Mar 15, 2015
For our diamond jubilee episode - our 75th - we're pleased to welcome Sonia Fetherston, BSI ("The Solitary Cyclist"), author of the latest entry in the Baker Street Irregulars Biography Series, Prince of the Realm: The Most Irregular James Bliss Austin.
Bliss Austin, BSI ("The Engineer's Thumb") was among the first class that was given titular investitures to the Baker Street Irregulars. But he was more than that, as we discovered. He was an accomplished researcher and industrialist who rose to the executive ranks of U.S. Steel; he was a collector of and expert on Japanese art; he was a Sherlockian who was most generous with his time and collection; he was a family man.
Sonia does a fine job of describing the influences on Bliss's life and the many lives that Bliss influenced as well. From budding collectors and Sherlockians to veteran scholars - including the aprocryphal Helene Yuhasova story. She also shared Bliss Austin's firsthand experience with a female interloper at an all-male Sherlockian group.
Discover how Bliss's collection, originally bequeathed to Lehigh University, made its way to the market. Listen to how a collector of Bliss's stature acquires original manuscripts in Arthur Conan Doyle's own hand: The Valley of Fear and "The Red Circle." And learn about how you can read a Bliss Austin paper - given at an early BSI dinner - that has never before appeared in print.
"My mind," he said, "rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram, or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation.