Christopher Darlington Morley (5 may 1890 - 28 march 1957) was an American writer and newspaperman known for being the father of the Sherlockiana.
Christopher Morley was born in Haverford, Pennsylvania. He is the son of a professor of mathematics at the Vienna University where he was, himself, a graduate. He was laureate of Phi Beta Kappa from (the oldest and most respected academic reward in USA since 1776) and was awarded a scholarship to study at New College of Oxford in England, where he arrived in 1910. In 1911, his old sherlockian passion is rekindled by the conference of the young Ronald Knox, given at Trinity College, Oxford.
Back home, Morley becomes newspaper columnist and editor for several periodicals. He has also written many novels and other literary works. The most famous are Where the Blue Begins, Thunder on the Left, Kitty Foil (later adapted to cinema), Parnassus on Wheels and The Haunted Bookshop.
Morley worked for publisher Doubleday and married Helen Fairchild in june 1914 in Philadelphia, he worked for the Ladies Home Journal and the Evening Public Ledger. In 1920 he moved to New York and was columnist for the Evening Post. He was also a contributing editor of the Saturday supplement of the Literary Review. When this supplement disappears, Christopher Morley found the Saturday Review of Literature which he ran for several years. In this position, Christopher Morley could encourage the intellectuals of the time to join him in his new sherlockian hobby.
He created the Three-Hours for Lunch Club, a very special club (both for men and women) gathering his pen friends, who did not meet regularly but whenever its members wanted to. There was no official membership. It is in this context and in this Club that The Baker Street Irregulars was created.
Christopher Morley had a sense of humor particularly lively and sometimes ribald. He maintained an exchange of fake letters about Sherlock Holmes with an imaginary correspondent named Jane Nightwork. If you suspect that Nightwork is a pun on the profession of the lady, you are right (see Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 2, III, ii). With extensive knowledge of the literature, a good sense of humor, a playful imagination and a tremendous joie de vivre, Christopher Morley loved the joyful outings with friends. The important thing was that he had fun. Launching the sherlockiana, he had almost never the impression he had given birth to a new cult. The future disciples would be called sherlockians (holmesians in Europe), happy victims of the Christopher Morley's passion. All sherlockian will enjoy reading his In Memoriam: Sherlock Holmes, published for the first time on 2 august 1930 in his column The Bowling Green in The Saturday Review of Literature, and in the preface of the edition The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Doubleday), if they want more about Sherlock Holmes and especially to appreciate the talent of Christopher Morley.
- In Memoriam: Sherlock Holmes (2 august 1930, The Saturday Review of Literature)
- Was Sherlock Holmes an American? (1936, in Streamlines, Doubleday, Doran & Co.)
- Dr. Watson's Secret (1936, in Streamlines, Doubleday, Doran & Co.)
- Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: A Textbook of Friendship (1944, Harcourt)
In Memoriam: Sherlock Holmes (2 august 1930, The Saturday Review of Literature >)
See also :
- Irregular Memories of the "Thirties": Christopher Morley on Sherlock Holmes (BSI Archival Series, No. 2) by Jon L. Lellenberg (1 january 1990)
- The Standard Doyle Company: Christopher Morley on Sherlock Holmes by Steven Rothman (1991)