Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Best 2018 Ever!

Well, the end of the year is upon us, and as I look back over where we've been on this little journey I am not only proud, but astonished. Astonished at how many people go on the ride with me, and astonished because the world of Holmes and Watson never seems to stop giving us places to go. At first I was going to do a Year In Review kind of thing, but once I got it all typed out I wasn't crazy about it. (I'm not guaranteeing this will be any better, but it has to better than the one I deleted.)

This blog has actually went through three incarnations. The first and second ones were spotty at best. I only blogged on occasion, and once even went a couple of years (maybe even three) between posts. It had no sense of itself, and while I didn't know for a long time exactly what I was going to do with it, I knew I didn't want to give it up. It had something to offer, and I'm happy to have found it.

I spent some time looking back at some of the pictures I had posted on Facebook. Included among them was the very first banner I ever made for Historical Sherlock. It's kind of cool, and I'm not sure what made me change it, but I do prefer the one I have now. (The one above.) Here it is for those who've never seen it. (That's probably most.)

The one I use now features a Peterson churchwarden pipe. Should I ever decide to copyright it or use it in any advertising, I suppose I will probably have to ask the Peterson people for permission. For know, though, that's not a problem. In the future I do see some products wth my logo on them. Maybe hats and polos, bookmarks, things like that. Later, not right now. Right now I am only concerned with doing research so I can bring you the findings.

Speaking of those findings, some of the places we've been together this year have been very interesting...and pretty cool. We've been all over London, a good portion of Southern England, and even went out to sea a couple of times. Sometimes I was able to find enough to put together a string of posts that I could schedule for weeks, other times I was up the night before a post was needed looking for a spark. When I first started this journey I had so very few resources to use, but now I have hundreds of websites, books, and publications to peruse for ideas. One of the things I'm most proud of is that I have rarely used someone else's findings for a starting point. My copies of The Annotated Sherlock Holmes, The Sherlock Holmes Reference Library, and The Oxford Sherlock Holmes all stay on their shelves (or on my desk) and are almost never opened for inspiration. Nearly all that I post is from my own research.

A number of the things I find don't even appear in those books. It's amazing how much info is still out there waiting to be found. The fun part is looking for it. On any given day you'll find me looking into just about anything having to do with Victorian London, and trying to find a way to connect it to Holmes and/or Watson. (Or I'm looking in The Canon and finding something new to research. Either way, it's a blast.)

I don't really have a point to this edition except to thank all of you for being on this ride with me. You really seem to enjoy it, and that's matched by my enthusiasm to find data and bring it to you. So, if you're expecting something different for next year you'll be very disappointed. I plan on doing exactly what got me to this point for as long as possible. I do have a few ideas to add to all of this, but nothing that will radically alter it. Why mess with something that works?

(I'm also very aware that this is the only post this month. I promised more than that, but December can get hectic. Please accept my apologies.)

Well, that's pretty much it. Thank you all so, so much for sticking with me. I'll see you next year, and as always...thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Mysterious Correspondent

Back in September of 2008 my home society was going to have a meeting featuring Professor Tom Turpin, an entymologist from Purdue University. Since bugs are his specialty, the natural place for Sherlockian minds to go is bees. Now, I know bees aren't technically insects, but for the purposes of our table of organization we'll accept that they are just for the few minutes we'll spend together here. [Correction: bees are insects. I feel kind of silly for the mistake.]

In honor of his visit I thought I would do some research about bees and see what I could come up with. Sometime before I had seen a piece or two in The London Times about beekeeping. I sought them out and re-found them. I looked further and found more. An idea began to form about the possibility that Holmes, in retirement, was one of the folks putting small articles in the paper about the hobby. We all know Holmes kept bees on the Sussex Downs when he gave up detecting, so I looked for items from around that time. The snag was determining when he reitred.
I had already come to the conclusion that 'The Lion's Mane' (LION) happened in 1909, which is in agreement with a low number of other chronologists. (Most like 1907.)

Unfortunately, I do not have the original clips, but I did save the text from them. What follows is the entire article I wrote with the exception of the first paragraph. (It doesn't add anything to the piece.)

April 24, 1908
Bee-Keeping As A Rural Industry,
From a "Correspondent"
As to literature which my be recommended for those who wish to pursue the subject, we may mention Cheshire's two volumes on "Bee and Bee-keeping" and Cowan's admirable little "British Bee-keeper's Guide Book." For those who wish for poetry mingled with science there is, of course, Maeterlinck's "Life of the Bee."

