Friday, July 2, 2010

Rivals of Sherlock Holmes

I've been spending some time with a 1978 compendium on Castle Books called Rivals of Sherlock Holmes. Forty detective stories with the original illustrations were selected by Alan K. Russell from English Illustrated magazines of the Victorian Age.
The book is a goldmine of ideas and inspiration for Manny Tippitoes both visually and textually. I am especially taken by the narrator called The Man In The Corner used in "The Mysteries of Great Cities" by the Baroness E. Orczy and the super-villainess Madame Sara in three stories by L.T. Meade and Robert Eustace. There are stories by Arthur Conan Doyle and H.G. Wells in the collection, but for me the appeal of this book lies with the also-rans and never-weres. The attempts to vary the detective personna exemplified by Sherlock Holmes are intriguing. The African Millionaire and Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective never caught on, much less The Man in the Corner (pictured). The illustrators are uncredited in the book and more's the pity. I'd love to see more from the person who illustrated The Sorceress of the Strand series. Many thanks are due to Annie for picking this out at the thrift store for me.

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