Last month saw the publication of LJMU English’s Jonathan Cranfield’s latest book, Arthur Conan Doyle and the Strand Magazine, 1891-1930, as part of the Edinburgh Critical Studies in Victorian Culture series with Edinburgh University Press. Professor Douglas Kerr of the University of Hong Kong notes how the ‘partnership between Arthur Conan Doyle and The Strand Magazine developed into one of the most successful collaborations in publishing history. In telling its story, Jonathan Cranfield’s fascinating book shows the vital part it played in the formation of a modern readership and culture’.
The book is about reimagining Arthur Conan Doyle as an active participant in the twentieth century. Jon said, ‘We have developed a habit of imagining that all the “Victorian” writers ceased doing anything of importance after Queen Victoria died. Fortunately she was not like the big spaceship in Independence Day and all the other “Victorians” did not spontaneously combust upon her departure’. The book charts the ways in which Conan Doyle and other lesser-known writers in The Strand Magazine helped older generations of readers to understand the turmoil of the early twentieth century. LJMU’s library holds a complete set of The Strand, and Jon regularly makes use of it in his teaching, encouraging LJMU English students to develop their research skills through the interpretation of primary materials. As Holmes himself put it, ‘There is nothing like first-hand evidence’.
Jon is also co-editor (with Tom Ue) of Fan Phenomena: Sherlock Holmes Essays (2014) which explores the numerous adaptations, rewritings, rip-offs, role-playing, wiki and crowdsourced texts, virtual realities, and faux scholarship Sherlock Holmes has inspired since his creation. The Guardian called it a ‘fascinating volume, which nicely combines contributions by scholars and creators’.