May 17, 1910
Proposed Amalgamation of Societies.
From a "Correspondent"
A special meeting of the British Beekeepers' Association will be held tomorrow to consider a scheme for the amalgamation for that association (the parent body) with all of the affiliated societies, thus forming one beekeeping association for the whole of Great Britain.
[Later in the article...]
It is hoped that the maintenance of one flourishing association in place of the thirty existing associations will establish complete identity of all members who are engaged in the beekeeping industry.

September 8, 1919
Beekeeping Industry Growing.
An indication of the revival of the bee-keeping industry in the country is the receipt by the authorities of over 3,000 additional applications for the supply of sugar for winter feeding of bees.

June 16, 1919
Promise of the Bees. A Good Honey Harvest.
(From "Correspondent")
[This article is 1000+ words long, but the most interesting thing is the last sentence, specifically the last two words.]
An experienced beekeeper can carry out more intricate manipulation in dealing with swarms which issue from supered colonies, but the one mentioned above [removing the queen] is the simplest for those to follow who have not had an extensive acquaintance with practical beekeeping.

You'll recall from 'His Last Bow' (LAST) that Holmes had written his magnum opus on beekeeping called The Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, with some Observations upon the Segregation of the Queen.

It is interesting to note that there is a large lapse in letters from correspondents, amateur or professional, from about 1912 to 1919. I know it was because of the war, but it was also a critical time for the hobby as apiarists from all over the UK were dealing with something called the "Isle of Wight" disease. However, since we know our hero was chloroforming Germans during this time it might be that the hiatus in missive-writing had something to do with Holmes' post-retirement activites? Could he be the unnamed 'Correspondent'?

As I read back over this article I'm struck by the fact that I don't recall exactly why I chose some of the pieces I did except that they seemed somewhat universal. What I mean is that I had to skip over a lot of them because they contained info that made it obvious it wasn't from Holmes. The ones I have here seem vague and ambiguous, and could certainly have been written by anyone...including a retired detective from London who just wants the world to pass him by.

Anyway, that's a little taste of the lengths I'll go to in my plight to tie Holmes into his world. I love what I do, and shall never give up in my quest. So, I'll see you next time. And as always...thanks for reading.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

From The Archives...

I'm getting to my blog posts fairly late this month, and for that I apologize. It' s been kind of a crazy November, and I am just now finding the time to get a couple of these together. This will be the first of two (in keeping with my promise of more than one a month) and it's a recapping of a chronology article I did way back in March of 2009. It was time for 'The Adventure of the Second Stain' (SECO) in the rotation for my home society. So, I took on the challenge.

Here's the article in its entirety. (Really, I don't change a thing. Not even the stupid parts.)

The Chronological Canon
The Adventure of the Second (& Third) Reference
by Vince Wright

I hope you like pickles, because this has some big ones in it. (My brain defines "pickle" as "harder to figure out than a Chinese movie with Turkish subtitles" if that helps.) This particular tale has a distinction which does not fall on many others - it is mentioned in two other cases. Or is it?
Before we get to those let us look at the internal dating.
First off, Watson tells us that this story takes place in a year and decade "that shall remain nameless." We see that Holmes is busy, and Watson may be living there. We know its autumn as its mentioned twice, and that the night before the case started (a Tuesday) it was a fine night. Later in the story we find that it was solved "upon the fourth day" which was obviously a Friday. So, not much to go on.
However, the late Gavin Brend did research (which I verified) indicating the "Secretary of Foreign Affairs"or Foreign Secretary was a young man throughout this period of time. Normally that position, and that of the Prime Minister were held by the same person. However, for a short while in 1886 the offices were occupied by two different men. Between the the PM was older, so we'll have to go with that.
Now, on to the other mentions of 'The Second Stain' in other stories. Watson refernces it in 'The Naval Treaty,' but there is a problem. He mentions two people who are not in the published story, lists the wrong time of year, and says that he was married at the time. Luckily, with a little bit of work these "problems" can all be somewhat correlated. Interestingly we also find it possibly mentioned in "The Yellow Face." It was grouped with other cases in which Holmes erred but the truth was still revealed. That doesn't fit with the facts in the story, if this is the same case.
However, I did find one comment that could help in some way, but it all depends on how you interpret it."It was my first visit to the scene of the crime." Watson says. So, my question is this: does he mean this crime scene, or to any crime scene? Tell you what - I'll leave it alone. I'm warning you now, though, that I am going to cover this in my discussion moderation of this tale on March 4th at the Illustrious Clients meeting, and probably in a future column. Well, not probably.
So the question depends upon whether or not these three cases are the same, and here's the answer - I don't know. But on the dating question, I have looked at a number of different chronologies and they all have pretty good arguments, so at the monent I only have a tentative answer. Baring-Gould puts it at October 11, 1886, based on weather and the official offices of the above officials. I'll go with that but I may change my mind later. I'll try not to make you wait too long.

