Thursday, September 27, 2018

Dating The Nearly Undateable

I gave a talk once where I said the only absolute that you get in Canonical chronology was that all of the stories had to have happened before they were published. Brilliant, eh? Well, it also happens to be true. The same thing is true for all of the unwritten cases that Holmes and Watson refer to. We have only 60 published, and according to Holmes in 'The Final Problem' (FINA) there were "over a thousand" - up to that point, of course. So, let's talk about some of the unpublished ones.
I guess I should make it clear that we're not going to be looking at a number of different chronologist's dating of those cases, since not too many took up the challenge of dating them. One that did was Harold Wilmerding Bell in his book Sherlock Holmes And Doctor Watson: The Chronology Of Their Adventures. Since he attacked them all and tried to date them, we'll be examining his findings. Now, he didn't come up with an exact date for all of them, but did for a good number of them. Let's start at the beginning.

In the first three universally accepted cases of 'The Gloria Scott' (GLOR), 'The Musgrave Ritual' (MUSG), and A Study in Scarlet (STUD) there are several mentioned that never made it out of Watson's notebook. With these Bell isn't able to do much better than give a range of years that they could've fallen in.
The following ones are listed as happening from 1877 - 1880.
The Tarleton Murders, The Case of Vamberry the Wine Merchant, The Old Russian Woman, The Aluminium Crutch, Ricoletti of the Club Foot
Another, The Forgery Case, is actually more specifically dated to Jan-Feb 1881. His reasoning is taken from what Holmes said about it: "Lestrade is a well-known detective. He got himself into a fog recently over a forgery case, and that was what brought him here." This dating is possible due to his dating (and that of many others) for STUD as starting on Friday, March 4, 1881. I can live with that logic.
Two others, the cases of Mortimer Maberley and Mrs. Farintosh, were mentioned in later cases (3GAB and SPEC) as being early or before Watson's time. They are also marginally dated to 1877 - 1880.
So as not to make this post be really, really long I'm going to list all of the unpublished cases with their dates. I will make the occasional comment. Remember that all of his dates are naturally based on his chronology. (That's what I'll be making comments about.)
The Vatican Cameos - June 1886 (mentioned in HOUN)
The Blackmailing Case - September-October 1886 (HOUN)
Bell dates The Hound of the Baskervilles (HOUN) to Tuesday, September 28, 1886.
The Nonpareil Club Scandal, The Unfortunate Mme. Montpensier - October-November 1886 (HOUN)
The above two cases are dated after Bell's beginning date for HOUN becasue Watson mentions them in passing toward the end of the novel.
The Netherland-Sumatra Company - February-April 1887 (REIG)
This one is almost dated by Watson as he says that it occurred in the "spring of '87." Bell's date for 'The Reigate Squires' is Tuesday, April 26, 1887, so he places the other case just before it.
The King of Scandinavia - May or June 1887 (NOBL)
The French Will Case - c. 1st of September 1887 (SIGN)
The Paradol Chamber, The Amateur Mendicant Society, The Loss of the 'Sophy Anderson', The Grice Patersons, The Camberwell Poisoning Case - all 1887 (FIVE)
The five above cases are all listed in FIVE as happenning in 1887, but no other info is given.
Bert Stevens - 1887 (NORW)
This one is mentioned in a case from the August of 1895 (according to Bell) case of 'The Norwood Builder.'

The next 21 cases are all listed as occurring after Watson's first marriage which Bell places around November 1, 1887.
The Trepoff Murder, The Atkinson Brothers, The Reigning Family of Holland - November 1887-March 22, 1888 (SCAN & IDEN)
These three cases are all mentioned in SCAN which, as you can see, Bell dates to March 22, 1888. The last one, 'Reigning Family' has the singular distinction of being mentioned in two different published cases - SCAN and 'A Case of Identity' (IDEN).
The Second Stain (II), The Tired Captain - July 1888 (NAVA)
Both of the above cases are listed as immediately succeeding Watson's marriage (which Bell places in November 1887, as you'll recall). I should note here that Bell believes there are three cases which bear the name 'The Second Stain,' but that's a blog post all on its own.
The Dundas Separation Case, The Marseilles Case - middle of September 1888 (IDEN)
The Murder of Victor Savage - before November 1888 (DYIN)
The Manor House Case - summer of 1890 (GREE)
The French Government Case - December 1890-March 1891 (FINA)
This next set of cases are post-Hiatus and up to the date Bell thinks held Dr. Watson's second marriage.
The Second Stain (III) - Autumn 1894 (NAVA)
The Red Leech, The Addleton Tragedy, The Smith-Mortimer Succession Case, Huret, The Boulevard Assassin - 1894 (GOLD)
The S.S. Friesland - January-February 1895 (NORW)
Colonel Carruthers - March 1895 (WIST)
John Vincent Harden - April 1895 (SOLI)
The Death of Cardinal Tosca, Wilson, the Notorious Canary-Trainer - June 1895 (BLAC)
Old Abrahams - summer of 1895 (LADY)
It is at this point that Bell believes Watson gets married again.
Mr. Fairdale Hobbs - 1896 (REDC)
The 'Matilda Briggs' - 1896 (SUSS)
The Coiner - early 1897 (SHOS)
The St. Pancras Case - May 1897 (SHOS)
The Two Coptic Patriarchs - July 1898 (RETI)
The Conk-Singleton Forgery Case - July 1900 (SIXN)
The Ferrers Documents, The Abergavenny Murder - May 1901 (PRIO)
The Sultan of Turkey - January 1903 (BLAN)
Finally, Bell thinks this is the time of Watson's third mariage.

