Wednesday, December 29, 2021

My Unwavering Love Of The Historical

Well, it's been quite a year (again!) - both in the world of Sherlock Holmes and the planet in general. Turmoil and corruption seem to be what fills the headlines daily on our floating rock, and I'm sure the people of Victorian London felt the same way. Still, it's possible to mine beautiful nuggets out of the piles of waste, and it's something we will continue to do here at Historical Sherlock. How? By doing what we've always done - staying true to the subject.

I do a lot of research, and like a miner I have to sort through a lot of refuse just to find the good bits. Oft times you'll find me reading a random newspaper on British Newspaper Archive from Holmes's time just to read it. I'm always waiting for something to jump out at me, but usually I'm simply reading something from that time that interests me so much. It's true that I will look for specific things, but nearly every time I will read the rest of whatever publication I have before me. You never know what you might find. Such was the case earlier this month (December) when I came across the name Sherlock Holmes in a paper from Wales. 

I wasn't expecting it, and it was something I talked about over on my corresponding Facebook Page. I have also had success on Google Books,, Internet Archive, and any one of dozens of other sites that have had the foresight to keep all of the things people would generally toss out. I find it amazing what can be found on some of these sites, and I know that the world usually has better things to do than read the handwritten notes of some low-end British aristocrat no one remembers. but for me everything is another glimpse into history, no matter how insignificant others may find it.

On that subject, I recently remodeled my entire office. When we first bought this house over a decade ago I was eager to get my books up on the walls as soon as possible. I went to the nearest big box store and bought the cheapest bookcases they had. And that's what I've had since then. But I decided to change that and went on a (local) search for solid wood versions. The twist was that I didn't want them to match - I wanted random cases that had no business sharing a space. In time I had enough to cover every wall and hold my collection. I am now in love with my office. I have my special interest sections, places to line up all my knick-knacks, and a decent way to showcase my vintage typewriters (of which I have a 1905 model being restored as we "speak").

The reason I told you all of that was to expand upon keeping the things folk throw out. I am not one who collects for value. I understand doing so, but I have no desire to have the same book in several versions because the dust jacket changed or whatever. I collect books I want to read and enjoy, and I'm willing to bet the words inside my $1 bargain bin copy are exactly the same as those in a pristine one. (I'm not trying to insult that part of collecting. I've been there. I get it. I just don't do it anymore.)

I find books at sales or on websites, and often they have old price stickers or writing inside or a bumped corner or something like that. Those kinds of things just tell me part of the book's history. So, I am saving old printed words in any way I can just to make sure they don't end up in a landfill. And they're going in my library - a library that feels like an old bookstore with the mismatched bookshelves and tattered tome spines. (See how it all ties together?)

So why am I telling you all of these things you probably already know? To assure or reassure you that my passion for this has not changed or waivered in any way. Just today I spent the morning researching an old photograph from 1891 London and focusing in on one small detail. That seemingly unimportant thing allowed me to go to places I'd never been and find even more than I had hoped for. Such is research, and such is love. What I actually release for your enjoyment is but a small percentage of what I see, but that takes us back to the mining for nuggets thing. I love doing this for you and for me and for the advancement of the hobby of Sherlockiana.

But, what from here? Well, soon the world is going to be introduced to a hither-to unknown (possible) Sherlockian who did something that no one knew about until I found them in the dusty corners of time. I can't say much, but it will shake the very foundations of our accepted beliefs of who did what first and when - but in a good way. (No one will be hurt by this. It's a happy thing.) I am also considering trying a few new things on here, but without changing up what the basis is. I hate to think that content might get stale, and that fear keeps my mind working trying to come up with new ways to Keep Green The Master.

I will keep looking for chronologies. I am up to 35, and I know of another being written. I also know there are more mini-timelines out there, so the hunt will go on. I will continue to read Victorian anythings and everythings hoping for that one little tidbit in a thousand that will advance our cause. Basically, I will keep working. 

Oh, and the next installment here will be a landmark. I won't say any more, but it's special to me, and I'm trying to figure out what to do to capture it properly. Until then I will carry on studying the world and times of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson as best as I can. I hope you will stick with me and continue to enjoy my product. I'll see you next time, and as always...thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Michael Whelan & Mrs. Watson - Scandalous!

Last month we lost a giant in the Sherlockian world - Michael Whelan passed away. Mike (as I knew him) had accomplished much in our hobby, and it left indelible marks upon those who knew him and those whom he affected. His list is far too long to go into here, but the one thing I can do is introduce you to a paper that he gave to me to read in his absence years ago. I have held onto it all this time, and it seems a fitting tribute given our journey here. 

I give you the paper in its entirety and exactly as Mike wrote it. I have changed nothing. Enjoy.

"Watson's Wives & Chronological Mires"
By Michael Whelan

It is a brave or foolhardy writer who would simultaneously tackle an accepted Canonical commandment by invoking the quicksand of chronological inconsistencies. However, in this short but conclusive analysis, I hope to persuade this small audience of the validity of my thesis. 

There has been much speculation whether Watson was married twice or even three times. What has not been generally open to question was that Mary Morstan was Watson's first wife. 

It is my contention that Mary Morstan was Watson's second wife and definitive dates, not subject to multiple interpretations, will prove this analysis. First we must turn to NOBL to lay out the initial chronology of Watson's first marriage. When did this particular case take place? Most of the major chronologies place the case in early October. Most deduced the specific date to be from October 6 to October 12. Jay Peck and Les Klinger in The Date Being, at the top of each story's multiple chronologies, list the Canonical "facts" as "early October 1887." However, these eminent chronologists employ tortuous logic to push the story into 1888 so that Watson's direct quotation in NOBL of "It was a few weeks before my own marriage" would fit more neatly into meeting Mary Morstan in 1888 in SIGN. 

But even that creates severe timing problems, for if we accept the chronologists' dates of SIGN occurring between July and September of 1888, and Watson's date between October 6th and 12th of that same year - stating his marriage would occur in a few weeks - doesn't that sound a bit precipitous for a presumed bachelor? I don't think it is possible for Watson and Mary Morstan to have set a wedding date one month after meeting, much less three months. 

So what chronology makes the most sense? 1887 is the presumed year when Watson made his comment about the timing of his impending wedding. We know this because Holmes picked up a red peerage book which Holmes then quoted from that Lord St. Simon was born in 1846 and was 41 years of age. Ernest Zeisler dismisses 1887 as a simple error. Zeisler says "It must have meant 1847." Now I might believe that there are such things as printing errors, but in a book of peers I would wager not. The British are most meticulous about their titled aristocracy and Holmes' precise nature would hardly allow a slip of the tongue. So, early October - probably between the 6th and 12th, 1887 - was when Watson made his statement about his imminent marriage. 

