I came into the world of publishing in 2012 with my first book The Untold Adventure of Sherlock Holmes. The Sherlock boom was at it’s highest. BBC Sherlock was preparing for its second series, WB Sherlock Holmes was still fresh with A Game of Shadows, CBS’ Elementary was coming, and a small faction of people were crying to help Save Undershaw.
What is an Undershaw? To tell you the truth I had no idea. I first came across it around 2011. I discovered it was an old house in Surrey. A house formally owned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and a dedicated group were pushing to see the house saved from redevelopments that would turn this wonderful estate into boring overpriced town houses. Huzzah!
I joined the battle cry, signed petitions and even wrote a graphic novel to help support the #SaveUndershaw campaign called Sherlock Holmes & The Case of the Crystal Blue Bottle. A thrilling tale that featured artwork from Steven E Gordon, Matthew Ferguson, Marcie Klinger and many others!
2012 saw Undershaw saved from redevelopment, but sadly there was no plan in place once the house was ‘saved’. Who would buy it? Who had the money to buy? Could it be a museum, should it be a private dwelling? I mean Great Caesar’s Ghost, it was like climbing a mountain with no idea how to get down.
Luckily there was someone to save the day! Stepping Stones School acquired the old house. Now the estate would not be threatened by redevelopment that would see the original house destroyed but instead saved, renewed, and preserved for ages to come with the incredible bonus of it becoming a school. When I learnt Stepping Stones were to take over the ‘Saving’ of Undershaw I breathed a sigh of relief.
Now Undershaw, and the legacy of Arthur Conan Doyle can live on. Undershaw has been saved and I have been thoroughly impressed with the care and attention the school has taken to make sure the house returns to its original state when Conan Doyle lived there.
I also have the privilege of writing a book about the history of Conan Doyle and his time at Undershaw. I am knee-deep in research and writing at the moment for that project but it is less than a year away, so watch this space for updates.
If you want to financially help Stepping Stones you can do so by purchasing Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Crystal Blue Bottle – all proceeds go to aided the school and Undershaw’s redevelopment. Also be sure and check out other projects that help the school featured in the Radio Times – MX Publishing has put together the largest collection of Sherlock Holmes Short Stories that will go towards the school featuring yours truly and many other great Holmes authors.