When: Sat., May 28, 8 p.m. 2011
It's hardly a case worthy of the great Sherlock Holmes: a grubby little land grab in Surrey, about an hour southwest of London, featuring the shameful demolition by neglect of the great house on the property. But that house is Undershaw, the home Sir Arthur Conan Doyle designed and built, and the place where he wrote a series of his most thrilling works, including The Hound of the Baskervilles. The news of its present condition and its dubious future—sliced into a series of apartments, should a developer have his way—has the author's fans the world over up in arms.
That includes the local steampunk community, which organized this dance and silent auction to raise awareness about the author's threatened home. "I think there's kind of a weird ... snobbery, for lack of a better word," says Kimberly Pifer, North Carolina representative for the Undershaw Preservation Trust. "The house is a connection to one of the most enduring literary figures in the last 120 years. Yet the British government has basically said the house was not of equal value to the homes of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, which mystifies me. Conan Doyle basically created the modern detective story. He's the one who brought science into the realm of the mystery and made it the basis of how the crime was solved. I'd say there are few literary exports from England more globally known and loved than Sherlock Holmes."
"If you google his name," adds Emma Cabrera, proprietor of the Pittsboro steampunk gallery and coffeehouse Davenport & Winkleperry, "you get millions of results—on top of the Warner Bros. films with Robert Downey Jr. and the modern-day BBC series. He's a very enduring figure." The silent auction includes multimedia, photographic and visual artworks from regional artists including Theresa Pine, M.S. Corley, Jason Chalker, Erin Rae Watson, Derek Smith and Sandra Smith-Wolf, as well as items from London's Sherlock Holmes Museum, Hoxton Street Monster Supplies and SelfMadeHero publishers. The doors open at 8 p.m., music starts at 9, and the bidding closes at 1 a.m. —Byron Woods