A "few" of something is generally considered to be not many, and a small number. When I asked people to place a value on "few", most answered "three". So we can deduce that Watson's wedding would have been scheduled in early to mid-November, 1887. How, then, could he marry someone he had yet to encounter until July to September of 1888? We can agree with this 1888 dating as most chronologists did, by referring to Mary Morstan's own words in her first meeting with Holmes and Watson when describing an advertisement which appeared in the Times asking for her address, "About six years ago - to be exact, upon the fourth of May, 1882....." 

She should have been exact and accurate for she had one pearl sent to her on the May 4th date each year. As a sidebar, this would suggest that SIGN took place not between July and September, but before May 4th, for if it was that date, or later, she would have possessed a total of seven pearls. 

So if Watson had not met Mary Morstan until 1888, when he referred to his upcoming wedding in 1887 - who was the first Mrs. Watson? Let's indulge in what I'd like to refer to as logical speculation. Since Canonical facts ipso facto have led to the conclusion that Mary Morstan was not Watson's first wife, who was? We cannot stray from the Canon for in doing so we will create even more speculative analysis. 

We should be able to demonstrate that John H. Watson, M. D. had met his first wife well before his wedding date. The case in which Watson met the first Mrs. Watson would, of necessity, had to have occurred no later than 1886, and hopefully earlier, to avoid an unrealistically short or infeasible engagement period. NOBL is an early case so just a few fit this search: MUSG, STUD, SILV, BERY, YELL, SPEC, CHAS, CARD and HOUN. 

I draw your attention to BERY. Watson is fully engaged in the case. An attractive woman plays an important part as the case unfolds. The case occurs sometime between 1882 and March of 1886, according to all but one of the major chronologists - fitting our need for a respectable engagement period. As you might have guessed, I'm referring to Mary Holder, Alexander Holder's niece, who was implicated along with the notorious Sir George Burnwell in the theft of the Beryl Coronet and who fled with him to escape prosecution. 

If she fled with Burnwell how could she possibly have become Watson's first wife? I base this on two things: (1) she wrote a note to her uncle indicating remorse for her actions - she is not all bad; and (2) she later fully discovers what Holmes pointed out in the case's retrospection that Burnwell is "one of the most dangerous men in England--a ruined gambler, an absolutely desperate villain, a man without conscience" and also "a man of evil reputation among women." Obviously he was one of the many sociopaths in the Canon. 

So discovering Burnwell's true nature, she left him. She did have the semblance of a conscience but she had a streak of wildness within herself.....she was not a villainess, just a wayward girl. 

Imagine a chance Watson encounter with Mary Holder. Watson's gallantry and protectiveness would have been a factor in his attraction to a woman wronged who had escaped a spider's web. They married in November 1887 but the wild streak of Mary Holder remained and shortly thereafter Watson obtained an annulment in early 1888, leaving him a damaged but free man when he and Holmes met Mary Morstan sometime before early May. 

So, yes, there were two Mrs. Watsons and after all these years of endless speculation as to the identity of the second Mrs. Watson, and countless toasts, we may take some comfort in learning that Mary Morstan, in fact, was the second Mrs. Watson. 

So, what are we to make of Mike's theory? I have to step away from it as I am of the opinion that Watson was only married once - sometime around 1903. (If you want to know more, I am publishing my theory in The Sherlockian Chronologist Guild newsletter TIMELINE. I can tell you how to get that fine publication if you wish.)

I know many different suspects have been named when it comes to who the other mysterious wives may have been - basically every woman in The Canon. (Except Mrs. Hudson, I think.) However, it's all speculation. Sixty cases just doesn't give us all the information we need to construct any kind of a exhaustive history of these men's lives. There just isn't enough data.

Several more papers could be written just off the ideas, theories, and postulations in this one, and I'm certain that I will refer back to it many times in future posts, but for now - in the interest of space - I will leave the debating up to you and your thoughts.

I'll miss seeing Mike at Sherlockian gatherings, and I am heartbroken for his family and other friends. We have truly lost someone that was important, outstanding, and wonderful. His memory will live on, and I will keep this original piece of his safely tucked away in my files.

Thank you for indulging me and allowing me to give a small tip o' the hat to my friend. I appreciate your time. See you soon, and as always...thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

They Trusted Watson...But Got Different Results!

It's always fun to compare things. I do it as often as I can whether it be foods or pens/pencils or pants or chronologies. When pondering my blog post this month I decided to do so and compare the two timelines that purport to follow and trust Watson's word to the letter. My database is done alphabetically, and I found that the very first on the list - 'The Abbey Grange' (ABBE) -  presented a problem right up front. So, we're going to look at what I found with that case. Let's get to it.

The two chronologists we'll be looking at are Paul Thomas Miller and his book Watson Does Not Lie,  and Charles Layng's The Game Is Afoot. I was not aware of Mr. Layng's book until I did a blog post about Mr. Miller's book back in November 2019. (You can read that here.) Both men talk about their dedication to John Watson's word in their introductions, and both come up with timelines based on their devotion to it. Happily, I was lucky enough to find that the entries for ABBE were short in both books. So short, in fact, that I can reproduce them here. 

Mr. Layng says:

'The Adventure of the Abbey Grange' February, 1897
'It was a bitterly cold and frosty morning towards the end of  the winter of 1897. Mary Fraser had come to England in June, 1895, and met Sir Eustace Brackenstall in July "only eighteen months ago," as her maid testifies. She married him in January, 1896, and had been married just over a year, which places the beginning of this adventure in February.'

Mr. Miller says:

'The Adventure of the Abbey Grange (ABBE)
First publicly published: September 1904
Main action: 18 January 1897 to 20 January 1897
'"It was on a bitterly cold and frosty morning during the winter of '97" when this story gets going. Most of the rest of the dating is based around the regrettable decision of Miss Mary Fraser to marry Sir Eustace Brackenstall.
Mary's maid tells us that "we met [Sir Eustace], only eighteen months ago," when Mary "had only just arrived in London...We arrived in June, and it was July. They were married in January of last year." If they had known each other eighteen months since they met in early July, then the action of the case is taking place in January 1897.
From there we need only look for remarkably bitter weather for a January and we find it once again in the Meteorological Office reports: "Lowest reading occurred...mostly between the 17th and 19th." Making 18 January 1897 the coldest day.'

Chronologists are divided about the dating of this case - but just barely. No one disagrees with 1897, and all (but one) go with January or February. Those with specific dates seem to go with weather reports, and that's very acceptable. However, the division comes from taking liberties with the "about a year" and "toward the end of winter of 1897." Internal evidence tells us that we are definitely dealing with the first months of that year, though one chronologist (Vincent Delay) takes it more literally and goes with December 1897. (We won't be tackling that this time.)

But our purposes here this time are the disparities between two people who say they've taken Watson wholly at his word and trust him, and somehow still come to different conclusions. So, how did that happen? Well, let's take a look at what each wrote.

