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The Donald J Hobbs Sherlock Holmes Collection

The DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Greek Interpreter, Mycroft remarks to Watson, “I hear of Sherlock everywhere…”  Though it’s a bit of hyperbole for the reclusive Mycroft, it’s no exaggeration today.  The exploits of the famous detective are known all over the world, as can be seen in the Donald J. Hobbs Collection at SMU’s DeGolyer Library.

The Hobbs Collection, numbering over 8,000 volumes, contains translations of the Holmes canon in 108 languages both natural and artificial, from Afrikaans to Zulu, as well as non-Roman English alphabets such as Braille, Shorthand, Morse code, and even Dancing Men! 

Although he discovered the great detective at the age of 9, Don Hobbs did not immediately gravitate to Sherlock Holmes collecting.  His marriage in the mid-1980s to his British wife took him regularly to England, where he purchased a small Holmes collection.  To this he began to add regularly and discerningly.  When Hobbs was invited by the collector John Bennett Shaw to visit his collection in Santa Fe, he was awe-struck by Shaw’s collection, and became a dedicated Sherlockian.

Shaw had sixty translations of works from the Holmes canon into other languages; Hobbs had two.  He determined to find and purchase copies of the remaining fifty-eight owned by Shaw, and over the next twenty-odd years, found all but two of them.  His collecting was now focused keenly on translations.

After nearly four decades of collecting, Hobbs acquired a collection of translations which greatly expanded on the list in De Waal and Vanderburgh’s The Universal Sherlock Holmes. Hobbs had assembled what he named The Galactic Sherlock Holmes.

Though of particular interest to translators and language scholars, the collection also presents interpretations of Holmes by illustrators and book designers from around the world, and explores the publication of the Holmes canon in English, from the Strand Magazine, to the many reprints of the stories in paperback from publishers in the United Kingdom and the USA. The collection also includes parodies, pastiches, new “classic” Holmes stories and novels, and modern interpretations.

Visit this rich and varied collection of Sherlockian resources at SMU’s DeGolyer Library in Dallas.