Sherlock Holmes Fascination Continues With Local Group


The Guinness Book of World Records lists Sherlock Holmes, a fictional detective that debuted in 1887 by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as the most portrayed human literary character in film and television history. Since then, more than 25,000 stage adaptations, films, television productions and publications have featured Holmes. Over the last 137 years, Holmes has spurred worldwide fandemonium and countless groups dedicated to sharing and learning more about the detective, including the Society of the Naval Treaty (also known as TNT) in Anne Arundel County. Formed in 1997, the group is celebrating more than a quarter of a century together.

Founded by Lynn Whitall, the group now meets at St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Crownsville Road on Sunday afternoons, every other month, to discuss the 56 stories and four Sherlock Holmes novels written by Doyle. Members take turns leading the bimonthly discussion and choose one of the works, collectively called the “canon,” that will be read. Over the last 27 years, the group has worked its way through the canon multiple times.

“Sherlock Holmes is a wonderful character! He’s smart, brilliant actually, but there are so many things about him that you won’t like,” Whitall said. “Good grief, you’d never invite him over for dinner! This kind of dynamic character development lends itself to wonderful, spirited discussions.”

Michael Gallagher of Severna Park has been regularly meeting with the group for the past three years. “I really like Holmes’ personality and his supernatural abilities (as a detective),” Gallagher said. “I also enjoy the Victorian London setting.”

But it’s the mysteries and the writing of Doyle that Gallagher appreciates the most. “Holmes wouldn’t be so famous if it wasn’t for the writing of Doyle,” added Gallagher, talking about the complex and compelling character. “The fact that there are so many adaptations shows what a great character Holmes is. Everybody loves a good mystery, and generally in the end, the good guy usually wins.”

Gallagher appreciates the closeness and diversity of the TNT group, noting that there is always good conversation. “You don’t have to be an expert to participate,” added Gallagher of the nonintimidating nature of the group. “If you’re interested in Sherlock Holmes or Doyle, this group is a great way to learn more.”

Whitall, who teaches three sections of Sherlock Holmes courses at Anne Arundel Community College (AACC), said that group members come from as far as the Eastern Shore and Laurel.

Richard Honafous, a Severna Park “Sherlockian” resident, joined the group a few years ago after taking one of Whitall’s classes at AACC.

“Sherlock Holmes is such a well-developed character that he often outshines the author,” said Honafous of Holmes’ larger-than-life persona. “Doyle was a brilliant writer who we lose sight of behind his most famous character.”

Whitall added, “Doyle was a prolific writer, but he didn’t like Sherlock Holmes! Doyle was a brilliant man and is credited with creating new genres of writing like crime, mystery and science fiction. As his life went on, he hated Sherlock Holmes more and more because he took his other writings more seriously. Despite Sherlock Holmes’ popularity, Doyle wanted to concentrate on what he considered to be more serious, good, heavy literature.”

Whitall and the group try to stay up on the stage and screen adaptations of Sherlock Holmes stories and discuss them during their meetings.

TNT is always accepting new members. Whitall added, “Come for the stories, but stay for the people. This is a nice group of people.”

To learn more about the local Society of the Naval Treaty (TNT), contact Whitall at


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