Mr. Layng takes his liberties with the line 'She married him in January, 1896, and had been married just over a year...' ABBE was published in 1904, so I pulled down a copy of it from that year just to check the original wording. To back it up I looked for it in an actual newspaper from the time and checked it, as well. Nowhere did I find the phrase "just over a year." It was always "about a year." Since Mr. Layng didn't bother to narrow it down to a specific date it means he didn't bother with the weather reports and simply used his own incorrect logic to justify his month as February.

Mr. Miller takes his liberties with the 'eighteen months'. It's one of the biggest challenges for timeline constructors to try and interpret what Watson meant with his time phrases, but 'eighteen months' seems pretty straightforward. However, does he mean an actual eighteen months, or approximately eighteen months? Since most every chronologist sticks with the first two months of 1897 it would seem they all trust the math, and think 'eighteen months' means just that. It appears, then, that Mr. Miller has to be given credit for trusting Watson's word to the letter. Gotta commend him for sticking to his guns.

I could go with Mr. Miller on this one, but I still cringe a bit at any text that doesn't use words like "exactly" or "precisely" when talking about dates or timelines. (I know not many do, but it sure would help from time to time.) He looks at them as if they do, in fact, mean exactly what they say, and that usually doesn't work in our beloved Holmes stories.

I might also go with Mr. Layng, but not because I think he got to the possibly correct answer the way he did, but because "toward the end of the winter of 1897" certainly doesn't sound like January to me. In fact, by then it would have only aged less than one month. (It works a little better if you use the meteorological calendar where winter starts on December 1 and ends on February 28, but I doubt that's what Watson meant.) So, February works better.

Brad Keefauver likes February 15, and says that the whole meeting between Lady Brackenstall and Jack Croker was pre-planned for around Valentine's Day since their love was so strong. I like that, and it is clever, but don't know if I would use it myself. (Two others also like that date, but both admit that Mr. Keefauver's timeline factored heavily into theirs.)

So, it all hinges on when "the end of the winter" actually falls for each person. Too often in The Canon we come across vague or imprecise date range phrases and mentions, and while it kind of works here (for one person), you will definitely find folks using them to their advantages when they want, and ignoring them when they don't. It keeps the chronological fire stoked, and always will.

Well, we come to the end of the winter of this entry. It was fun writing this, and I could make a lot more posts based on this same premise between these two men, but I'll try and spread them out. I love when you make it this far down. See you next time, and as always...thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The Doctor...And The Doctor

Being gifted a book from a fellow book lover is a thing of pure joy. When others know where your passions lie and notify you when a tome suddenly jumps out of nowhere, it keeps the sunshine around for a little longer. This happened to me recently, and I'd like to talk about how this non-chronological title still holds interest for our journey here.

A friend of mine at the VA goes to a lot of book sales, and she will contact me when she finds something I might be interested in. She made a find not long ago on a relative's bookshelves, however, and let me know immediately. It's titled A Doctor Enjoys Sherlock Holmes. It was written by a man named Edward J. Van Liere in 1959. I was not familiar with it, and was thrilled. Turned out to be a first edition, too, but my friend was good enough to just hand it over even after finding this out. (Book people are the best.) 

I've read it, and found that Dr. Van Liere talks more about Dr. Watson than Sherlock Holmes. I was stymied, though, to find him talking about different medical procedures and findings but without really tackling how they might actually fit into the timeline of The Canon. He references poisons, endocrinology, cardiology, genetics, surgery, and a number of other medical topics, but makes little to no attempt to place them into a Victorian timeline that could affect a case's dating. In fact, he goes entire chapters talking about medical advances without listing a year for them at all.

It's the first chapter, though, that may hold at least some interest. To a chronologist, weather in The Canon is a very important aspect of creating a date for a case. A large number of them have us looking at that very subject for help. Here again, Dr. Van Liere doesn't try and do anything with it, but merely talks about how much Watson talked about it, and how it may have affected their moods and the number of people coming through the door. So, let's see what he has to say about it, and compare it to what we know.

In the very first paragraph he says, "As far as I know, no one has emphasized the numerous references to the weather by Dr. Watson." Remember that this was several years before William S. Baring-Gould published The Annotated Sherlock Holmes and referenced the weather in just about every other sentence! The second paragraph talks (in part) about 'Thor Bridge' (THOR) when he mentions Watson noticing the leaves "being whisked away from the plane tree...which graces their back yard." This curiosity doesn't really help in the dating of THOR, rarely gets any attention from chronologists, and merely helps confirm the time of year. Personally, I think more work needs to be done on this passing remark as I think there's more to it. Maybe one day.

(The London Plane Tree - a close relative of the American Sycamore.)

He then speaks of The Hound of the Baskervilles (HOUN), but smartly doesn't try any dating. He only talks about the dreariness of the weather in it. The it's on to the rains mentioned in 'The Golden Pince-Nez' (GOLD) and 'The Resident Patient' (RESI). In that case we find "It had been a close and rainy day in October..." No argument from anyone on the month (many on the year, though), but newcomer A. R. Colpo does say it was late November. He bases his findings on the time of the sunrise Watson mentions, and since he does agree with 1881, he says the sunrise time indicates late November, not October. 

From there he looks at "bleak autumnal evenings" in 'The Noble Bachelor' (NOBL). After that he goes into fog and all its problems in 'The Copper Beeches' (COPP) and The Sign of [the] Four (SIGN). But, in SIGN, he misses an opportunity to tackle one of the longest-standing chronological snags in The Canon. He quotes Watson with, "It was a September evening...and a dense drizzly fog lay upon the great city." The whole September thing throws a real pickle in the works as earlier in SIGN we hear it's July. So, chronologists are spilt - some say it was July, some say September, and some say it could be either. (Two say April, but that's too deep to get into here. Maybe another post.)

He keeps with the fog in 'The Bruce-Partington Plans' (BRUC), and the switches to winter weather and all it brings in 'The Blue Carbuncle' (BLUE). We then find him discussing 'The Abbey Grange' (ABBE), and refers to Watson describing "an adventure which took place on a bitterly cold morning during the winter of '97." All chronologists agree with winter 1897, but the question is which winter? The one at the beginning of the year? Or the end? Nearly all like the beginning, and some refer only to "winter 1897" without being more specific, but one person thinks it was the end of 1897.

He sticks with winter and talks about 'Charles Augustus Milverton' (CHAS) and 'The Beryl Coronet' (BERY), but merely adds them and their wintery descriptions to the lines about ABBE. From there he starts in on spring and includes 'The Copper Beeches' (COPP), 'The Speckled Band' (SPEC), and 'Wisteria Lodge' (WIST), but then Dr. Van Liere makes a reference to His Last Bow (LAST) which is technically correct, but looks odd. Immediately after the line about WIST, he says...

"And in His Last Bow, Watson writes that he had recorded in his notebook that, in the latter part or March in the year 1892, it was a bleak and windy day."

