By Allison Campbell-Jensen
While he was earning his bachelor’s degree from Yale in Physics and the relatively new field of Computer Science, Glen S. Miranker was re-introduced to a friend from childhood: Sherlock Holmes. The tightly written adventures of the iconic detective offered respite of a sort from his studies.
Then, while pursuing his Ph.D. at MIT, his wife of six months, Cathy, bought him a surprise at an antiquarian book sale: an American first edition of “The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes.”
How a collector got started
“Until that moment,” Miranker told Fine Books & Collections magazine, “it hadn’t dawned on me that regular people could have a relationship with books other than reading.”
Miranker progressed in his career, becoming an executive at Apple, and in his “gentle madness,” as he terms it, of becoming an outstanding collector of works about Sherlock Holmes and handwritten pieces by his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle.
A small slice — 221 objects — of the Glen S. Miranker collection of some 6,000 items now is on view in Elmer L. Andersen Library, on the University of Minnesota’s west bank.
This traveling exhibition was first seen by Timothy Johnson at the Grolier Club in New York City. Johnson is the E. W. McDiarmid Curator of the Sherlock Holmes Collections at the University Libraries and a fellow member with Miranker of the Baker Street Irregulars. (At the exhibit, visitors may pick up an excerpt from the Friends of the Sherlock Holmes Collections newsletter, February 2022, for details from Johnson.)
Social and historical context of the Sherlockian canon
“Bright, passionate, and engaging” — those were Miranker’s first impressions of a group he was stepping into: Sherlockians. “I basically fell in with a bad lot,” he jokes with Johnson in their videotaped interview.
With the help of an exhibition booklet that introduces the 221 objects in nine thematic groups, visitors will be able to navigate the exhibition with ease — and increasing excitement as they learn more about the times in which Sherlock was active.
Indeed, for any dedicated reader, budding writer, or fan of Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock, there is a rare treat: an eight-page holograph* speech delivered June 29, 1896 to the Author’s Club: “The Work of Storytelling.” The speech was known but had disappeared, until it showed up at auction in 2004; Miranker was able to acquire it.
Early on in the speech, Conan Doyle said of his beginnings as a writer: “I only know that when I was little I wrote little stories and when bigger, bigger ones.” Beyond the self-deprecating jokes, he offered serious advice to his listeners in London. And, now, you can read it, too, in his precise, yet rounded handwriting.
Don’t miss this exhibit and two special events, March 16 and April 20. As we must say: “The game’s afoot!”
*Holograph, in this context, means “written by hand.”