The Giant Rat of Sumatra entered the imaginations of Sherlock Holmes fans in The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire. It wasn't an auspicious mention, really, just a colorful quip from the great detective to his biographer and companion Dr. Watson. "Matilda Briggs was not the name of a young woman," Holmes said to Watson. "It was a ship which is associated with the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared." From that point, this rodent of unusual size took on a life of its own. In 1942, the tale was told on radio with the airing of Edith Meiser's "The Giant Rat of Sumatra" episode of the The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The rat is often referred to in a series of Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, and comedy fans with a thing for terrible puns will be familiar with the Firesign Theatre's comedy LP The Tale of the Giant Rat of Sumatra starring Hemlock Stones and his friend Dr. Flotsom. This is also the tradition from which Memphis' Sherlock Holmes fan club takes its name. And the time has come once again for the Giant Rats of Sumatra to congregate and raise a toast to the world's greatest consulting detective on his birthday, January 6th.
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This year, the Giant Rats will congregate in the Walnut Room at the Racquet Club to eat, drink, check out Holmes memorabilia, play trivia games, and enjoy a concert by violinist Alice Hasen. Classic movies will be screened, and Dr. Karen Golightly will speak on the topic of "Victorian Crime and Horror."
Festivities begin with a 6 p.m. happy hour/cash bar. Period dress is encouraged, not mandatory.