Now, it sounds like he's referencing the wrong story, but he's really not. WIST does appear in the book His Last Bow, but it's hard to ferret out which he means here as he uses italics for even the short story titles. I'm using bold font for the short stories just to make them stand out, and italics for the book titles, but he doesn't. So...sort of an error. Sort of.

Staying in spring but switching to good weather, he lists COPP and SPEC again, but adds 'The Three Garridebs' (3GAR) to the mix. After that he talks about the summer heat in 'The Greek Interpreter' (GREE) and 'The Mazarin Stone' (MAZA), adds in 'The Cardboard Box' (CARD) and then a correct reference to LAST when Watson talks about it being a "hot night on the second of August." The next section gets into barometric pressure being spoken of in 'The Boscombe Valley Mystery' (BOSC).

Finally, he asks the question - "One might well ask why Dr. Watson emphasizes the state of the weather so often?" He lists the following reasons:
1. "To make the setting of his stories more realistic." (This tells me Dr. Van Liere may not have been a complete believer in The Game.)
2. "To take up space in the manuscript." (I'm not sure what to think of this one. Did Watson get paid by the word? There was no set word count for the cases, and Holmes hated the way Watson padded his writings with what he saw as unnecessary fluff, so this one leaves me hanging.)
3. "To use the subject of the weather as an excuse for some fine writing." (Again, Holmes hated that kind of stuff, and Watson would only inflame him more if he did it, so is this a valid reason?)
4. "To reveal Watson's little-suspected love of nature." (Hmm...maybe.)

Dr. Van Liere goes on to examine each of the above. For the first one he reasons that other writers like to make bad weather go hand in hand with dirty deeds, but Watson doesn't too often. He does state that Watson did "occasionally take advantage of unusual atmospheric conditions to make the story more exciting." He cites how he and Holmes used the fog and low visibility on the moors in HOUN to attempt to catch Stapleton red-handed.

He then dismisses the second reason stating that Watson wouldn't pad his manuscripts. He also discounts reason three, but does offer an example a rare moment when Watson does use weather to beautify a story by mentioning the line from 'The Five Orange Pips' (FIVE) about how "the wind cried and sobbed like a child in the chimney."

He finishes by saying that physicians who make rounds and house calls take little notice in the weather as it doesn't stop them from doing their duty. He cites 'The Crooked Man' (CROO) with 'When your round is a short one you walk, and when it is a long one you use a hansom.' He concludes by saying that reason #4 - Watson loved the weather - as being the most likely. He says of him that he is "a lover of nature and one who could see the charm in all her moods."

The weather, as we know, is a HUGE part of decoding the dates for the cases. In fact, it may be the main one. But, as with all evidence, it isn't without fault, and oft times it seems other information goes against it even though Watson may have told us about what exactly was happening in the skies on a particular day. We have to allow for interpretation on his part. When he says sunrise, does he mean the recorded moment the sun came up, or the moment Watson first notices the sunlight? Same goes for sundown or dusk. Is what he sees and writes a given for the whole night? Or do storms move one, or heat slack off, or sunlight get blocked by the clouds for a bit? Do we take what he says for the whole day, of just the moment he looked up? It just goes on like that. And always will.

Well, another month means another post, and I am happy to have brought you this one. Hope you enjoyed it. I'll see you soon, and as always...thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

The Other Annotated. (No, Not That One.)

A journey through the shelves here in my office is what inspired this post. We all have those books we pick up way more often than others, and some that lay forgotten. What follows is some thoughts about a lesser known annotated version that sits silently by waiting for its day.

For me, anything with annotations or footnotes or highly-detailed indexes are things to enjoy. You can often find the best information in them - usually the interesting side-stories that aren't as colorful or popular as the main piece. I can remember going through books and just reading those parts. My thirst for that outside knowledge has always been a thing for me.

What caused me to write this, though, is the existence of an annotated volume that some may not even realize exists, or that they may have on their shelves and not know what lies inside. 

Published in 1968 by Classic Press, with artwork by one Don Irwin, the Casebook of Sherlock Holmes is not terribly valuable even in perfect condition. I think I got mine off a dollar cart in a now-gone bookstore here in town. It's part of a twelve-volume set of educational books, and the Holmes edition was #7 in the collection. One of the best parts about them was that they were "complete and unabridged" according to the back cover. (Yes, it really is in all lower case letters.)

Mine is so clean that it still has the EDUCATOR CLASSIC LIBRARY tear-off mail-in postcard attached inside the front cover. Boy, those were the days, weren't they? For a few bucks kids could mail in a card and get wonderful books delivered to their door. Paper routes, allowances, baby-sitting, lawn-mowing...whatever it took to gather the cash and get a parent to take care of the rest. Then the painful wait. Still, so worth it.

This 281-page monster, and the others, were meant for children. It looks kind of like a big hardback comic book. and has that familiar look that "learning books" had at the time. In the back on page 273 is a section called Backword. (Well, the illustration for the section is on page 273. The actual wording begins on 274.) This part is a series of short pieces about Conan Doyle, detective work in general, forensics, and a little about Holmes himself. It definitely isn't done from the standpoint of The Game, but it's quite well done for young minds.

The title of this book is a bit misleading, but then again it isn't. The Case-book of Sherlock Holmes from the 1920's contains none of the stories here. This Casebook covers A Study in Scarlet (STUD), 'The Speckled Band' (SPEC),  'A Scandal in Bohemia' (SCAN), 'The Blue Carbuncle' (BLUE), and The Hound of the Baskervilles (HOUN). SCAN, SPEC, and BLUE are in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes from 1892, while STUD and HOUN are novels. Where this book doesn't actually mislead, though, is that it's not called THE Case-book, but Casebook. It's a small picking point, but one that die-hard Sherlockians/Holmesians may find troubling.

What I appreciate about this series is how it taught without talking down. The annotations in it can tackle some unusual subjects: 'prognathous jaw' on page 21, 'jarvey' on page 67, 'morocco casket' on page 122, but others look at the standards like hansom cabs and gasogenes. There's one on page 167 which says - 

beard: Investigators seldom rely on disguises any more. It takes an expert make-up man to produce a good disguise. Modern investigators rely more on "blending into the background" - being as ordinary-looking as possible.

What I like about that is that it could have said something like - beard: what grows on a man's face
It didn't, but instead goes into the detecting side of the term and really paints an image for a young person's mind. And the book is littered with these. Happily, all of the books in the series are annotated, so that's twelve nice-sized volumes to get in some great reading and awesome extra details. I don't know much about the organization that put these together, but from the Board of Consultants list in the front you can tell that education was certainly the purpose.

As I said, all annotations are useful, even if they contain nothing chronological. Anything that leads me to research a paper is going to take me into a timeline of some sort. I've said before that anything you have to look into about The Canon from artificial kneecaps to gas lamps has a history, and that history only serves to help date a case. However, this book does contain several annotations that are date related. 

