A (Belated but Joyous) International Friendship Day

(I was absent yesterday and thus failed to share this lovely sentiment from our dear friend “Bobbie.” I apologize that this is a day late. However I feel it is better late than never at all, so now I am honored to present this message from him to all of you. – Carla Buttons)

Dear Friends and Fellow Watsonians,
Today is International Friendship Day
And so, to our dear Dr Watson and Mr Holmes, the very epitome of friendship.
Let us raise a toast to them.

“May I offer you a glass of Chianti, Miss Morstan? Or of Tokay? I keep no other wines.”
– Sherlock Holmes asks Mary Morstan in The Sign of Four

Kumar Bhatia
John H Watson Society “Bobbie”
Sherlock Holmes Society of India
Sherlock Holmes Society of London
Sherlock Holmes Fan Club of Hungary

Original William Gillette Silent Film Discovered

Article From our Member, Kumar Bhatia “Bobbie”

William Gillette’s original performance on film as Sherlock Holmes has been found. Kumar Bhatia “Bobbie” sends us this article from India.  Follow the link to the fascinating description of the film, the restoration, screenshots and the planned premier.

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A Serious and Sad Note

Our good friend and Member from UAE and India, Kumar Bhatia “Bobbie,” remembers the global reach and potential of Doctor Watson and Mr Holmes and sends this poignant thought:

Dear Friends and Fellow Watsonians:

Extremely sad and, indeed, terrible news about the shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines flight.


See what Sherlock Holmes had to say, more than 125 years ago:

“What object is served by this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must tend to some end, or else our universe is ruled by chance, which is unthinkable.”

Thank you, Bobbie, for your thoughts and for reminding us of the enduring hope of a better humanity in the Canon.

April: A Busy Month

Our good and loyal Charter Member, Kumar Bhatia “Bobbie” sends along this compendium of April from the Canon:

Dear Friends:

April is here. A rather busy month it was as Watson tells us! 

“It was early April in the year ’83, that I woke one morning to find Sherlock Holmes standing, fully dressed, by the side of my bed . . . .” 
–Dr Watson, “The Speckled Band” 

“On referring to my notes, I see that it was on the 14th of April, that I received a telegram from Lyons, which informed me that Holmes was lying ill, in the Hotel Dulong . . . . .” 
–Dr Watson, “The Reigate Squires”

“It was with some surprise that I saw him walk into my consulting room, upon the evening of the 24th of April. It stuck me that he was looking even paler and thinner than usual . . . .” 
–Dr Watson, “The Final Problem” 

“. . . . and now at the close of April, I find myself in such a position through your continual persecution that I am in positive danger of losing my liberty. . . .” 
–Prof Moriarty, “The Final Problem”

“ . . . . such was the remarkable narrative to which I listened on that April evening, a narrative which would have been utterly incredible to me, had it not been confirmed by the actual sight of the tall spare figure and the keen eager face which I had never
thought to see again.”
–Dr Watson, “The Empty House” 

Watson makes mention of a few other occurrences in the month of April, which I leave to our fellow members to post; however, I cannot but resist sharing  with my fellow Sherlockians, the most ominous of them all. I quote from:  The Man Who Was Sherlock Holmes – The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by John Dickson Carr.

“But he [Doyle] had another task before that. At Norwood on April 6th, 1893, sitting by the fire with a cold in his head, idly reading Pride and Prejudice, while legions of painters bumped the outside of the house, he put aside the book and wrote a letter to the Ma’am. “All is well down here; I am in the middle of the last Holmes story, after which the gentleman vanishes, never to return! I am weary of his name.” 

Kumar Bhatia, JHWS “Bobbi”


William Smith, Osteopath and thought-to-be model for John H Watson, MD.

Our ever-resourceful Charter Member from Dubai, Kumar Bhatia “Bobbie,” alerts us to breaking news out of the UK and Scotland:

By ANDREW ARGO, 6 February 2014 11.40am.

Dr Watson, companion of Sherlock Holmes in fiction’s most famous detective double act, was a doctor in the west end of Dundee.

The elementary and astonishing piece of evidence that Watson was based on osteopath William Smith has been discovered by city osteopath Tim Baker.

He also learned that the inspiration for the famous detective’s companion treated patients a few yards from his own surgery on Perth Road from 1910 to 1912.

Tim was attending the annual meeting of the Scottish Osteopathic Society in Aberdeen when a guest speaker related the story of William Smith — a story with some surprising twists.

Smith (1862-1912) was one of Britain’s first osteopaths. He opened a practice in Dundee in 1910 after years working in the United States but Tim knew little of his background.

