Ever since I jumped into the Sherlock Holmes scene with both feet a few years ago, I’ve been conscious of the issues of gender and feminism that underlie the current surging interest in the detective. One of the first things I learned, one that amazed me, was that the Baker Street Irregulars, respected international Holmes organization, did not admit women until the year 1991. I also learned that in past years, women who wanted to be active in the world of Sherlock Holmes fandom (for it is a fandom, make no mistake), did not always have the easiest time of it. Even today, the issues of sex and gender are a complicated and sometimes unpleasant aspect of being in the Holmesian world.
And yet, this post is not meant to be in the least bleak, because, well, you can’t keep, as they say, good women down. In the late 1960s, a group of enterprising ladies formed an organization called the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes, and it’s still going strong. I respect these women extremely highly, and one of the early trailblazers among feminine Sherlockians is the subject of this post: Marlene Aig.
The reason I gave such a lengthy introduction is that I want to provide context for Marlene’s life. A graduate of Columbia University, Marlene went on to become a respected reporter for the Associated Press and even traveled to the North Pole. She was also a member of the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes in the years long before legions of Holmes-interested women could find like-minded people at the click of a button.
The great tragedy of Marlene’s life is how short it was; she passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in 1996 from an aneurysm. As Sherlockians sometimes say, she “passed beyond the falls,” which is a bit of a silly statement, but I think she might have liked it. Supposedly, she was to have become a member of the Baker Street Irregulars very soon after her untimely death, an honor that was ultimately denied her.
As a Holmesian and as a woman, I’m delighted to say that a piece of Marlene’s legacy has been left behind for us to enjoy. Many years ago, she penned a Sherlockian pastiche–a novella starring Sherlock Holmes that is titled Sherlock Holmes and the Lufton Lady.
Lufton Lady as at once fiercely Holmesian and fiercely feminine, just as I imagine Marlene herself to have been. It’s a traditional mystery in many respects, but it also includes a strongly female touch and a challenge to the idea that Sherlock Holmes was without a heart.
Lovingly edited by Marlene’s friend and notable Sherlockian Chris Redmond, Lufton Lady is a quick, enjoyable read with a charming Holmesian atmosphere and a special flare that surely belonged to Marlene and Marlene alone. It’s a good story, but it’s also a piece of history and a chance to connect with one of the great female pioneers of the world of Sherlock Holmes.
The new generation of Sherlock Holmes fans will never have a chance to meet Marlene Aig, but we can still pay tribute to the indomitable spirit that led her and women like her to pursue their passion for the world’s greatest detective in spite of obstacles. Today, we come along behind and walk in the path that has already been cleared for us. We take what is ours, because they refused to give it up.
Sherlock Holmes and The Lufton Lady is available from all good bookstores including Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository . In ebook format it is in Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone).
Sherlock Holmes and the Lufton Lady was provided for consideration by MX Publishing. The opinions expressed are the reviewer’s own.
The Detective, The Woman and The Winking Tree: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.
The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.