Page 73: this note talks about 'the regency' and mentions the years of '1811 to 1820'. This one gets a pass because it's not helpful to us chronologically.
Page 99: this is talking about the month of August, but only about why it's the eighth month and how it got its name. Again...pass.
Page 144: here it mentions Michaelmas and its date of September 29th. Since the holiday is mentioned just in passing in HOUN it gets a pass here, too.
Page 193: I only include this in the interest of thoroughness. It talks about 'neolithic man' and how he likely existed 'possibly 10,000 or so years ago'. Pass.
Page 163: here we have a late Victorian year listed. It's talking about fountain pens and says that they were invented in 1884, but tells us the pen used in the story 'was a dip pen with a steel nib'. Almost...but pass.

The interesting ones are the following. First, page 39 of STUD:
continental governments: A series of revolutions had taken place in Europe in 1848. At this time - 1878 - European governments were still a little nervous.

The publishers fell into a bit of a trap here by saying that it was 1878. It's true that 1878 is one of the first words Watson says in all of The Canon, but he's only mentioning something that happened then - not that it was 1878. (By the way, calling a year like 1878 a "word" seems very strange to me. It's almost like the question of whether a hotdog is a sandwich.)

Here's the other on page 183 of HOUN: 
electric lamps: This was in 1888, and putting in electric lights was a major engineering feat. One problem: no power outside London. Young [Sir Henry] Baskerville may have planned his own electric generator system.

It seems the editors were saying that HOUN was in 1888. If that's the case, then they must have gotten that information from somewhere else as the text itself does not tell us specifically it's that year. In fact, the very first paragraph of the novel gives us the year 1884, and then a couple of pages later it says that year was "five years ago." Quite the pickle.
The idea of Sir H.B. putting in his own generator has all kinds of possibilities for research, and for that I thank the publishers of these books.

So, there's a look at one of the less-known annotated versions. Chances are you have one on your shelves somewhere, and that you may already know it has annotations, but perhaps you don't look upon it as an annotated version. I know I didn't.

I hope you enjoyed this. I enjoyed putting it together for you, and taking a look at what it had to offer for our goals here. You know how much it means to me when you make it all the way to the end. I'll see you next time, and as always...thanks for reading.

Friday, July 30, 2021

A Canonical-Corbett Crossover

It's always a wonderful moment when you find a common connection between two (or more) of your passions. That happened to me not long ago, and it's something that I thought worthy enough to share. It deals with Holmes and Baker Street and all that, even though it may not actually be chronological. Still, it's very cool, so let's talk about it.

Lately I've been exploring the possibility of new hobby-istic ventures in my life. Sherlockian chronology will always be one of my biggies, but I have other things which get my blood rushing. One of them is the disappearance of a once-very-important American figure. His name was Boston Corbett.

Mr. Corbett was actually born in London in 1832 under the name of Thomas Corbett. His middle initial can be found as either H. or P., but unfortunately I have never seen a consensus for which is right. I lean toward H. as it appears in some of the best-researched books I have on him. Even if it is H., though, we have no idea what it stood for, so the point is moot. His family moved to America in 1840 and settled in New York City. Without going into his life too much, know that he found his way to Boston, got saved, and changed his name to the city's name as a tribute to his faith.

His life takes a number of incredible turns, but what he's remembered for most is the shooting and killing of John Wilkes Booth - the man who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. After that incident his life was never the same, and in his bid for anonymity, he disappeared in 1882. I could spend my life tracking him down, and I'm making plans to do just that. But, we're not here to talk about him - we're here to talk about his father Bartholomew.

Bartholomew (of which there are no extant images) and his son Thomas (Boston) were both hatters, and we are all familiar with the term "mad hatter." It comes from the mercury fumes they worked with in the hat-making process, and it made people insane. Neither man escaped this, and both suffered from it the rest of their lives. While doing research about Boston, I stumbled across an article in the British Newspaper Archive which mentioned a man named Bartholomew Corbett, and discovered that it was talking about Boston's dad. Seems ol' Bart had moved back to London at some point, but continued to have severe brain problems until his death. Below is what I found.

I dug back into the papers at the time and found longer articles about the incident. Basically, in October of 1865, Mr. Corbett's landlady was concerned after not seeing him for some time. She called the Police, and they broke into his apartment and found him in a bad state of health and mind. He was transported to a local hospital, but was not expected to make it through the night.

Now, where this intersects with Sherlock Holmes is the location of Mr. Corbett's flat - 41, Chapel-street, Edgware-road, Marylebone. That address is less than half a mile from the believed location of 221b, but no matter where we place The Holy Flat, it's still about one half mile away. Mr. Corbett was taken to the St. Marylebone Workhouse Infirmary. This is mere blocks away from where Holmes and Watson would take up residence in 1881. The map here shows Chapel Street in the lower left corner with a line going to the Workhouse. The circled area is Upper Baker Street/York Place.

I realize, of course, that this doesn't have a true crossover to Our Heroes as it happened 15/16 years before they even met, but it still warms my heart to know that two of my interests converge like this. Unfortunately, I haven't found anything more about Bartholomew's time at the Infirmary or his death. It likely came quickly, and he was probably buried on the grounds, but that will take a lot more research (which I'm very willing to do).

If I were to try and titillate others who are in the Sherlockian hobby, I would point out that if you cross over Edgware Road from Chapel Street you'll find yourself on Praed Street. Solar Pons fans will feel a tingle in their brain from that one. (I would also like to remind them that I have Luther Norris's deerstalker. 😁 It's on me in the picture below - one which is rather old.)

The only way I can make this into a chronological post is to note that a lot of changes happened to the Workhouse and its grounds during the time Holmes and Watson were fighting bad guys. In 1888 a women's wing was built on the until-then all-male site, and many structural and design changes were made in the following decade. Holmes desired an exact knowledge of London and its environs, so he would have known about the changes, especially being so close to home. Dr. Watson would have kept up on medical practices and procedures for such an organization, and as the Workhouse Infirmary was written about in the Lancet numerous times, he would've read about it. This, however, is as good as it's going to get.

I have gathered a lot of information about the Corbett's and what became of them, but had to gloss over much of it here in the interest of space. Should you ever want to talk about them, Boston himself moreover, I am always willing to do so. Holmes is going to remain at the front of my chat line, but I love getting a chance to share things about my other passions. Soon I hope to have a new avenue in which to relate them to the world. So, I'm gonna go work on that.

I'll see you next time. I love it when you make it all the way to the end. Be well, stay safe, and as always...thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Did I...Or Didn't I?

