“I have some knowledge, however, of baritsu …”
– Sherlock Holmes on his defeat of Professor Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls
While the real martial art of Bartitsu was almost completely forgotten throughout the 20th century, this immortal line penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle provided the vital clue that led to its modern revival.
The Undershaw Preservation Trust has designated May 14th as Worldwide Undershaw Preservation Day. Supporters of the plan to save and restore Doyle’s former residence, where he wrote The Return of Sherlock Holmes and the lines about Holmes’ use of “baritsu” against Moriarty, are encouraged to wear something Sherlockian on that day and to help promote the preservation project.
All details, including video, historical images, essays and messages of support are available at the Preservation Trust’s website.
Save Undershaw from WetherbyPond on Vimeo.
Built in 1897, Undershaw was the residence of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his family at the time Doyle wrote several of his best and most famous works, including The Adventure of the Empty House, in which Sherlock Holmes defeats Professor Moriarty through the use of “baritsu”.
Sadly neglected now, this historic building is threatened by re-development. The Save Undershaw Preservation Trust is working to restore the home as a museum. All details, including extensive historical information, photo galleries and the preservation project are available at the Save Undershaw website.
Masculinity, Crime and Self Defence in Victorian Literature is the title of Bartitsu Society associate Emelyne Godfrey’s new book, now available for pre-publication orders via the Macmillan website, Amazon and other booksellers.
Ms. Godfrey’s previous antagonistics-related projects have included entries in Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism in Great Britain and Ireland, the two-volume Martial Arts of the World encyclopedia set and the article Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Bartitsu for History Today magazine. She has also lectured on the subjects of crime and self defence in the Victorian era and is among the interviewees for our forthcoming documentary, Bartitsu: the Lost Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes.
According to the publishers:
This book considers crime fighting from the seldom explored viewpoint of the civilian city-goer. While rates of violent crime were generally declining, the period from the ‘garotting’ (strangling) panics of the 1850s to the First World War was characterized by a cultural fascination with physical threat and personal protection. As masculine violence became less tolerated, literary giants such as Anthony Trollope and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle began to ask themselves which methods the pedestrian should employ in this new age. From the pistol duel to the Whitechapel Murders, the self-defence scenario provided an avenue through which contrasting visions of masculinity could be explored. Here, not only literary sources but artefacts tell some bizarre stories. Why was the truncheon-like stick known as the ‘life-preserver’ so dangerous, and what exactly was Sherlock Holmes’ mysterious skill, ‘baritsu’?
The contents include:
List of Illustrations
Note on the Text and Abbreviations
PART I: THE GAROTTING FARCE: ARMOURED MASCULINITY AND ITS LIMITS: 1851-1867
Foreign Crimes Hit British Shores
The Ticket-Of-Leave Man
Tooled Up: The Pedestrian’s Armoury
PART II: ANTHONY TROLLOPE: AGGRESSION PUNISHED AND REWARDED: 1867-1887
Threats From Below And Above
Lord Chiltern And Mr Kennedy
PART III: PHYSICAL FLAMBOYANCE IN THE SHERLOCK HOLMES CANON: 1887- 1914
Urban Knights In The London Streets
Congratulations to Emy Godfrey and we’re looking forward to her book, which will surely be a fascinating and informative academic excursion through the mean streets of Victorian England.