The Russell Companion gives background to the Mary Russell Memoirs. In turn, this web page gives background to the Companion, with links to videos, biographies, and generally interesting places on the web that touch upon the Memoirs. Other background and links can be found on each book’s page.
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
If you’d like Laurie to read you a bit of Beekeeper’s Apprentice, drop in here.
You might also like to see what John Cleese and Rowan Atkinson have to say about the art of beekeeping.
Monstrous Regiment begins in a hansom cab, a fine piece of Victorian technology, read about it here.
As for the, ahem, end result of having 50,000 horses hauling people and goods all over London, read about the Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894.
And when this article says that “London’s very last horse cab license was surrendered on the 3rd April 1947,” we know who had that last one, don’t we? (Let’s see, Holmes would have been 86 at the time…)
Letter of Mary
Religious mysteries, featuring sleuths who are also priests, nuns, rabbis, and the like, let a writer explore greater mysteries while telling a mystery. So, why does a theologian turn to crime? And are modern crime writers who do so simply continuing the tradition of the Medieval mystery play? And was that tradition linked to the earliest recorded legal thriller, Susanna and the Elders?
Arthur Conan Doyle was not always the biggest fan of his creation—in this video, he is far more interested in his Spiritualist studies than in Holmes. And it would be nice to think that he’d met Sabine Baring Gould when he went to Dartmoor, although if he did, he surely would not have been able to resist using Lewtrenchard Manor house, with its murals of the Virtues including Investigatio:
The characters in the novel are as varied as the land: Two apparent Bedouin who take Russell and Holmes under their wings—er, robes; the bigger-than-life Edmund Allenby; an archaeologist (who later gives Russell A Letter of Mary); T. E. Lawrence has a brief cameo in O Jerusalem, in his role as Arab hero politician rather than archaeologist.
During the Great War, British men and boys as young as 17 arrived in France and were faced by this. They wrote letters home from the Front. Some of them ended up like this (this is not a video for the faint of heart.) Others broke down, dropped their rifles, did not acknowledge orders, or fled–306 of those British men were convicted of desertion and cowardice, and shot at dawn.
And although the Raj is long gone, perhaps men on horses still go pigsticking—although most of us will only experience the sport vicariously.
Holmes’ trip into Tibet was decades before the Francis Younghusband 1904 expedition.
Some early Intelligence reports on the Empire’s frontier.
Laurie’s grandparents, in the great quake.
In this 360 degree panorama, Lafayette Park, Mary Russell’s post-fire refuge, can be seen towards the left.
The tent city in Golden Gate Park.
The area south of San Francisco where the accident occurs is known as Devil’s slide, for good reason.
The Language of Bees
The psychotherapeutic roots of Surrealist Art.
The Ring of Brodgar, in the Orkneys.
The oddities of the Twenties:
– The Moonella Naturalist Group.
– Arthur Conan Doyle’s passion, Spiritualism.
God of the Hive
British espionage between the wars.
“Dottyville” for shell-shocked officers, in Edinburgh.
One wounded officer, Siegfried Sassoon.
The London that confuses Holmes was shaped by the German Zeppelin, whose raids opened vast areas of London to re- building.
British films of the Twenties.
Brigantines, the boat of the brigands.
The Lisbon castle.
Fernando Pessoa, Poet Laureate of Portugal?
Garment of Shadows
Beekeeping for Beginners
A map of the Great War Zeppelin raids