I'm one of those people who has the unfortunate distinction of being the last to catch on to something fairly obvious. When I mention to others that I just noticed something, I often get those looks that tell me they already did...years ago. However, I'm not swayed by this. Often my brain is working on something else, and sometimes the plain facts about a subject slide right by me. (I'll just think of it as charming.) Why am I telling you this? Well, because this might be one of those times.
What I noticed when I was scrolling through my Sherlockian chronology database's Date Spreadsheet one day was the placement for 'The Final Problem' (FINA) in the timelines. See, each chronologist gets a full page, and each page has two columns just to make it fit and easier to read. (For me, anyway.) I saw that FINA was almost always at the bottom of the first column, or the top of the next. That means it was #30 or #31 on the list chronologically for that person. Here's an example from the online list of Craig Janacek:
As you can see from the arrows, FINA is #30, and 'The Empty House' (EMPT) is #31. What strikes me as curious about this that almost every chronologist places these two at the midway point in the career of Holmes. FINA was the 26th case Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (ACD herein) published, but we know he didn't think it was going to be the halfway point. He had only been writing about Holmes for six years when he killed him off, and never thought he'd bring him back and then write about him until 1927 (though more sporadically).
ACD didn't really give a care about details and timelines, and couldn't have imagined that people like me would be sitting here typing about the chronology of the cases so many decades later. So, it just an odd coincidence? Or, do chronologists try and place it as the halfway point? Now, I could go through all of the books again and see if someone says they did, but somehow I doubt everyone did. 

Chronologically, it is almost at the halfway point if you consider Dr. Watson's statement about Holmes being in practice for 23 years - a statement made in the penultimately published case 'The Veiled Lodger' (VEIL). And since ACD did date FINA specifically as being in the spring of 1891, he might have done some basic calculation when he wrote that in VEIL. Still, the timeline of the stories didn't matter to him, so that argues that he didn't know. And...and...and...VEIL's action is placed by Watson as 1896, so ACD didn't think the case was set at the end of Holmes's career, thus he couldn't have done that math! 

So, what do the chronologists themselves say? Where does FINA fall in each of their timelines? Let's take a look, shall we? I can tell you that of the 33 chronologies I have, three of them present a problem - they're incomplete. The works of Carey Cummings, Ian McQueen, and John Trumbull are not finished. The first two never will be, but Mr. Trumbull only has a couple of stories to go, and his placement of FINA seems to fall in line with everybody else despite this. (He has it as #31.) As soon as he finishes his list, I will update my files, but I doubt FINA will change much. 

Craig Marinaro has it in the 25th spot.
Martin Dakin in the 27th.
A. R. Colpo in the 28th.
Mike Ashley, T. S. Blakeney, Gavin Brend, David Marcum, and Toshio Suzuki have it in the 29th slot.
H. W. Bell, the duo of Bradley & Sarjeant, Roger Butters, Steve Englehart, Henry Folsom, the aforementioned Craig Janacek, June Thomson, and Ernest Zeisler place it in the 30th spot.
William S. Baring-Gould's Annotated (his last version), Jean-Pierre Crauser, John Hall, Brad Keefauver, Charles Layng, Chris Miller, the mysterious online blogger The Norwood Builder, Robert Pattrick, Svend Petersen, Edgar W. Smith, and Mr. Trumbull have it in 31st.
Baring-Gould's first attempt put it at 32nd, as does Paul Thomas Miller.
Vincent Delay likes the 33rd.
And Jay F. Christ rounds it out with the 34th spot. (It should be known that he places FINA in 1893, thus the lower [or higher] number.)

So, why am I trying to place it in the midway point of Holmes's career? It doesn't have to be, and nothing about it tells us it should be, so perhaps I'm trying to make it something it's not. If that's the case, then it's just a curiosity. I can live with that, but it still strikes me as odd. (And since I am the type who notices things waaaaay after everyone else does, there might also be a known explanation somewhere I've simply missed. I can live with that, too. I'm used to it.)

I'll be very interested to hear what you all have to say about this. Maybe I'm just pecking away here for nothing, but hopefully someone out there will think I found something kind of interesting.

Again, let me know what you think. I truly want to know. Embarrass me if you have to. I'm a big boy - I can handle it. Besides, you all are a large part of the reason I do this. I'll see you next time, and as always...thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

All Quotes Lead To Sherlock Holmes

Today I was reading something completely unrelated to Sherlock Holmes, and a line in it caught my eye. It said: 
"The trick to approaching any monumental and controversial aspect of history is to find an access point, a facet that provides an entrance that might not have been used before or affords a perspective that endows the subject matter with a fresh point of view."
It prompted me to put away the subject I was going to write about this month and look at this very thing in relation to Sherlock Holmes and Canonical chronology.

Now, I realize that the statement above may not be new to some. We all know when writing something that this is what we try and do, but when I read it I saw it from a fresh perspective. Then I started thinking about how it applies to our hobby. So let's talk about it.

When you start thinking about Holmes and Watson and The Canon, certain images or ideals enter your mind. I think most people immediately imagine the deerstalker hat, magnifying glass, and big hanging pipe. The fun thing about the pipe and hat is that they're not actually canonical. (The magnifying glass is.) The deerstalker is never actually mentioned by name (for some reason), and the pipe was the brainchild of early stage Holmes portrayers. Still, the icons are instantly recognized the world over, and likely will never change.

But, what about the subjects that people tackle when it comes to Holmes? Well, I haven't actually done ANY research on this, but I'd be willing to go out on a limb and say that the following are near the top of the list:
Holmes and Jack the Ripper (without a doubt)
Holmes and drug use
Watson's wives
Holmes and Moriarty (the whole good vs. evil thing)
Holmes and his religious (or spiritual) views
I've written about some of these, but the trick was to do the thing mentioned above - find a new angle.

What about in the subset of chronology, though? Well, one of the above applies, and is probably number one on the list - Watson's wives. This is the sticking point for many-a-paper and always will be. Figuring out the number of wives doesn't directly affect a whole chronology, but it does a fair chunk of it. What else? What other things can one almost certainly be assured of finding if they pick up a chronology or book, or open a chronology blog? Well, here's a list after the wives thing:
Watson's handwriting
Typesetter or editor errors
How to explain the dating of 'Wisteria Lodge' (WIST)
The maddening aspects of 'The Mazarin Stone' (MAZA)
The pearls in The Sign of [the] Four (SIGN)
Weather reports
The date problems in 'The Red-Headed League' (REDH)
(among many others)
Whether A Study in Scarlet (STUD) took place in 1881 or not
There are many more examples, but these are some of the biggies.

Recently a new chronological attempt came across our desks, and those of us who can't get enough of Sherlockian timelines ate it up. It was quickly realized, however, that once again nothing was truly new. Maybe a couple of cases had some original thinking, but for the most part it was another example of why chronology books don't sell in the millions. There just wasn't enough new reasoning or material to make it exciting. (I'm refraining from mentioning the name or author.)

By far the most unique perspectives I've come across are those of Brad Keefauver. I've said before that I don't agree with every date he chose, but his ways of getting to those dates is almost always different and unusual. I like that. You can read his stuff here.

