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for Libraries, Schools, Mystery Clubs and Study Groups
celebrating Doyle's birth May 22, death July 7, Halloween, etc.

David Houston
In a One-Man 70-minute Dramatized
Reading in the Style of Radio Drama, Of
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s

Study in Scarlet

 the delightful, mysterious and frightening
story that introduced Holmes and Watson in 1887,
took the English-speaking world by storm,
and became the “gold standard”
for modern detective fiction

 

Illustrations by Sidney Paget from original Strand Magazine publications of Holmes stories.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, June 1929:
"It is all very well to sneer at the paper detective,
but a principle is a principle, whether in fiction or in
fact. Many of the great lessons of life are to be
learned in the pages of the novelist."

 

Sherlock Holmes:
“There's the scarlet thread of murder running through the
colorless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it,
and expose every inch of it.”

 
Study in Scarlet, 1887

SCROLL DOWN OR JUMP WITH THESE LINKS:

Contact Information
Schedule of Performances
 
Biography of David Houston 
 
Sherlock Holmes Stories: Complete List
Doyle
's Prefaces
 
Arthur Conan Doyle Lifeline
References and Reviews

Contact Information

David Houston
(516) 293-2638; DH@davidhouston.net

$275 package includes actor, reading stand, music and effects CD and player, and travel
(Long Island and Queens; for fees for other locales, contact David Houston)
;
facility is asked to supply a small acting space, basic lighting and amplification if the space is large
 

Scheduled Performances

Bay Shore Brightwaters Public Library, Wednesday, August 6, 2014, 7:00 p.m.
Planting Fields Arboretum, Coe Hall, Sunday, October 19, 2008, 4:00 p.m.,
Jericho Public Library, Friday, October 31, 2008, 2:00 p.m.,
Saturday, October 21, 2006, 7:00 p.m., The Montauk Library
Deer Park Public Library, Sunday, January 9, 2005, 2:00 p.m.

Port Washington Public Library, Friday May 13, 2005, 12:15 p.m.
Rogers Memorial Library South Hampton, Monday October 31, 2005, 12:00 noon
Friday, December 23, 2005, 1:00 p.m., Long Island Alzheimer's Foundation, Port Washington
Garden City Public Library, Thursday October 14, 2004, 2:30 p.m.
Mineola Memorial Library, Monday October 25, 2004, 7:00 p.m.
East Meadow Public Library, Tuesday October 26, 2004, 12:30 p.m.
Port Jefferson Free Library, Thursday October 28, 2004, 7:30 p.m.
Jericho Public Library, Friday October 29, 2004, 2:00 p.m.
John Jermain Memorial Library, Sag Harbor, Saturday October 30, 2004, 7:00 p.m.
 

Bio (Suggested Program Notes)

DAVID HOUSTON is a published and produced writer.  His Joan Crawford biography Jazz Baby, was optioned for movie production, as was his mystery novel Shadows on the Moon.  As an actor, he has appeared in featured and leading roles in scores of plays and musicals, including Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Senex in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Ben in Death of a Salesman, Herr Shultz in Cabaret and Horace Giddens in The Little Foxes.  In addition to directing productions of his own plays, including Let’s Do It! (Noel Coward and Cole Porter), The Last Dance (Fred and Adele Astaire), The Dickens!, Great Scott and Zelda (The Fitzgeralds), and Mark Twain Telling Tales—he recently directed The Belle of Amherst and The Odd Couple Female Version, Sylvia, and Social Security for theaters libraries and schools.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes appeared in 60 stories published between 1887 and 1927

  • Study in Scarlet (novel, 1887)

  • The Sign of the Four (novel, 1890)

  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

    • A Scandal in Bohemia, 1891

    • The Red-headed League, 1891

    • A Case of Identity, 1891

    • The Boscombe Valley Mystery, 1891

    • The Five Orange Pips, 1891

    • The Man with the Twisted Lip, 1891

    • The Blue Carbuncle, 1892

    • The Speckled Band, 1892

    • The Engineer's Thumb, 1892

    • The Noble Bachelor, 1892

    • The Beryl Coronet, 1892

    • The Copper Beeches, 1892

    The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

    • Silver Blaze, 1892
    • The Yellow Face, 1893
    • The Stock-broker's Clerk, 1893
    • The 'Gloria Scott', 1893
    • The Musgrave Ritual, 1893
    • The Reigate Squires, 1893
    • The Crooked Man, 1893
    • The Resident Patient, 1893
    • The Greek Interpreter, 1893
    • The Naval Treaty, 1893
    • The Final Problem, 1893
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (novel, 1901-02)

