Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects
From the Collection of Glen S. Miranker
Since his first appearance in 1887 during the 50th year of Queen Victoria’s reign, Sherlock Holmes has been nothing short of a literary juggernaut. And the Great Detective who dazzled 19th-century readers is just as alive for their 21st-century counterparts, as evident in this traveling exhibition.
Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects draws upon the preeminent collection assembled by Glen S. Miranker, rich in bibliographic rarities, manuscripts, books, correspondence, and artwork, all with fascinating stories to tell beyond their significance as literary and cultural landmarks. Named for the address of the detective’s Baker Street lodgings, the exhibition presents items that will intrigue bibliophiles, Sherlockians, and general audiences.
Highlights include leaves from The Hound of the Baskervilles; four short story manuscripts; original artwork by the British and American illustrators who created Sherlock’s iconic look for readers; a wealth of holograph letters from Arthur Conan Doyle to friends, colleagues, and well-wishers; a fascinating cache of pirated editions; the only known salesman’s dummy for the US Hound; an “idea book” of Conan Doyle’s private musings in which he (in)famously penned “Killed Holmes” on his calendar for December 1893; and a handwritten speech—never before displayed—with the author’s explanation for killing Holmes:
I have been much blamed for doing that gentleman to death but I hold that it was not murder but justifiable homicide in self defence [sic] since if I had not killed him he would certainly have killed me.
About the Lilly Library
The second venue for Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects, the Lilly Library on the Indiana University, Bloomington, campus is home to one of the nation’s foremost collections of rare books, manuscripts, and literary and historic artifacts. Its holdings include more than 450,000 rare books, 8.5 million manuscripts, the world’s largest collection of mechanical puzzles, and 150,000 pieces of sheet music.
Among the Lilly Library’s most famous materials are a Gutenberg New Testament; the first printed edition of The Canterbury Tales; Thomas Jefferson’s personal copy of the first printing of the Bill of Rights; John James Audubon’s Birds of America; a first edition of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice; the original manuscript of J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan; the William Shakespeare “First Folio” of 1623; numerous illuminated medieval books of hours; and the personal archives of such cultural figures as Sylvia Plath, Orson Welles, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., among others.
Following an 18-month renovation, the Lilly Library reopened in August 2021 with updates to technological equipment, mechanical systems and lighting, ADA access and building navigtion, space configuration, and a more modern presentation of the library’s literary and cultural treasures, allowing students, professors, scholars, and researchers more effective access to the library’s immense collection.
About the Collector
Glen Miranker’s collection has been 45 years in the making. He had read the Sherlock Holmes stories as a kid and returned to them as a Yale undergraduate (BS, 1975), to relieve the stress of a double major in physics and the newly minted discipline of computer science. While a graduate student at MIT (where he earned a master’s and PhD in 1977 and 1979, respectively), he began collecting and also forging contacts and friendships in the bibliosphere. He joined several Sherlockian societies, including the Friends of Irene Adler and the Speckled Band of Boston, and was invested in the Baker Street Irregulars (“The Origin of Tree Worship”) in 1991.
After moving to California in 1981 and founding several start-up companies, Glen was invited by Steve Jobs to join Next Computer in 1990 and Apple Computer in 1996. For most of his tenure at Apple, he ran hardware development and served as Apple’s Chief Technology Officer (Hardware), retiring in 2004.
Glen has loaned books, artwork, and holograph materials from his collection to many exhibitions, including the 2019 exhibition The History of the BSI Through 221 Objects at Indiana University’s Lilly Library; the 2014 exhibition Sherlock Holmes, the Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die at the Museum of London; and the 2009 exhibition Ever Westward: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in American Culture at Harvard’s Houghton Library. He has also mounted two solo shows: the 2010 exhibition Sidney Paget’s Sherlock Holmes: A Sesquicentennial Exhibition at the Arion Press Gallery, and You Know My Methods: A Collector’s Approach to the Sherlockian Canon, a 2012 exhibition at the Book Club of California.
Glen serves as a board member at the Rare Book School (where he is also a perennial student and a fundraiser) and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival (where he helped with the restoration of William Gillette’s long-lost 1916 Sherlock Holmes movie). He is a founder and past board member of the Baker Street Irregulars Trust and a past board member of the American Foundation for Toronto Public Library, the Russell/Engleman Rheumatology Research Center at the University of California San Francisco, and the National Cryptological Museum.