I try my best to come up with new ways of examining the possible timeline of Holmes and Watson and their place in the world, but it isn't easy. My purpose here (in case you didn't know or forgot) is to connect The Terrific Two to their world and time by looking at what was happening around them in London and the world during the time they were chasing bad guys. If I find an article about new telegraph offices being opened somewhere in London in 1888 or whenever, I go to the database and look for cases that might have been affected by this. If I read about a new type of Hansom cab introduced to the public, I look for cases where this might apply. I am constantly looking into the day-to-day activities of the world they lived in and ramming them into it.

Now, the usual topics that I listed above are one of the main reasons I don't have my own chronology. Yes, I have a partial one, but stopped more than halfway through the stories when it occurred to me that making one would take a lifetime because we just don't know everything about everything, and can't possibly be 100% certain our work is definitive. (Maybe others can do this, but I can't.) It is possible to date some cases with comfort, but not many. The others are the reason we have so many different chronologies. The same problems in the same cases keep getting the same treatments, and we wind up with basically more of what we already have too much of.

In essence, if we're going to look at The Canon as a record of actual events (The Great Game), then we need to do just that. If Watson tells us he and Holmes saw a particular performer at a particular venue, then every effort must be made to nail down the history of that performer and that venue. This will help confirm or eliminate a clue to the true date of the case. If something turns out not to be a solid fact, even though Watson said it was, then we have to try and figure out why he told us that - but not in some flimsy excuse-making way. Do this with 60 cases and mix it with a regular life with a job and family and pets and responsibilities and stuff, and it takes a while. (I would rather not put out a product that I didn't give my all to, so I do what I can here to help out those who are putting proverbial pen to paper and offering their findings.)

So, those are my thoughts on the subject. Now, I realize that sometimes this blog gets away from good old fashioned chronological work and becomes more of a 'what's happening in the chronological world' kind of thing, but I promise it won't be every time. I really enjoy digging into my databases and pulling out facts and curiosities and details, so don't despair - we'll get back to the roots often enough.

The blog count, and number of Followers, continues to grow, so it means people are still interested. That's a good thing. Hopefully it will continue and we can spend more time together. In the meantime, should any of you have any questions or need to access some info in my files, let me know. It's all available, and I don't mind sharing. I'll see you next time, and as always...thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The "Birth" Of A Chronology

Last month I lamented the tale of the "death" of a chronology. In short, after further examining one of my thirty beloved timelines I found one of them was not what it appeared to be, and had to take it off the list. But, from that death came new life. Let me explain...

The Aimee Shu chronology was one I always looked at with suspicious eyes, and finally I was able to satisfy that suspicion. It was actually just a re-print of William S. Baring-Gould's infamous chronology, but errors on the original webpage had convinced me it was a fresh take. When it was discovered (by me) not to be, I deleted it and now have something fun to share with my grandchildren. (Dreaming, here. Leave me alone.)

Within a day or two word came from another chronologist, Brad Keefauver, of a chronology by someone with whom I was not familiar. Back in 2009/10 this person, who is a world-famous writer named Steve Englehart, had compiled his own timeline, and he and Brad had corresponded about it. I didn't know it (or he) existed, and I've found since then that we chronologists should talk a lot more because we're all pulling dust bunnies from the chronological bins of Sherlockian history and surprising each other with them.

Yes, that Steve Englehart!

Brad sent me a copy of the work, and I sat down to study it. Turned out to be well thought out and interesting, but had a little curiosity at the end. Brad and I talked about it, but without conclusion. So, I tried to find a way to get in touch with the author. One of those ways was to use the email address off the now 11/12 year old pages I'd been sent. It was a long shot, but...

It worked! The guy was still using the same one! We "talked" a number of times, and I asked him about the curiosity. He responded by sending me the absolute final version. That would answer all questions. Within a week, though, he'd gotten the chronology bug again, and contacted me to let me know he'd revised his decade-old timeline, and sent me that version. I happily added all of his info to my database.

Then, a few weeks later, a brand new and unknown chronology effort popped up. A Sherlockian, whom I had never heard of, put his book on Amazon, and our world got ahold of the info. A. R. Colpo had undertaken the task and created a new (and interesting) timeline. I had his book a few days later and began devouring it that night.

While reading his book something caught my eye. I remember saying, "!" out loud, and my wife rolling her eyes at my excitement. In a footnote on page 4 was a name I somewhat recognized, and a book title I also somewhat recognized. Turns out a copy was on one of my bookshelves. Thumbing through it made me realize that this book, Sherlock Holmes Detected by Ian McQueen, contained a chronology. It's not a full one, though - nine cases are not dated. Still, it's a 51-case chronology. That's good enough for me. (That leads me to a future post idea of mini-chronologies. I have to do more talking with Mr. Keefauver on that first, though.)

So, after the crash and burn of a chronology, I suddenly had three new ones. Talk about redemption. My database is quite large, and it will take some time to not only record all of the info, but also to dissect and ingest it. My Sherlockian feet were just above the ground most of the time, and I looked forward to doing the "work" on these new timelines.

At work one recent evening (I'm a 2nd-shifter) I got an email notification. It was from another chronologist - one whom I referenced many times as having a chronology he hadn't shared with anyone. Well, David Marcum was in a sharing mood, and attached to the email was his timeline. I was thrilled, but didn't have time to look at it until I got home (which I did before I even took my shoes off). Now I had a fourth one to work on, study, and enjoy, and truly looked forward to doing so.

As of writing this I have them all included in my system. One of the things I look for are dates that are unusual or eye-catching. I can say that Mr. McQueen's dates stay pretty much within the ranges that are accepted in most chronological circles. He doesn't stray far from the "norm." Mr. Marcum's are pretty standard, but there are some fights with convention in there, and I look forward to many conversations with him about some of his ideas. The Englehart work has some interesting dates, and I love contacting him with questions and getting his chronological dander up. The Colpo book has some fascinating thoughts, and I hope to be able to talk to A. R. soon and chat about them. (They're explained in the book, of course, but sometimes new nuggets of info are waiting to be asked about.)

From this point on I will refer to 2021's fourth month as "Amazing April" because of the number of chronologies that came to light. Not since I started all of this and began recording dates from the back of The Sherlock Holmes Reference Library have I had so many to enter at one time. It's a good problem to have, and I love having so much work to do. It's still a passion, and probably always will be.

On a side note: I was contacted by a Sherlockian from overseas and asked my opinion about which chronology I felt stood above all others. I had a tough time with that, but I was able to give an answer. I explained that Baring-Gould was still the standard, but that I thought the E. B. Zeisler timeline was superior. I also added that the Martin Dakin one was just as amazing. In the end I recommended Zeisler, but felt bad (almost immediately) about doing so. I do not want anyone to feel slighted. I have read all of the chronologies and can remember being spellbound by Zeisler's incredible research and explanations. Unlike J. F. Christ, Zeisler doesn't paint himself into bad corners that he has to find awful ways to get out of. (I was unsure of Zeisler for years, but have changed my mind. I even stated on my I Hear Of Sherlock Everywhere interview that I liked Christ's but not Zeisler's. I have completely flip-flopped on that. You can hear that here.)

