Richard Lancelyn Green’s Birthday Today
Richard Lancelyn Green (10 July 1953 – 27 March 2004), though no longer among the living, remains a strong presence in many of the people, places and ideas throughout the Sherlockian community. Personally it’s a sad realization that I will never have the chance to meet Mr. Lancelyn Green but as I encounter his writings and hear stories from the people that knew him I get the strong sense that not only was he a great Sherlockian, but also a fine and unique human being.
[There are very few images of Richard Lancelyn Green online.]
The Independent ran an extensive obituary after his death in 2004: “Richard Lancelyn Green devoted his life to one of the great icons of popular culture of the 20th century, the most celebrated fictional detective of all, Sherlock Holmes.” The Independent’s obituary ended with a note on “[RLG’s] own vast collection of Doyleiana - one of the finest private accumulations of a single author’s works in the world - is expected to be offered to a suitable institution, for the benefit of scholars and researchers.” The collection was bequeathed to the City of Portsmouth and is now known as The Arthur Conan Doyle Collection.
According to the ACD Collection FAQ "there are in the range of 2,000 artefacts, 15,000 books and 950 boxes full of archival material" - check out Treasures of the Collection for a unique look at individual pieces from the collection. One day I hope to have the chance to spend significant research time looking through the collection that RLG bequeathed. For a short review and some tantalizing images from one sherlockian’s peak at the collection see The Baker Street Supper Club blog.
One of the coolest documents I’ve found related to RLG and the ACD Portsmouth Collection is a PDF scan of a thirty-nine page Portsmouth grammar school monograph called ’Arthur Conan Doyle and the Lancelyn Green Bequest’. It’s a rather impressive document split into two major sections: the first contains a brief explanation of just who Richard Lancelyn Green was, an extensive biography of ACD with a focus on ‘Arthur Conan Doyle and Portsmouth’ and a section on authors connected to Portsmouth (Dickens, Meredith, Besant and Doudney).
The second half of Bequest focuses on the collection itself, breaking it into five major categories: 1) ACD and his family, 2) Spiritualism, 3) the Victorian and Edwardian world, 4) drama based on and related to ACD’s work and 5) the reception and cultural influence of ACD’s best-known character Sherlock Holmes. There’s a plethora of images from the collection peppered throughout the monograph plus a whopping ninety-eight (98!) works cited notes. I learned quite a bit reading through this little masterpiece, including the odd factoid that RLG’s collection contained the passport of Jeremy Brett!!
The Portsmouth Collection is an impressive legacy, but Richard Lancelyn Green is remembered in other places as well….
The Sherlock Holmes Society of London holds an annual Richard Lancelyn Green Lecture. The 2010 speaker was “Marina Stajic, Ph.D., DABFT, ASH, BSI who will enlighten us on the forcible administration of poisons. The case of Dolsky in Odessa and of Leturier in Montpellier didn’t occur to Dr. Stajic at once (or ever), which proves that she is not just any toxicologist.”
The Baker Street Journal in 2007 released To Keep the Memory Green, a collection of essays by friends and colleagues honoring the memory of the late Richard Lancelyn Green. Shortly after this wonderful little book came out I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere dedicated their 8th episode (podcast) to interviewing the co-editors Steven Rothman (editor of my favorite Sherlockian book The Standard Doyle Company: Christopher Morley on Sherlock Holmes) and Nicholas Utechin (author of The Baker Street Journal 2010 Christmas Annual). I’ll be re-listening to this podcast today in celebration of RLG’s birthday.
[Reflections on the Life of Richard Lancelyn Green (1953–2004).]
RLG would have been 58 today.