Saturday, June 9, 2012

Excuse Me Whilst I Fangirl

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So, I found the coolest place ever at the University of Minnesota yesterday. It's the Sherlock Holmes Collections in the Elmer L. Andersen Library.

AND IT IS AMAZING.

Okay, so most of it is underground and can be accessed through request but there was some great stuff that happened to be pulled out when I was in there. A book full of the teleplays read aloud by Basil Rathbone, complete with corrections to the script written in pencil throughout. An original copy of the magazine "A Scandal in Bohemia" was published in. AN ORIGINAL COPY OF A STUDY IN SCARLET FROM 1888 (not in Beeton's Christmas Annual but in novel-form) WHICH I HELD IN MY OWN HANDS (and then felt like I should be wearing gloves and turning pages with tweezers -like instruments as Tom Hanks did in the Vatican Library in Angels and Demons). A doll's house model of what 221B Baker Street is thought to look like. Modern novels written expanding the realms of Sherlock Holmes into cases such as Jack the Ripper, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and The Phantom of Opera (which given my added love for this story/musical, my little fangirl heart was doing mad races in my chest).

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Needless to say, this made me very, very happy. As I am doing a directed study next fall on fandoms, specifically on the fandom of Sherlock and Sherlock Holmes, I could have no better asset on my campus. Besides, I'd been meaning to check it out ever since I learned it was here, back before I started college when I heard about it through a promotion on the news for a play about Sherlock Holmes done by the U's theater department on a river boat (Yes, theater on a riverboat; welcome to Minnesota - we actually are that awesome. For some reason, putting Sherlock Holmes on a riverboat works perfectly for me. When I think of riverboats, I think of Hannibal, Missouri, Mark Twain's hometown - where I first saw them. And I already have an association between Mark Twain and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in my mind - and I have no idea why.)

http://highway55.library.yale.edu/
As the brochure describes, the collection consists of "the world's larges gathering of material related to Sherlock Holmes and his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The collections consist over 15,000 items including books, journals, and a wide variety of other items." The collection formed out of the acquisition of several large collections began by a variety of Sherlockians, including a Nobel Prize winning Mayo physician. Somehow, the most material on this celebrated detective is collected in the lovely city of Minneapolis, rather than the also very lovely but more likely (and a bit far away from me) city of London.

And yet, there's something about having a collection like that here that makes sense. I think that Minneapolis and London are secretly BFFs and no one knows it. They have a lot of similarities for two cities so far apart and have a really large age difference (London being founded in 43 AD and Minneapolis in 1867). They're at similar latitudes, they're both situated on world-famous rivers, both get some interesting weather (the upside, I think, is that it seems to rain sideways a lot less in London than it does in Minneapolis. And blizzards, blizzards a heck of a lot less common in London). Culture-wise, they both have strong science fiction communities, writing communities in general, diverse music scenes, influence from industrial/mill work, and a huge body of hospital/health work (seriously, there are so many hospitals in Minneapolis, it blows my mind. And every other person at the U is a med student). And there are a surprising amount of Anglophiles in Minneapolis. I mean, one of the most popular pubs on Nicollet Mall (it's a pedestrian mall downtown and one of the coolest parts of the city) is called the Brit.


Now I really want Scotch eggs (they have really fantastic Scotch eggs. And Strongbow on tap. And fantastic food all around).

So having a Sherlock Holmes collection in the City of Lakes? Weirdly makes sense. Which means, if you happen to be in Minneapolis and have some spare time (and don't mind braving the disaster which is summer road construction on a university campus) you should totally check out the collection. Because I get the feeling no one knows it's there... and it's honestly one of the best keep secrets at my school. Better kept than the fact that Moos Tower looks like a giant tooth (so I've been told).
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I'm thinking I should get a bunch of these signs and put them around campus. Just to mess with people. (I'll be like the Gallfreyian-Human Alliance, a Doctor Who-focused group that enjoys writing "Bad Wolf" in sidewalk chalk and posting random flyers like this on bulletin boards:

Yeah, I like these guys).

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