The Mary Russell Companion

The Mary Russell CompanionBuy the Book:
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Release Date: 2014


The world of Mary Russell, apprentice-turned-partner of the great detective Sherlock Holmes, has long fascinated her followers.  Over the course of ten Memoirs and a number of short stories, Russell has revealed much about her life—but far more has gone unexplored until now.

Filled with new and original material, The Mary Russell Companion helps to close that gaping chasm of ignorance.  With lavish illustrations and a firm commitment to academic formalities, the Companion serves as a guide to all things Russell.

First and foremost, it is an Entertainment.  Fun and informative essays alternate with the words of Miss Russell herself, with supplemental material that appears here in print for the first time.

Second, it is an aid to scholarship.  Key elements of the Memoirs are brought together in one place: maps of Russell’s travels, a detailed chronology of the books, biographies of the central players (those known to Arthur Conan Doyle, those known to the world at large, and those seen exclusively in the Russell Memoirs), and reviews of this remarkable woman’s extraordinary set of skills: all that is known about Russell’s history through the first ten of her Memoirs.

In the interest of scrupulous scholarship, the first two chapters of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice are given a close and detailed series of annotations with the assistance of the Crime World’s preeminent Annotator, Leslie S. Klinger, focusing on everything from a description of gorse to an analysis of the number of times Sherlock Holmes laughs, chuckles, and expresses amusement in the Conan Doyle stories.

Beyond a compilation of facts, however, the Companion aims at context and analysis, with commentaries on many aspects of Mary Russell’s life.  Is Russell a feminist?  What are her thoughts about God?  Why did she choose Laurie R. King as an agent to publish the Memoirs—and what does she think about their being called “novels” “by” Laurie R. King?  How do Russell’s thoughts and experiences intersect with those of her literary agent, and how much did King borrow from Miss Russell’s academic work when it came to writing her Master’s Thesis?

Yes, there’s even a discreet chapter on the Russell-Holmes love life.

A floor plan of the Sussex house Russell shares with Sherlock Holmes and Mrs Hudson is joined by a review of what generations of Holmes scholars have said about its location.  There are three interviews between Miss Russell and her literary agent, one of which, new for the Companion, celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the first Russell/King collaboration, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice.  There are even recipes contributed by Mrs Hudson, and her musings on the comparative stimulants of tea and coffee in the Holmes household.

Until Miss Russell chooses to pen her own Companion, The Mary Russell Companion is the definitive guide to the world of Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes.


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, check out the video below.

You might also like to see what John Cleese and Rowan Atkinson have to say about the art of beekeeping.

Monstrous Regiment

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.

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?

The Moor

Baring-Gould was in love with Dartmoor (now a national park) and although he wrote fiction about the moor, much of his “non- fiction” stretches belief rather a lot.

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.

O Jerusalem

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.

Justice Hall

During the Great War, British men and boys as young as 17 arrived in France. 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.

Badger Place has its roots in a number of English country houses, such as Broughton “Castle” and Owlpen Manor (whose buildings have been subjected to a study of dendrochronology!)

The Game

The Grand Trunk Road, running across the north of India from Calcutta to Peshawar, is the country’s main artery.

And although the Raj is long gone, perhaps men on horses still go pigsticking—although most of us will only experience the sport vicariously.

Rudyard Kipling’s Kim is pulled between the English spymaster, “Colonel Creighton” (based on Thomas Montgomerie) and the boy’s beloved Tibetan red-hat lama.

Holmes’ trip into Tibet was decades before the Francis Younghusband 1904 expedition.

Locked Rooms

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Laurie’s grandparents, in the great quake.

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 oddities of the Twenties:

– The Moonella Naturalist Group.

– Arthur Conan Doyle’s passion, Spiritualism.

– London in the Twenties.

God of the Hive

British espionage between the wars.

Mansfield Smith-Cumming, Vernon KellReilly, ace of spies—even children’s author Arthur Ransome.

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.


Pirate King

British films of the Twenties.

The Lisbon castle.

Fernando Pessoa, Poet Laureate of Portugal?

Garment of Shadows

The truck?

Raisuli in the news

The Rif Revolt

Morocco in the Twenties

Beekeeping for Beginners

map of the Great War Zeppelin raids