Fane of the Orchid Cult
Sir Anthony Hayden Gilman is the proprietor of Sir Anthony’s Fallen Leaves, a small bookshop in Oxford specializing in rare occult titles. He is a famously well-regarded skeptic whose work investigating paranormal claims and hoaxes is well known around Oxford and London. His friendly demeanor and reputation for fairness have disarmed many would-be critics in Spiritualist circles, despite his tendency toward materialist conclusions. He describes himself as an enthusiastic reader of occult topics, a “hobbyist” whose meager income is occasionally supplemented through “investigative consultancy.”
Sir Anthony has been a widower for over a decade. His wife Rachel was kind and a sharp wit but rather withdrawn after the loss of their only child, Isaac, who died of diphtheria while fighting in the Boer War. Not long for this world, Sir Anthony has recently been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer by Dr Thurston Ellery.
In recent months Sir Anthony has focused his waning energy on the task of assembling a team of investigators to fill his niche once he finally launches his last great investigation, facing the great frontier of death. He describes the team that he is assembling as “the brightest young minds in England” (or “Christendom,” depending on his audience.) The five-member untitled team thusfar includes a Medical Doctor, a Scientist, an Alienist, an Artist/Pilot, and an Antiquarian. One important role that has yet to be filled is that of a properly-licensed Private Investigator. Anthony has been trying to convince his protégé “Queen Lizzy” (Viola Weatherwax) to become licensed, to little avail.
Sir Anthony loves a Pimms cup, peaty Scotch, and Latakia tobacco. His beloved calico cat Dastardly Dan has diabetes. Anthony blames the fiscal nightmare of his life’s work (risky debt-financed literary acquisitions) on Dastardly Dan’s poor accounting skills, often muttering “that fuzzy Jew.” Sir Anthony’s fondness for anti-semetic slurs is ironic; he is an Hazzan at Oxford’s Orthodox Synagogue. “Sir” Anthony is not a proper knight; he loves to rankle the gentry.
His pet peeve is the conventionally accepted use of the word “entitled” to mean “named.” He is fond of debating the semantics of his peculiar objection, and if his sparring partner drops the matter he is happy to twist his logic into knots all by himself: “I am on the side of those modernists who would divide entitlements from the very titles of the entitled dead and to redeem at least this one word from their rotting touch. Men are entitled; let books be titled. Meaning is the thing. That is to say I am a passive aggressive socialist who believes the significance of a thing is never in the signs that haunt it. Of course I am happier misunderstood than corrected…”
Old Dastardly doing his thing: