Kate's was a name that seemed to appear from nowhere and be everywhere very quickly. I was posing questions on Twitter and people were telling me to get in touch with Kate Brombley. We eventually met in Portsmouth in October 2014 as part of an event about making museums accessible to the blind and partially sighted.
What got you interested in Sherlock Holmes and when?
I knew very little about Sherlock Holmes until 2013. I had watched the BBC series with some interest, but I have always enjoyed detective shows and at the time BBC Sherlock was just another one on the list.
In April 2013 I did an internship at a publisher called Michael O'Mara Books and during my lunch breaks I decided I would start expanding my reading. I had completed my Masters in Nineteenth Century literature, so I thought Holmes was good place to start - it was a different genre to what I was used to but still around the same era. I started with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
Coincidentally, a PhD funding opportunity arose at the University of Portsmouth later the same year, which was on Sherlock Holmes. I applied for much the same reason I had started reading Holmes in the April. I was fortunate enough to get the funding and from October 2013 I had to quickly get up-to-date on almost 130 years worth of Sherlockian knowledge!
Did you get encouragement from friends and family? Did anyone question your interests?
No one in my personal circle has questioned it and in fact, most of them have bought me something Sherlock Holmes related or sent me links to articles, events, etc. - it's great!
Who is your favourite screen Holmes and why?
Confession: I haven't watched many Holmes adaptations. It's something I intend on doing, I just haven't made the time yet. But I have spent a lot of time looking at photos of adaptations in the ACD Collection in Portsmouth and my favourite by far has to be Alan Rickman as Holmes in a stage show in the 1970s. It is my second favourite find in the archive after the 1903 Holmes postcards.
When did you first decide to write a book in the field and why?
My PhD project is to write an 80,000 word thesis and I began this in October 2013. I have also written a couple of academic papers that I hope to get published and I have given numerous talks at conferences and events. Once my thesis is finished and has been approved, I hope to turn it into a book so I can share my knowledge more widely.
How do you find the Sherlockian community, any positive or negative experiences?
I absolutely love the Sherlockian community. When I started my PhD I was very quickly established in a network of people who were willing to share information, research, and contacts with me (including you, Alistair [my *blushes* - Ed.]). Words cannot express how grateful I am for you all.
A particularly special experience for me was meeting the Norwegian Explorers of Minnesota. I had been in America for research for two weeks already by the time I got to Minneapolis and I was feeling pretty homesick. The Norwegian Explorers, and in particular Julie, Michael, Gary, and Dick (as well as Tim Rothman and Cheryll at the UoM) made me feel so welcome and at home. Julie and Michael invited me to their house, cooked me dinner, and gave me lifts. Everyone shared their stories with me about Richard Lancelyn Green and gave me ideas for my research. It was the highlight of my trip! It was a truly heart-warming experience and I am still hugely appreciative of everything they did for me.
Written by Kate Brombley