Wednesday, 8 October 2014

A Book Fit For a Queen

This month sees the publication of one of Conan Doyle's lesser known Holmes stories, namely 'How Watson Learned the Trick'. The story has of course found its way into print previously (albeit rarely), but this is the very first time it has been released in its original format: a book measuring as little as 38.5mm by 30mm.
The short piece (a shade over 500 words) was written specifically for its inclusion in Queen Mary's Dolls House.

Queen Mary's Dolls House, is as the name suggests, a dolls
Master craftsmen hard at work
house that was built for (yes, you've guessed it) Queen Mary. However, the doll's house is nothing like one you would find in your local toy shop.

Built over a three year period, and completed in 1924, it stands at a staggering five feet tall and over eight feet wide. With a scale of 1:12 (one inch representing one foot), the House and its contents definitely brings the term 'grandiose' to a whole new level.

The doll's house is now owned by Queen Mary's granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II and it is on permanent display at Windsor Castle. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyen, a greatly respected British architect in his day. Today he is probably best remember for his design for The Cenotaph, which sits in Whitehall, London. Over a thousand people were involved in aspects of the build in some way or another (be they craftsmen, artists or writers) and the end result of their toils was a fully functioning four-storey Palladian Villa, with
forty rooms, complete with electricity, two working lifts,
Queen Mary (1867-1953)
running water (including flushable toilets), a garage with space for
five working cars, including  a 1923 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost (donated
by Rolls-Royce) and a wine cellar armed with 200 bottles of Chateau
Lafitte 1875 and five dozen bottles of Veueve Cliquot (not to mention a strongroom which held miniature replicas of the Crown Jewels).
However, as impressive as this all is, it is of course the library that
attracts the Sherlockian in me.

The greatest authors of the day were asked to asked to contribute to the project and those that obliged included Conan Doyle, M.R. James,
Thomas Hardy, A.A. Milne, Rudyard Kipling,
W. Somerset Maugham and J.M. Barrie (George Bernard Shaw famously rebuffed the invitation).

If you haven't read the story before, it is well worth a view (although you might have to borrow Holmes' magnifying glass to read this version). 

'How Watson Learned the Trick' is published by Walker Books and can be purchased via their website or on Amazon.

Every library should have a Sherlock Holmes book (even a tiny one)

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