Well, there you have it. Remember that I choose these at random, and don't usually pre-read them. Since I can't recall every one of these I've ever written, I had no idea this one had so many loose ends. Sorry to leave you hanging.
Knowing me I probably still have the story discussion papers from that meeting. However, digging for it would be a massive undertaking. You wouldn't believe what I've kept. But, that's a hobbyist for you. I do have a treat for you, though. I knew where the quiz was I made for the meeting.
I downloaded a cool rug picture, put a big red stain on one corner. That was the top sheet. Under that was a picture of a tile floor (that's hard to make out in the picture) with a stain on the other corner. That way when you lifted the rug, the stain was in a different spot. Clever, right? Problem was that the bottom stain didn't come out on the floor sheet. Still, the idea was cool. (If I may brag for a quizzes are things of legends. Not necessarily the quiz itself [not that they were bad at all] but the designs or covers or quirks that made them memorable.) ( post idea?)

Now, to bring us back to the main subject, I would like to draw attention to the line from Holmes about going to the scene of the crime. It's one of those things that lends itself to interpretation, and some chronologists will go one way, and others another. It's a perfect example of why a definitive chronology will be very hard to come by. Even if you could collect all of the pertinent infomartion about each story that leaves no doubt about the dating of each of them, a line like that causes all sorts of problems. Still, it's a good one to have.
I promised you at least two posts a month, and I will still deliver. I found something I wrote years ago about a mysterious correspondent for The London Times about beekeeping. I'm going to expand on it some and see what I can come up with.
On a side note, I was thinking about all the chronology columns I've written for our newsletter, and I recalled that the very first one I wrote (see my July 2018 post) was 666 words long. I didn't do that intentionally, and it had nothing to do with the vampire subject of the article. It just worked out to that number. So, that was my target number for several of them. Then the editor asked if I could pare it down some. I went to 600 words. Then it became 550, and utlimately to 500 - which is where I am now. I'm fortunate enough to have been in this hobby so long that I can usually put out a 500 worder without to much pre-planning.

Anyway, I'll get off this path to the past and tell you that I'll see you next time. And as always...thanks for reading.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Chasing A White Whale...Or Cat

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.
I stumbled across this little problem some years ago and have never really satisfied myself with what I've found. Is it Sherlockian or not? Might be, might not be. And I'll appreciate your thoughts on it. So let's get to it.
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:
In the upper left-hand area you'll see a guy that sort of looks like he's dressed like Holmes. Pipe, deerstalker, and ulster. Here's a detail shot of him.
When I looked closer I saw that the name of the character is Populo, and the actor was named Tom Woottwell. I wasn't familiar with either of these names, so I dove into some research trying to find out if Populo was indeed supposed to be a Sherlock-type character. Unfortunately, I didn't find anything. I mean nothing. But, I persisted. I looked up info on Tom Woottwell and found out he was a pretty popular comedian around the turn of the 19th/20th century. He was also an actor and singer, and his music is still used in shows today. What I couldn't find was a picture of 'The Loose-Legged Comedian" (as he was called) except in costume. This caricature is about as good as it gets.
One of the things I discovered about him is that his last name was sometimes spelled as Wootwell. I also discovered that under that version of his name a secondary search option comes up in Google:
I looked at every single link under that and couldn't find one time that Woot(t)well was associated with Holmes. His name does appear in articles where Holmes is mentioned, but not together. And every time it was from a paper in New Zealand. (I should also point out that that Holmes option doesn't appear under the other spelling of his name.) While looking through those links I did find a picture of a his name being displayed on the Palace Theatre on Walthamstow High Street in London. (And even though it's spelled Woottwell on the sign, I found it while researching Wootwell. I dunno.)
Anyway, back to the possible Holmes connection.
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:
This doesn't really seem to help, though. