Important day today, Universe! According to Christopher Morley (pioneer American Sherlockian), today – the 6th of January is Holmes’s birthday!🎈 So what’s really the deal with this date? Is it legit?
Firstly, lets talk about the year Holmes was born – 1854. In the story “His Last Bow” that is set in August, 1914 Holmes is described as it follows:
“He was a tall, gaunt man of sixty, with clear-cut features and a small goatee beard which gave him a general resemblance to the caricatures of Uncle Sam.”
So, obviously, if in 1914 Sherlock Holmes was sixty years old the simple mathematical logic leads us to the conclusion that he must have been born 60 years earlier in 1854 – so that’s that. Yay!
For the date itself things don’t seem that clear and certain but the theories are super fun and cool so lets take a brief look at them, shall we?
Christopher Morley (5 May 1890 – 28 March 1957) was an American journalist, novelist, essayist and poet. He was also one of the founders of the Baker Street Irregulars which is one of the largest and oldest Sherlock Holmes societies in the world that organizes gatherings (the first held in 1934). These meetings are by all means a guaranteed good time for the true Holmes fanatic – featuring special breakfasts, a full-dress banquet, cocktail parties, an endowed lecture and a theatrical performance, all in the course of several days. The Baker Street Irregulars got their name from a ragtag group of street urchins that Mr. Holmes occasionally hires in the books and some of the most distinguished members of the society include Isaac Asimov, Harry S. Truman and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Until the early 1990s, the organization was open to men only and in response to that injustice women formed the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes.
Anyway, the true question is why Christopher Morley chose the date January 6. Here’s what he wrote in a US magazine called Saturday Review of Literature published on January 6, 1933:
“I have not looked up the date, but if, as an astrologer has suggested, Sherlock Holmes was most likely born in January, some observance is due.
Therefore, if the matter has never been settled, I nominate January 6th (the date of this issue of the Saturday Review) as his birthday…”
So apparently an astrologer suggested that Holmes gives the impression of one true Capricorn. *shout out to all the Capricorns out there* It is believed that people, born under the sign of the Capricorn are ambitious, calm and composed in all situations, don’t count too much on emotions and prefer cold logic. Here’s a list of the best versus the worst Capricorn traits and characteristics:
Best: sensible, serious, practical, realistic, intense, loyal, responsible, down to earth, cautious, patient, self disciplined, dependable, ambitious, self motivated, forceful, determined, self-sufficient.
Worst: stubborn, uncreative / unimaginative, materialistic, self indulging, possessive (jealous), tendency to procrastinate, inhibited, conceited, distrusting, demanding, inconsiderate, controlling, bossy, introvert, pessimistic (tend to dwell on the past).
Capricorn people tend to like: planning things in advance, stability, security, routines,organization.
Capricorn people tend to dislike: unnecessary risks, chaos or unpredictability.
You tell me – do you see Holmes in some of the aforenamed traits? There are definitely some that are spot on. Does that tell us something?
Another more logical explanation Christopher Morley offered, regarding the birth date of Sherlock Holmes, states that Sherlock Holmes quotes only one literary work twice: Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night – so January 6th is in fact the twelfth night after Christmas and from there it follows that this could be his birthday date (according to Christians). This however does not seem very plausible but it was the accepted explanation till 1957.
In 1957 another member of the Baker Street Irregulars – Nathan Bengis – suggested another theory in support of the date January 6th – he wrote in an article in the Baker Street Journal that in the beginning of the novel ” The Valley of Fear” Holmes appears a bit moody and out of sorts which inclined Bengis to think that Holmes’ weird state was the result of a post-birthday hangover on that day and that day is mentioned as January 7th so the 221B duo must have partied hard the night before.😂
Here’s an excerpt from that part of the novel:
“I am inclined to think—” said I (Watson).
“I should do so,” Sherlock Holmes remarked impatiently.
“Really, Holmes,” said I severely, “you are a little trying at times.”
And here’s what Bengis wrote:
“Surely it is clear that there had been some small jollification the night before in celebration of the Master’s (Sherlock Holmes’) birthday, and that his lack of appetite was the result of a hangover?”
Later on, in 1962, William Baring-Gould, the famous writer of the book – “Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street” repeated the Twelfth Night and hangover explanations which made it all even more solid in the mind of the public.
That’s it really…sorry if you’re disappointed but at least we have an actual date on which we can celebrate Sherlock’s birthday in our mind palaces (and not only) and lets not delude ourselves – we need an honorary Sherlock birthday party. In fact when it comes to celebrations on this date things get pretty serious – the grandest celebration of Sherlock Holmes’ birthday has been happening almost every year in New York since 1934 and is called the BSI weekend (BSI as in the Baker Street Irregulars). You can check out their official site here: BSIweekend.
Londoners, of course, have been celebrating Sherlock’s birthday in style, too since 1952 – the celebratory dinner is held on Saturday night + they also do a Sunday morning get-together where Sherlockians interact a bit more informally. The dinner is very ceremonial – there’s the Toney Howlett award that’s given to a *cool* Sherlockian, there’s a star guest speaker and there’s a sumptuous meal at The House of Commons (the lower house of the UK Parliament) – yes, you read that right. Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat (the creators of BBC Sherlock), Agatha Christie, Anthony Horowitz and many others have given lectures during the SHSL weekend. Here’s the official site: sherlock-holmes.org.uk
Of course the US and the UK are not the only places that celebrate Holmes’s birthday – there are more than 250 active Sherlock Holmes societies throughout the whole world that hold celebrations in all kinds of ways.
You can find a lot of interesting things on www.sherlockholmes-fan.com which has been the main source for this blog post.
So, to conclude this let me just say HAPPY BIRTHDAY Mr. Smarty Pants, we love you!!! ^_^
P.S. Also, my best friend in the whole wide world, my sister from another mister, my one true pirate-soulmate-matey – Joanna (my Jawn😂💕) shares the same birth date as Sherlock Holmes so HAPPY BIRTHDAY, matey, I LOVE YOU SO SO MUCH!!! And remember:
– Snowanna of 221B