Remembering William Gillette, America’s Sherlock Holmes

Henry Zecher

New book brings back to life one of the Western world’s premier actors and playwrights

Waukesha, WI – (Release Date: March 28, 2011) – Although he is primarily remembered today for playing Sherlock Holmes, William Gillette was one of the leading actors and playwrights of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and a major force in bringing realism to the stage. Yet he is largely unknown today. Now, author Henry Zecher resurrects him through a fascinating biography, William Gillette, America’s Sherlock Holmes.

As a dramatist, Gillette brought realism in his sets, dialogue, and performance. As an actor, he perfected the strong, silent hero persona, put forth the actor’s personality as his most important asset, and left us “The Illusion of the First Time.” He also left us the image of Sherlock Holmes and created the template for producing mysteries on both stage and screen. Yet he is all but forgotten today while less successful playwrights are remembered. William Gillette, America’s Sherlock Holmes brings him back to life and unveils his enormous successes and accomplishments, as well as a brilliant mind, a sharp wit and bountiful heart that made him beloved as well as admired. Here is what three notable people said of this book:

“At last! A gap has been filled on the bookshelves of both Sherlockians and students of American theater. Henry Zecher’s William Gillette, America’s Sherlock Holmes explores the fascinating life and art of one of the stages’ greatest – and perhaps most overlooked – stars. As one of the earliest and most zealous proponents of modern stage writing and acting, Gillette deserves his place in our cultural history books. As the stage’s original of Sherlock Holmes, a performance which formed the template of every subsequent interpretation, he passes into legend.” – Curtis Armstrong, actor

“In William Gillette, America’s Sherlock Holmes, Henry Zecher tells of the life of this uncommon man, with origins in Mark Twain’s Hartford, Connecticut, circle; through decades of work with Charles Frohman, Steele Mackaye and the Barrymores; to his semi-retirement in the mammoth stone castle he built overlooking the Connecticut river, where he once gave Albert Einstein a ride on his miniature railway. Zecher tells this tale in vivid detail, with scrupulous scholarship, using numerous primary sources. He has a talent for the rhythm of biographical prose that makes the book a joy to read. Zecher brings this colorful figure alive and back onto the historical stage in this important book.”

– Steve Courtney, author of Joseph Hopkins Twichell: The Life and Times of Mark Twain’s Closest Friend

“If you want to learn not only about William Gillette but his world as well, then this is the book for you. The word ‘thorough’ is an understatement when describing Zecher’s book. Having been connected with Gillette Castle since 1977, we thought that we knew something about Gillette and his home. Wow, did we learn things.”

– Harold “Tyke” Niver, impersonator of William Gillette

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About the Author

Former journalist and Federal government human resources specialist Henry Zecher is now a freelance writer specializing in historical subjects. Two works of major interest were an evaluation of German Reformer Martin Luther’s impact on the English Bible (published in Christianity Today Magazine, October 23, 1983, republished several more times, recorded for the blind, and finally included in Christian History Magazine’s special Martin Luther issue), and the first analysis from a biblical and historical point of view of the Papyrus Ipuwer, claimed by many to have been an Egyptian version of the plagues on Egypt described in the Old Testament Book of Exodus (The Velikovskian, A Journal of Myth, History and Science, Vol. III, No. 1, January 1997). His wife, Gay Zurich Zecher, is the founder and president of Art & Soul, Inc., producing personalized watercolor cartoons and selling scented candles. They live in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and between them have five children, three grandchildren, a cat and a fluctuating number of grand-pets. Interested parties may read other works on Henry’s website at.

William Gillette, America’s Sherlock Holmes ~ by Henry Zecher

Publication Date: March 28, 2011

Trade Paperback; $23.99; 733 pages; 978-1-4535-5580-4

Trade Hardback; $34.99; 733 pages; 978-1-4535-5581-1

eBook; $9.99; 978-1-4535-5582-8

To request a complimentary paperback review copy, contact the publisher at (888) 795-4274 x. 7879. To purchase copies of the book for resale, please fax Xlibris at (610) 915-0294 or call (888) 795-4274 x. 7879. For more information, contact Xlibris at (888) 795-4274 or on the web at


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