Conference speaker Jason Haxton, curator of the American Museum of Osteopathy, brought various artefacts to illustrate his talk, including an article from an American newspaper written by Smith’s son Cuthbert in 1938.

In the Des Moines Sunday Register account headlined “Watson’s Son Reveals Real Sherlock Holmes,” Cuthbert Smith disclosed Holmes’ author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle modelled Dr Watson on his father, William Smith.

Doyle and William Smith were fellow medical students at Edinburgh University in the 1880s and it was their experience with Dr Joseph Bell that inspired Doyle to create Sherlock Holmes and his trusting companion.

Doyle was so impressed by Bell’s powers of deduction — an uncanny ability to diagnose patients before they would speak a word to him about their afflictions — that he used him as the inspiration for Holmes.

Dr John Watson, a Southsea doctor who served time in Manchuria and was an acquaintance of Doyle, was honoured with having Holmes’ partner named for him.

There is also evidence from A Study in Scarlet, Doyle’s first story to feature Sherlock Holmes, that Surgeon-Major Alexander Francis Preston may have been the model for Dr Watson, as their experiences from the Afghan war were similar

However, the revelation that Dr Watson was based on William Smith casts new light on the character.

Tim Baker attended the Scottish Osteopathic Society annual meeting and found a table with various curiosities brought over by Mr Haxton from the American museum.

“I glanced at the display but did not really pay heed to it,” Tim said.

“Jason Haxton had done some work on the history of osteopathy with reference to Scotland and two of the main players were William Smith and Martin Littlejohn, both Edinburgh-trained doctors who went to America and played a leading role in bringing osteopathy into the 20th Century.

“I started to pay a bit more attention as I knew that William Smith had a practice in Dundee in the early part of the century but I knew nothing else.

“Over coffee I asked Jason more questions and I realised that William Smith had been practising 50 yards from me 100 years ago.”

Tim then saw the speaker’s archive material, which contained the startling revelation in the article by Smith’s son that his father was Dr Watson.

In the Iowa state capital’s newspaper on January 16 1938, Cuthbert Smith recalled Doyle, who also became a doctor, fashioned Sherlock Holmes on Bell.

Cuthbert Smith said: “The detective’s companion Watson was my father William Smith.”

He explained how Doyle and his father marvelled at Bell’s talent presented in a daily parade of breathtaking deliberations.

One day, Doyle confided in William Smith that he was playing around with the idea of writings based on the faculties of Bell, who was approached and not only agreed but offered many helpful suggestions.

“The character of Watson was written around my father but it was merely a friendly gesture on Doyle’s part and not based on any personal merits connected with the remarkable character of the stories of Joseph,” wrote Cuthbert ?Smith.

Cuthbert Smith went on to describe when, as a pupil at Dollar and his father was in Dundee, he was taken by his father to meet Bell and Doyle in Edinburgh — a special occasion when Holmes and Watson were with their creator.

Kumar Bhatia, JHWS “Bobbie” from Dubai Sends a Very Interesting Question for Your Responses

Below is “Bobbie’s” question:

Watson tells us that he was “. . . standing at the Criterion bar” when he met Stamford, “. . . who had been a dresser under me at Bart’s.”

The Criterion was then, and is even today, an upscale establishment. How could Dr Watson afford the price of a pre-lunch drink (or perhaps even two) at the undoubtedly pricey Criterion given the state of his finances which, in his own words, was hardly sound: “So alarming did the state of my finances become, that I soon realized that I must either leave the metropolis and rusticate somewhere in the country, or that I must make a complete alteration in my style of living . . . .”

Did the long-shot mare he had bet on over the Christmas racing season come in a whopping twenty to one and permit Watson the luxury of a celebration at the Criterion?

Kumar provides us with a number of avenues for research: 1) the Christmas racing season and plausible long-shot horses; 2) the evidence for Stamford picking up the tab; 3)  the potential of Dr Watson having a tab at the Criterion; 4) or perhaps the simple explanation: he wished to do so without regard to his finances.

Please comment if you have an idea on this question you wish to share. And “Thank You” to Kumar Bhatia “Bobbie” for his always interesting and thoughtful contributions.

Kumar Bhatia, JHWS “Bobbie” Shares Another Fascinating Insight

Our well-travelled member, Kumar Bhatia, of Dubai and India has sent along this interesting report on the Russian statues of Dr Watson and Mr Holmes. Thank you very much, Kumar–as always–for these glimpses of the world as it honors our heroes.

In April 2007, a monument to Sherlock Holmes was unveiled outside the British Embassy in Moscow. It is the only one of its kind in the world, in that it has Holmes and Watson together. It features a pensive Holmes, clad in his signature cloak and deerstalker, standing and looking slightly upwards with one hand behind his back and holding a pipe in the other, as if contemplating a case. Beside Holmes is Dr Watson, seated on a bench and looking up towards Holmes in admiration, as it were. The statues are life-size and consumed 800 kilos of bronze in casting.

