splashes through the rain,
The ghostly gas lamps fail at twenty feet.
Here, though the world explode, these two survive,
And it is always eighteen ninety-five.