Brad Keefauver's list has some of the most creative (and thus very respected by me) ideas behind some of his dates, but I find myself wincing at some of the others he has. I do like The Brad, but can't accept his timeline completely. (He knows this, and expects it, I think.) The new Colpo effort made me recoil a few times just in the first chapters, and I will need time to try and get behind his way of thinking. Zeisler is thorough and understandable, and while I don't agree with every single date he has, I still think his endeavor is worthy of first (or near first) place.

Well, that was a mouthful. Or post-ful. Lots going on as I used to say in my DJ'ing days. (That usually meant not enough was going on to talk about, but you had to sell it to the listeners.) With the new Chronologist Guild, the total revamping of my database, new chronologies coming in or being discovered, and interesting ideas about this subset of the hobby being bandied about, it's been busy. I love it, but even I have to walk away from it for a bit sometimes and de-Sherlock. 

I can't even imagine what May's post will be about - I have about a dozen possibilities right now. Either way, I'm always happy when you make it until the end. I'll see you again next month on here (and weekly on Facebook), and as always...thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The Death Of A Chronology

It it with a heavy heart that I must report a death. One of my beloved thirty chronologies has bitten the proverbial dust. I will use my platform here to tell you about its life...and its demise. It's not easy to write this as my tears are making the keyboard soggy and hard to type on, but I'll power through.

I had always had something nagging me about the Aimee Shu timeline, but I let it slide while accepting that I had found the work of a fellow blogger in Korea. I even talked about it in a post from September 2017. You can read it here.

So, a quick history. Back in 2010, when all this was just getting off the ground, I (somehow) come across a chronological list in Japanese. That led to other pages where the info seemed to be the same. The Japanese list was just years, but the corresponding pages (in Korean - and I don't speak or read either one) (thank gravy for translation software) had months attached. Now it was a party. As I looked further I stumbled upon a blog that had some dates with those months and years. Suddenly I had a new chronology, and one that was not known. I happily added it to my database and life went on. Here it is in its place among other dignitaries...

If you read the other post mentioned above, you'll see what I went through to find a name to give the chronology. On one of the Korean pages I had finally saw the name Aimee Shu. I used that as it was the only "solid" link I had. (In all fairness, I have no idea if this was her work or not. For all I know she just designed the blog itself, but I needed a name.) Her list was not hugely different from another chronologist's list, but there were changes, so it qualified as new.

Now, for clarity I'm going to have to designate these timelines with codes so we can keep track of them. So, the original Japanese page will be J1. Its sister page in Korean will be K1. The other Korean page with months will be K2, and the Shu page will be K3. With those in place I can tell you how the chronology met its doom.

The Sherlockian chronology world now has it's own website and newsletter. You can take a look at them here. It's an exciting time as we can share our passion with the world on a larger scale. Recently, while talking to the publisher of the site and newsletter, Brad Keafauver, the topic of the Shu timeline came up. I used it as an opportunity to re-visit it and finally wrap my head around the ghosts that had always haunted me about it. The end was near, but I didn't know it yet.

I started at the beginning with J1. From there I relocated K1 and confirmed they were the same list. The next stop was at K2 - the one with months. Something caught my eye. I noticed a case listed as 1888 was put with the 1887 cases. I switched over to K3 (the Shu list) and saw the same "error" there. I went to my main database and saw that I had recorded it that way. I also noticed that Shu's date was one of those that was totally unique to everyone else's. (A lot of hers were like that. Should've been a red flag, but I guess I was just too blind to see it.) I could tell K3 used the J1, K1, and K2 lists, but she had changed a few things. I wish now I had investigated further.

It should be known that I am famous for ignoring Introductions and opening paragraphs of things, and instead jumping into the meat of the action. As I looked at K3, however, I saw a familiar name in the header info. Here's that paragraph exactly as it appears:

In this timeline, Dr. John Watson's birth date (estimated) to the 100th anniversary of the publication of 'The Scarlet Study' (1887) was carried. It includes important events in the lives of Holmes, Watson, and Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as those included in the blackout. The date mainly followed information from William S Bearing Gould (a famous Sherlockian ^ ^). Gould eagerly researched Holmes' achievements and presumed annals of his life. Most of Watsons' incidents do not change or disclose the date of the occurrence, so the exact date has been debated for a long time. Here we use the date of bearing gould. It is natural that other estimates are possible.

As you can see, the translation is choppy (and I have no idea what she means by "in the blackout"), but gives an important bit when it says that her timeline mainly used that of William S. Baring-Gould's (called BG1 from here on). So, I pulled up his chronology, opened an Excel spreadsheet, and laid all of the chronologies mentioned here side-by-side for comparison. I then went through and highlighted every spot where there was a change between K3 and BG1. I found ten of them. With several of them I noticed that Shu had 01 (January) listed as the month, where nearly every other chronologist in my database had 10 (October) listed, and that no one had January for those cases. I started to feel that the differences in her timeline may be mistakes.

After looking at all of the problems, and applying logic to them, I found three that might be new dates when compared to BG1. However, two matched the findings of other chronologists, so I figured they weren't independent findings on her part. The only one that could be a unique date was for a case which all others said happened in the latter part of a certain year around fall. She had 'August' and that's just not enough of a change for me to believe it a new date.

(I knew that all of the timelines had a close relationship to Baring-Gould's, but I had never noticed his actual name of K3 before. Seems that part of the problem was me not paying enough attention and simply getting too excited about "finding" another chronology. Duh on me.)

In the end, K3 matched BG1 in 57 cases. Of the remainders - two matched dates from other timeliners, and the third was what I talked about at the end of the paragraph above. The Shu chronology was no more. It was taken from my databases, and dropped me down to a mere twenty-nine timelines. But, in the sunshine of life, that same day I was contacted about another one from someone I'd never heard of, and which is now on its way to my doorstep. So, one door shut and another opened. 

To boil it down - four timelines that are connected to each other from across the Pacific were written based upon the work of Baring-Gould, and while I initially believed that the final one was the final word, and a new timeline, it turns out they all mirrored his work almost exactly. This was something that I had either missed, or was unaware had been changed. (See, I can accept that I may have recorded a few of them incorrectly, but not all ten. Also, as before, I couldn't find anywhere that said the page had been updated, so I don't know how these ten differences found their way into the page and my database, but they did. I humbly take all responsibility.)

Well, that was a roller coaster, wasn't it? But, I believe admitting mistakes and accepting change is part of the research process, so I am not swayed in any way by this. I'll use it to be better, and to look harder.

Thanks for sticking with this until the end. (Unless, of course, you just jumped to the end. If so, shame on you.) I'll see you next month. Be well, and as always...thanks for reading.