The artist, Andrei Orlov, although inspired by Sidney Paget’s sketches, sculpted Holmes in the likeness of the great Russian actor Vasily Livanov, who played the role of the Master to perfection in many Russian Movies. Orlov modelled Dr Watson after Vitaly Solomin who played Watson to Livanov’s Holmes. Vasily Livanov was the only Russian actor to be awarded the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II which was bestowed upon him in recognition of his great portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.

We are thankful to the Sherlock Holmes Society of India who first posted this article by Kumar Bhatia on its Society’s website.

Kumar Bhatia, JHWS “Bobbie” Sends This Holmes Song

Our member from Dubai, U.A.E, Kumar Bhatia, JHWS “Bobbie” has sent this interesting song and lyric of the original sheet music for “The Ghost of Sherlock Holmes.”  Our great thanks to Kumar for a rare glimpse into a rare collectible.


Don’t start and pray, don’t leave your seats, There’s no cause for alarm :

Though I’ve arrived from warmer spheres, I mean you all no harm.

I am a ghost, a real ghost too, that nightly, earth-wards roams;

In fact I am the sceptre of Detective Sherlock Holmes.

Chorus: Sherlock Holmes – Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock, Sherlock you can hear the people cry,

That’s the ghost of Sherlock Holmes  as I go creeping by .

Sinners shake and tremble, wherever this bogie roams,

And people shout  ‘He’s found us out ‘  It’s the ghost of Sherlock Holmes .

Chorus: Sherlock Holmes – Sherlock Holmes

The man who plots a murder, when he sees me lift my head,

Forgets to murder anyone and  ‘suicides’ instead.

An anarchist with lighted bomb, to cause explosive scenes,

Sees me and drops his bomb and blows himself to smithereens .

Chorus: Sherlock Holmes – Sherlock Holmes

The burglar who’s a-burgling, when he finds I am at large,

Get scared and says  ‘Policeman, will you please take me in charge?’

The Lady who’s shop-lifting tries to put her theivings back

And says,  ‘Mr Sherlock Holmes, I’m a kleptomaniac.’

Chorus: Sherlock Holmes – Sherlock Holmes

My life was more than misery, compelled to strut the earth,

And be a spy at beck and call of those who gave me birth.

But now that I’m a specter, all their misdeeds shall recoil,

I’m going to haunt ‘ Strand Magazine’ , ‘Tit-Bits’ and Conan Doyle .

Chorus: Sherlock Holmes – Sherlock Holmes

The song was written by one Richard Morton. (I am unable to ascertain the date). The music was composed, and the song sung by H.C. Barry.

The copyright as per the “Cover-Sheet ” is (or was) held by Francis Day and Hunter of Oxford Street, London, and The US copyright, by T.B.Harms and Co. of New York.

We regret that we are unable to upload the front cover photo of the sheet music that Kumar sent.

A Tribute to Jeremy Brett on the Anniversary of His Passing by Charter Member Kumar Bhatia, JHWS “Bobbie”

Our esteemed member from Dubai, Kumar Bhatia, JHWS “Bobbie” has written this kind and moving tribute to the great actor Jeremy Brett who portrayed Sherlock Holmes for many years in the Granada Film series.

A Great Actor, a Greater Human Being, And the Greatest Sherlock Holmes  There Will Ever Be: Jeremy Brett—Rest in PeaceBy Kumar Bhatia

Dear Friends and Fellow Sherlockians

Eighteen years ago, on this day, 12 September 1995, the Sherlockian world lost one of its most radiant jewels. Jeremy Brett, at the height of his career and only sixty-one years old, died of heart failure and other medical complications.

In a career that spanned forty years, Jeremy who trained in Shakespeare,  portrayed a formidable array of roles, from Hamlet to Freddie Eynsford-Hill. But his magnum opus was, of course, his brilliant portrayal of Sherlock  Holmes in the Granada TV series of 1984. I have restricted this tribute to his portrayal of Holmes in the Granada production.

When Granada first asked him, in February 1982, to play Sherlock Holmes, Jeremy was not very enthusiastic; “I really don’t want to do it. I think it has been done so many times – I can’t see any point in trying to do it anymore.” Fortunately for us Jeremy Brett re-read the entire Canon and revised his opinion: “I discovered all sorts of things I could do if I had the opportunity to do it! So I said ‘Yes!’”

And the rest is history. Jeremy went on to deliver thirty-six one hour episodes and five full-length movies in the Granada TV series that started in 1984 and spanned nearly ten years. Sadly, the last few episodes were made when he was rather ill, in spite of which, with his boundless energy and dedication to his craft, Jeremy gave his best.