At the end of his book Bell lists cases that he calls 'undateable.' He asks, "Are we to accept all the titles quoted as those of cases in which Holmes himself was consulted?" He thinks that the cases were mentioned, but weren't necessarily taken by or involving Holmes at all. Here are the 18 he lists.
Mrs. Cecil Forester, The Bishopsgate Jewel Case - before Wednesday, September 7, 1887 (SIGN)
The Darlington Substitution Scandal, The Arnsworth Castle Business - before Thursday, March 22, 1888 (SCAN)
Mrs. Etherege's Husband - before middle September 1888 (IDEN)
The Tankerville Club Scandal - before late September 1888 (FIVE)
The Second Stain (I) - March 1881-Autumn 1890 (YELL)
The Woman at Margate - March 1881-Autumn 1890 (SECO III)(Recall that he thinks there are three SECO's, and that the third one is the one we all know.)
Archie Stamford - March 1881-Autumn 1890 (SOLI)
Colonel Warburton's Madness - March 1881-Autumn 1890 (ENGR)
Mathews - before 1891 (EMPT)
Henry Staunton - before February 1897 (MISS)
The Abernetty Family - before July 1900 (SIXN)
Baron Dowson - before summer 1903 (MAZA)
The Disappearance of James Phillimore, Isadora Persano and the Remarkable Worm, The Loss of the Cutter "Alicia' - all before 1903 (THOR)
Count von Und Zu Grafenstein - before 1904 (LAST)
The last paragraph of the book talks about one of the more famous unpublished cases (that isn't listed above) in The Politician, The Lighthouse, and The Trained Cormorant. He offers no date. It is mentioned in VEIL, which he dates to autumn of 1896, but the story wasn't published until 1927, so it could've happened about anytime.
One thing that bothers me about his dating of the unpublished stories is that he doesn't take into account the time from when the story happened to when it was published. Watson could've mentioned these only in editing, and if the case wasn't put into the public forum for a few years then it's possible those cases could've happened after the case was over, and Watson just tossed it in to take up space or for dramatic effect. Who knows. Either way, this post will serve as a list of the cases which we never got to enjoy from Watson (if nothing else).
Next month will bring you another article from my archives that deals with a specific case's chronology. Don't know which yet as I grab them at random. So, I'll see you then (and on Facebook). Until then...thanks for reading.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Chronology Appears In This Post

If I had my way, and could pick whatever career I wanted, I would pick researcher. I think the idea of chasing historical ghosts and facts is all kinds of wonderful, and I would never feel like I was "at work" again. But, it's not what I do, and that's unfortunate. Maybe one day when I retire from the federal government position I currently hold. Maybe. One day. Until then I will just continue to do this "job" and also continue to love doing it. And maybe even take it to another level.
Some years ago I was talking to a friend of mine about this venture, and they brought up the idea of a YouTube channel. I was intrigued, but certain that was bigger than what I was doing. The conversation never really got into specifics, only generalities, but it still made me think. Now, at the time I was struggling with the idea of even keeping this blog going. I just hadn't found its place yet, and I grew apart from it a number of times. Happily, it eventually got its footing, and now has a solid direction. But, a YouTube channel? Well, let's talk about that.
I've been thinking more about this lately. I like the thought, and know enough people whom I could ask for help when needed, but I'm torn when it comes to content. Like many of you I have a regular everyday life. Everything I do here has to be worked in around it. I spend a lot of my free time searching for things to give you, and the thought of having to find unique facts and stories to put on a separate medium is a little daunting. If I could do this all the time then it would be no problem, but I can't. So, it begs the question: what to do?
I've done Power Point presentations for nearly every paper I've given. I think I have a pretty good handle on it, and enjoy putting them together, so doing so for an episode would be no different except in the way it's done. But, do I make episodes based on posts that I put on here, or do something totally different? It would be no problem to take one of these posts and put it into another form. Heck, I would even narrate it. But, it would be doubling up, and if you've read it here you probably don't want to see the same thing over again. The only difference would be it would be read to you instead of you reading it. (I have a decent voice - so I've been told - but I'm no Gary Owens.)
This is all under consideration along with the chronologist society, and possible meetings and gatherings of said society. I've also got book ideas on the calendar, and write columns and articles fairly frequently. You could say I'm already busy with this, but I wouldn't do it if I didn't truly enjoy it. So, back to the original question of what to do content-wise.
I'm going to be giving this a lot of attention in the coming weeks, and should I decide it's something I am going to do perhaps I can have a plan in place for it by the end of the year so that I can start bright and early in 2019. In the meantime I will still bring you Facebook posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. (Though I do have one planned for Sunday, September 30. You'll see why.) So far I haven't found any of this too overwhelming, and with the amount of information available I'm sure that will never happen as it's just laying there waiting for someone to talk about it.

I also want to touch on something else here - other blogs. Seems there an awful lot of them that deal with Victorian times and London and all of the things that people dealt with during that time. I have amassed almost 50 of them, and can always mine material from them, but I try not to duplicate anything they did. Often I can fnd enough data to make a new and original post on at least one of the pages. I have ones that deal with crime, or everyday living, or bizarre aspects of Victorian life, or simple trivia. I have read about things from murder to sewers, and from food to cemeteries. It's so much fun to find something I can tie Holmes and/or Watson into, though I'll admit it's tough at times. Still, with 60 stories in The Canon, and hundreds of thousands of words, a way can always be found.
I realize that this particular installment didn't actually touch on much that has to do with Sherlockian chronology, but the next one will. It's my bread and butter, and I shan't shy far from it. So, if it's that type of thing you're thirsting for, then your wish will soon be fulfilled. Until then, keep an eye on the Facebook page because that thing is always busy. And it's almost always about chronology, or something in Victorian London that Holmes and/or Watson would've had to seen or known of.
I'll leave you for now, but not for long. And as always...thanks for reading.