  • The Return of Sherlock Holmes

    • The Empty House, 1903
    • The Norwood Builder, 1903
    • The Dancing Men, 1903
    • The Solitary Cyclist, 1903
  •  
    • The Priory School, 1904
    • Black Peter, 1904
    • Charles Augustus Milverton, 1904
    • The Six Napoleons, 1904
    • The Three Students, 1904
    • The Golden Pince-Nez, 1904
    • The Missing Three-Quarter, 1904
    • The Abbey Grange, 1904
    • The Second Stain, 1904
  • The Valley of Fear (novel, 1914-15)

  • His Last Bow

    • Wisteria Lodge, 1908
    • The Cardboard Box, 1893
    • The Red Circle, 1911
    • The Bruce-Partington Plans, 1908
    • The Dying Detective, 1913
    • Lady Frances Carfax, 1911
    • The Devil's Foot, 1910
    • His Last Bow, 1917
  • The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

    • The Illustrious Client, 1924
    • The Blanched Soldier, 1926
    • The Mazarin Stone, 1921
    • The Three Gables, 1926
    • The Sussex Vampire, 1924
    • The Three Garridebs, 1924
    • Thor Bridge, 1922
    • The Creeping Man, 1923
    • The Lion's Mane, 1926
    • The Veiled Lodger, 1927
    • Shoscombe Old Place, 1927
    • The Retired Colourman, 1926

 

 Prefaces by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

His Last Bow, 1917

The friends of Mr. Sherlock Holmes will be glad to learn that he is still alive and well, though somewhat crippled by occasional attacks of rheumatism. He has, for many years, lived in a small farm upon the downs five miles from Eastbourne, where his time is divided between philosophy and agriculture. During this period of rest he has refused the most princely offers to take up various cases, having determined that his retirement was a permanent one. The approach of the German war caused him, however, to lay his remarkable combination of intellectual and practical activity at the disposal of the government, with historical results which are recounted in His Last Bow. Several previous experiences which have lain long in my portfolio have been added to His Last Bow so as to complete the volume.

—JOHN H. WATSON, M.D.

The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, 1927

I fear that Mr. Sherlock Holmes may become like one of those popular tenors who, having outlived their time, are still tempted to make repeated farewell bows to their indulgent audiences. This must cease and he must go the way of all flesh, material or imaginary. One likes to think that there is some fantastic limbo for the children of imagination, some strange, impossible place where the beaux of Fielding may still make love to the belles of Richardson, where Scott’s heroes still may strut, Dickens’s delightful Cockneys still raise a laugh, and Thackeray’s worldlings continue to carry on their reprehensible careers. Perhaps in some humble corner of such a Valhalla, Sherlock and his Watson may for a time find a place, while some more astute sleuth with some even less astute comrade may fill the stage which they have vacated.

His career has been a long one–though it is possible to exaggerate it; decrepit gentlemen who approach me and declare that his adventures formed the reading of their boyhood do not meet the response from me which they seem to expect. One is not anxious to have one’s personal dates handled so unkindly. As a matter of cold fact, Holmes made his debut in A Study in Scarlet and in The Sign of Four, two small booklets which appeared between 1887 and 1889. It was in 1891 that ‘A Scandal in Bohemia,’ the first of the long series of short stories, appeared in The Strand Magazine. The public seemed appreciative and desirous of more, so that from that date, thirty-nine years ago, they have been produced in a broken series which now contains no fewer than fifty-six stories, republished in The Adventures, The Memoirs, The Return, and His Last Bow, and there remain these twelve published during the last few years which are here produced under the title of The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes. He began his adventures in the very heart of the later Victorian era, carried it through the all-too-short reign of Edward, and has managed to hold his own little niche even in these feverish days. Thus it would be true to say that those who first read of him, as young men, have lived to see their own grown-up children following the same adventures in the same magazine. It is a striking example of the patience and loyalty of the British public.

I had fully determined at the conclusion of The Memoirs to bring Holmes to an end, as I felt that my literary energies should not be directed too much into one channel. That pale, clear-cut face and loose-limbed figure were taking up an undue share of my imagination. I did the deed, but fortunately no coroner had pronounced upon the remains, and so, after a long interval, it was not difficult for me to respond to the flattering demand and to explain my rash act away. I have never regretted it, for I have not in actual practice found that these lighter sketches have prevented me from exploring and finding my limitations in such varied branches of literature as history, poetry, historical novels, psychic research, and the drama. Had Holmes never existed I could not have done more, though he may perhaps have stood a little in the way of the recognition of my more serious literary work.