Jeremy said he saw Holmes as “a man of isolation . . . a very private man.” So he strove in his performance to bring out the inner workings of the character. “Holmes is the hardest part I have ever played—harder than Hamlet or Macbeth,” he said.

There have been many fine actors who have tackled this difficult role. So what is it that has made Jeremy Brett’s rendition stand tall over every other actor who had played Holmes? Jeremy made up his mind that he would portray the character exactly as per Doyle. “So I had to go on an extraordinary journey of discovery, and it’s all there . . . in Doyle, and what is so extraordinary is that no one has done Doyle before.”

As an actor Jeremy was a becomer. In his own words “You ‘become’ the creature, the person you are playing. I’m a romantic-hero actor, so I had to hide an awful lot of me, and in doing so, I look quite often brusque, even slightly rude.”

During the course of the production Jeremy constantly referred to the ‘Canon,’ the original stories as written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which he believed “. . . should be the touch stone for every actor playing Holmes.” He even carried to the set of the films his own seventy-seven page “Baker Street File” detailing everything about Holmes, from the mannerisms down to his eating and drinking habits. When he gave us Holmes, Jeremy was not playing to the gallery with the cliché deer-stalker and magnifying glass; He gave us the complete Holmes, the gestures, dress, nuances of body language, bouts of melancholy (“The Devils Foot”), bursts of energy (the leap over the couch in “The Red Headed League”), tapping the pipe in impatience, that smirk of arrogance, the amused snigger (“The Musgrave Ritual”): just playing You-Know-Who to perfection! (That’s how Jeremy referred to Sherlock Holmes—“You-Know-Who”). Sheer poetry! Just watch every frame closely.

He even captured with incredible accuracy the sketches of Sidney Paget. To mention a few: watch him holding a rose (“The Naval Treaty”); as the Clergyman (from “A Scandal in Bohemia”); seated, surrounded by pillows and smoking a pipe (“The Man with the Twisted Lip”); the fist fight (“The Solitary Cyclist”); even his ‘casual’ hairstyle in the later episodes has a precedent in Paget’s sketches (“The Red Headed League”): Pure Paget as only Jeremy could.

For a boy who had a speech impediment (he was born with “rhotacism” and could not pronounce his R’s properly, a defect corrected when he was a teenager by surgery), Jeremy’s diction was superb. He did a great job of “You are the stormy petrel of crime – Watson,” with 4 R’s in it (from the “Naval Treaty”).

Nearly thirty years after the first episode, “A Scandal in Bohemia,” telecast on 24 April 1984, the accolades show no signs of fatigue:

“I have had nothing but praise. I have received twelve plaques from twelve societies for being the best Holmes ever.”

“I have this lovely blessing over my head: Dame Jean Conan Doyle says I am the Sherlock Holmes of her childhood.”

“Jeremy Brett, the man who mastered the Master!”

“Jeremy Brett’s Holmes is fundamentally faithful to Doyle’s original. The magnetism of his bravura performance attracts a new generation of admirers to the stories. In the years to come it will be his face they see when they read the books, and it will be his voice they hear when the great detective speaks. A part of the monument that is the legend of Sherlock Holmes now has Brett’s name indelibly carved on  it.”

Khumar Bhatia, JHWS “Bobbie” resides in Dubai, UAE and is a member of The Sherlock Holmes Society of India, his native country. He is a successful industrialist and a life-long devotee of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson.

International Friendship Day: An Article by JHWS Member Kumar Bhatia of Dubai

Our esteemed member, Kumar Bhatia of Dubai, UAE and India, a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of India, has written a poignant view of the friendship between Dr Watson and Mr Holmes. It is particularly appropriate as this is the time of year the United Nations designates as “International Friendship Day.”

We thank Mr Bhatia for his contribution and look forward to its appearance in The Watsonian.

Please click on the link below for Mr. Bhatia’s article in a PDF form (saved in Word 93-2000 so all can access).

rtf.pngDownload file:

Our First Member from India, living in Dubai, UAE

The Society warmly welcomes Mr. Kumar Bhatia to Charter Membership. Kumar lives in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He writes:

“I am from Bombay, India , but live and work in Dubai U.A.E. I am a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of India and have been a fan of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson since the age of 13, when my very own Stamford, my late uncle, introduced me to the Canon, with a birthday present of the ” Memoirs.”

We look forward to Mr Bhatia’s contributions to the Society, the journal and to the international views of the world’s Watsonians.

Please join in welcoming him and extending the Society’s traditional welcome:

You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive,” and perhaps literally in Kumar’s experience.