Okay, this post isn't going to be about chronology at all. Well, I do kind of throw it in once, but for the most part this one won't deal with the Sherlock Holmes Canon much. What it is about is a special treat for you because this is something I never do: I'm going to let you in on one of the numerous Sherlockian "mysteries" that I work on whenever I can, but without success (so far). Basically, I want to see if anyone can come up with an answer to it. Or find more than I have.
To begin, I don't remember how I came across this. I am on Google Books a lot just flipping through publications from around the time of Holmes, so I probably just happened upon it. In the December 31, 1904, edition of The Graphic there was an illustration for a pantomime play that debuted on December 26, 1904, called "White Cat." Here it is:
I kept looking and found descriptions of the play, but nowhere was there any indication of Populo being based on Holmes. (I also learned that for a little while the character was played by someone named Monte Elmo, and that the character was listed as Popula on occasion. There are other details I found, as well, but they don't really add anything to this mystery.) One day, while searching, I found a second illustration in The Illustrated London News from January 14, 1905, that featured the play, or bits of it. There he was again:
To further muddy the water, I found a (not so favorable) review of the play in the January 11, 1905, edition of PUNCH where the character is referred to as 'Coster.' (Another is referred to as 'Gorilla' but this is the only time I found these two character names associated with it.)
So, what do you think? I will probably do more research at another time since this is one of those little backburner problems that I pick up from time to time, but since they aren't about chronology I don't spend too much time on them. But I am interested in what YOU think. I think there's a good paper or presentation in this, but only if I can find out that the character is actually based on Holmes.
I rarely share these things because I like to find out the answers on my own, but I'm actually allowing you into my space on this one. So take it and run. If I don't hear from anyone about it I'll keep looking (someday), but I would like for all of you intrepid folk out there to poke around the archives and see what you can find.
Let me know what you come up with, and I'll see you next time. Until then...thanks for reading.