When the occasional reminder comes up that one's name appears on a list of ancients in the Sherlockian world, questions arise. How many of the other folks on the list yet live? If it's a scant few, one starts to worry about one's own mortality. If it's a healthy number, one can breathe a sigh of relief and figure one has a few good days left. So it was when the topic of "the Shaw 100" came into my head again this week.
The Shaw 100 is actually more than a hundred, as it is his list of a "Basic Holmes Library" of a hundred books that was re-compiled multiple times. Some books were added, and some left the list. Each of those books has authors or editors, and while a book may be nigh immortal, sadly, their human creators are not. And when one gets in one's head to start checking on the health of all the names in that list, it can get a bit grim.
But here's the happy side of the list, as far as I could tell from a quick internet search:
Owen Dudley Edwards
Robert W. Pohle, Jr.
Douglas C. Hart
William D. Goodrich
Julia Carlson Rosenblatt
Frederic H. Sonnenschmidt
Carol-Lynn Rössel Waugh
Martin H. Greenberg
All of the above were involved with a book in John Bannett Shaw's basic Sherlock Holmes library. And as far as I can tell, they're still around. Google, however, will give you some trouble with certain Sherlockian writers. "Orlando Park," for example, gives you Disney World and you start thinking "pseudonym," even though such might not be the case. Michael Pointer is apparently a Marvel Comics superhero. Others just seem to have namesakes all over the place.
The point of all this research is simple: We need a new heir to the Shaw 100. Many of the items on that list don't hold the weight they used to. Many have had modern equivalents or betterings. And they don't account for the massive wave of Sherlockiana that's come in in the past decade.
But no single Sherlockian is qualified to create such a thing any more. John Bennett Shaw was in a special position in the 1980s, one that no other Sherlockian has attained since . . . or possibly even could at this point. It would definitely take a team at this point. Maybe a team concocted by an objective central authority, like the folks in Minneapolis. No simple poll could create such a list -- whoever produced it would have to argue for every single item on it. (This is the age of argument, isn't it?) Cases would have to be made.
But the results would certainly be worthwhile, and useful to newer Sherlockians more than collectors.