Ah! I caved and purchased Polly Guo’sHoudini & Holmes! I love it and I’m so glad it was still available (the print versions sold out years ago, shame!)
This has got to be my favourite page. Sir Arthur’s face makes me laugh and the ‘thumb trick’ incident (that pretty much everyone knows how to do nowadays), really happened.
‘Houdini must have been astonished when Conan Doyle wrote to him claiming to have photographs of fairies.
“I have something (far more) precious: two photos, one of a goblin,
the other of four fairies in a Yorkshire wood. A fake! You will say. No,
sir, I think not… the fairies are about eight inches high. In one
there is a single goblin dancing. In the other four beautiful, luminous
creatures. Yes, it is a revelation.”
Conan Doyle also began to believe Houdini possessed magical powers.
Once Houdini showed him the child’s trick of apparently removing the first joint of the thumb.
Conan Doyle’s reaction was remarkable. He wrote: “Just a line to say how much we enjoyed our short visit yesterday.
“I think what interested me most was the ‘trick’ you showed us in the
cab. You certainly have the most wonderful powers, whether inborn or
acquired.” (The Sunday Express, Sept 2011)
If you want to read the whole thing, you can find it for digital download here!
Given his physical description (that every modern adaptation opts to ignore… wonder why…), the name similarity to English literature’s most famous European Jew, and the real life influence of Harry Houdini, I would really love an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes that embraced the idea the Holmes family are closet Jews.
The funny thing about Arthur Conan Doyle and him (famously) falling for that stuff with the two little girls and their obvious hoax cardboard cut-out fairies. Sherlock Holmes would have seen through that shit in a minute. Of course he would have.
When you write a fictional character that’s actually smarter than yourself.