Friday, January 13, 2006

The Many Voices of Sherlock Holmes

I discovered this week the wonderful cassette sets of Sherlock Holmes stories recorded by Edward Hardwick during the 1990s, as well as the more recent DVD sets read by David Timson. Inspired, I probed the Internet for other Holmes audio recordings. Two key—and free—resources are available for downloading period productions. Many of you have discovered one or both of them already, no doubt, but for other Holmes aficionados among you, here are the links.

First, revisit Project Gutenberg (, if you haven’t been there in awhile. Numerous audio books, both computer-generated and human-read, are available for downloading. I’ve begun listening to the stories in His Last Bow—read, I believe, by John Telfer and made available through Gutenberg from They are fine narrations. I’m awed that today we can obtain, for free, literary works in audio form of a quality that warranted a healthy retail price 20 years ago, when I began assembling my Holmes audio library. (Ample reason to make a donation to Gutenberg.)

As I write this, I’m listening to “New Year’s Eve Off the Coast of the Scilly Isles,” one of the hundreds of Holmes radio productions from the 1940s. This one, starring John Stanley as Holmes and Alfred Shirley as Watson, I downloaded from the magnificent period radio list of The Sherlock Holmes Society of London ( I never knew this recording existed; ibid for scores of other radio program downloads at the site. I’m familiar with Holmes portrayals by Basil Rathbone and Sir John Gielgud, but never imagined the assortment of other actors who’ve taken up his pipe and cap. If you’re a Holmes buff, the London site should be a required visit.


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