And so, reader, farewell to Sherlock Holmes! I thank you for your past constancy, and can but hope that some return has been made in the shape of that distraction from the worries of life and stimulating change of thought which can only be found in the fairy kingdom of romance.

—ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE

The Long Stories, 1929

The following stories paint Mr. Sherlock Holmes and his activities upon a somewhat broader canvas where there is room for expansion. This expansion must express itself in action, for there is no room for character development in the conception of a detective. Whatever you add to the one central quality of astuteness must in my opinion detract from the general effect. Other writers may however succeed where I fail.

The "Study in Scarlet" was the first completed long story which I ever wrote, though I had served an apprenticeship of nearly ten years of short stories, most of which were anonymous. It represented a reaction against the too facile way in which the detective of the old school, so far as he was depicted in literature, gained his results. Having endured a severe course of training in medical diagnosis, I felt that if the same austere methods of observation and reasoning were applied to the problems of crime some more scientific system could be constructed. On the whole, taking the series of books, my view has been justified, as I understand that in several countries some change has been made in police procedure on account of these stories. It is all very well to sneer at the paper detective, but a principle is a principle, whether in fiction or in fact. Many of the great lessons of life are to be learned in the pages of the novelist.

There was no American copyright in 1887 when the "Study in Scarlet" was written, so that the book had a circulation in the United States, and attracted some attention. As a consequence Mr. Lippincott sent an ambassador over to treat for a successor. He had commissions for several British authors, and invited Oscar Wilde and myself to dinner to discuss the matter. The result was "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and "The Sign of Four."

Then came " The Hound of the Baskervilles." It arose from a remark by that fine fellow, whose premature death was a loss to the world, Fletcher Robinson, that there was a spectral dog near his home on Dartmoor. That remark was the inception of the book, but I should add that the plot and every word of the actual narrative was my own.

Finally, there is "The Valley of Fear," which had its origin through my reading a graphic account of the Molly McQuire outrages in the coalfields of Pennsylvania, when a young detective drawn from Pinkerton's Agency acted exactly as the hero is represented as doing. Holmes plays a subsidiary part in this story.

I trust that the younger public may find these romances of interest, and that here and there one of the older generation may recapture an ancient thrill.

—ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE

 Lifeline: Arthur Conan Doyle

Arthur Conan Doyle was born May 22, 1859, in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Obtained Medical Degree from University of Edinburgh, where he studied under Joseph Bell, who is now considered the father of modern forensic medicine — later used by Doyle as inspiration for the character of Sherlock Holmes.

Doyle served as doctor on an Arctic whaler, practiced briefly as a doctor..

First short story "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement" published 1879 (not about Sherlock Holmes).

First Holmes story, the novel Study in Scarlet, appeared in Beeton's Christmas Annual, 1887.

In addition to the Sherlock Holmes stories, Doyle was author of books on many subjects including The White Company, an historical novel, The Poison Belt and other science fiction stories featuring Professor Challenger, domestic comedy, seafaring adventure, poetry, and military history. He wrote the comic play Jane Annie jointly with James Barrie, creator of Peter Pan.

In 1893, Doyle "killed" Sherlock Holmes by reporting his apparent death in "The Final Problem," the last story in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

While Doyle hoped to devote time and attention to his "more serious" writings. Sherlock Holmes was briefly brought back in The Hound of the Baskervilles, 1901, then revived again in "The Empty House," 1903, and subsequent tales.

Knighted Sir Arthur in 1902 for his work in Boer War propaganda and, some said, because of the publication of The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Crusader for social reforms. Of special interest: criminal justice (he took a personal role in the George Edalji and Oscar Slater cases), military strategy (though he never served in the armed forces), public health, sports (cricket, boxing, Olympics), divorce law reform, Belgian exploitation of the Congo, the Piltdown Man hoax.

An advocate of "spiritism" and the supernatural, he wrote 10 books on the subject late in his life. 

He died July 7, 1930.

References and Reviews

Readings in the Style of Radio Drama
adapted by David Houston

STUDY IN SCARLET

Gina Tulin, Education Director, Planting Fields Arboretum: "Not one audience member moved from their seats during the entire performance; they were thoroughly engaged and refused to miss a thing. Thank you for such a great job, as always."  Monica Brennan, Program Chairman, Montauk Library: "Very good.  We will be in touch for future programs."  Penelope Wright, Director of Adult Programs, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton: "Today's very wonderful Halloween entertainment was even better than I had hoped.  We were all riveted!"  Carol Byrne, Program Director, Deer Park Public Library: "Excellent. Patrons loved it." Phyllis Cox, Program Coordinator, Jericho Public Library: "The audience was very impressed with the overall presentation and change of voices.  I heard comments about how wonderful the 'radio style' was." Jude Schanzer, Adult Program Director, East Meadow Public Library: "Excellent audience response, literary effectiveness, performance quality; I recommend it." Barbara Minerd, Public Relations, Garden City Public Library: "Another excellent program, reliable, professional, timely." Patricia Brandt, Program Director, Jermain Memorial Library, Sag Harbor: "I'd definitely recommend the show to others.  Here are comments from patrons: 'Terrific job!', 'I haven't missed one of his shows here; he's terrific.', 'Very good.', 'Please keep having these shows; they are always great.'"

TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY

Millie Scott, Librarian, West Babylon Public Library: "The West Babylon Literary Club was looking forward to your presentation and again were not disappointed!  You gave an excellent program.  Thanks!"  Kate Horan, Adult Services Librarian, South Country Library : "I am so impressed with how you coordinated text selections with the music of Aaron Copland.  I'm sure you could tell by the audience's enthusiastic response that everyone loved the various voices you highlighted in our narrative journey across America.  Travels With Charley is probably Steinbeck's most accessible book, but you made it absolutely delightful!  I hope you'll come back to do more dramatic readings."  Pat Brandt, Program Director, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor: Comments from the audience: "Excellent production . . .very well done . . . wonderful show . . . enjoyed it immensely . . . very entertaining."  Linda Kundla, Librarian, Sea Cliff Library: "My patrons enjoyed the performance thoroughly."  Fran Carey, patron, Half Hollow Hills Community Library: "I loved Copland's music accompanying the lively and animated reading; this was a delightful and engaging performance." Barbara Minerd, Program Director, Shelter Rock Public Library: "Accents are wonderful and the selection of background music perfect; the audience was mesmerized."  Barbara Sussman, Program Director, Port Jefferson Free Library: "The reviews [from the audience] are in, and as always they are raves."  Tracey Simon, Program Coordinator, Lynbrook Public Library: "The feedback was quite positive and inspired a few members of the audience to read the book and join us for the book discussion the following week!"  Jessica Ley, Program Coordinator, Port Washington Public Library: "Another stellar interpretation of a literary work—very moving and impeccably presented."  Marie DiMonte, patron, Hampton Bays Public Library: "Mr. Houston's presentation was simply wonderful.  The chosen excerpts were enthralling, and I felt I literally traveled the country with Charlie.  A delightful reading."  Carlton Welch, Reference Librarian, Longwood Public Library: "Although I did not view the entire performance, I found that the presenter was both professional and motivated.  The use of sound (music, FX, etc.) was quite effective."  Loretta Piscatella, Librarian, Middle Country Library: "We all enjoyed the reading; I especially enjoyed the addition of Copland's music."  Patti Paris, Adult Services Librarian, Bellmore Memorial Library: "Professionally presented to the great delight and enjoyment of the audience; one patron said, 'Thank you for making the book come alive!'" 

SNOW IN AUGUST

Marcia Johnson, Program Coordinator, North Shore Public Library, Shoreham: "Both performers were well prepared, relaxed and professional.  Mr. Houston's adaptation of the book into the style of an old-time radio broadcast, complete with music underscoring, was deftly done.  Finally, the accents effectively delineated the many characters." — Beth Saltalamacchio, Cultural Program Specialist, Plainview Old Bethpage Library: "This program gave me a better sense of the whole book than I thought was possible.  The segments were well planned, and the actors did a wonderful job creating characters and voices.  The background music added to the creation of an atmosphere." — Evelyn Pusinelli, Program Coordinator, Hicksville Public Library: "The audience was enthralled with the reading; the presentation held their attention.  Excellent." — Barbara Minard, Program Director, Shelter Rock Public Library: "The performance was much more than I expected.  Music selections augmented the reading perfectly.  Foreign accents beautifully transported the audience to a different time and place.  All in all, it was relaxing, entertaining, and very professional." — Marjorie Shuster, Program Director, Merrick Public Library: "A fabulous fascinating program, very well done; I loved it." — Pat Brandt, Program Director, John Jermain Library in Sag Harbor:  "Excellent audience response; from some of them as they left: 'Very good!', 'I really enjoyed it,' 'A very sweet adaptation,' 'Too bad more people couldn't have seen this; it was very well done,' 'Very professional for such a small space.'" — Jude Schanzer, East Meadow Public Library: Excellent rating in all categories and this succinct comment: "Wonderful!"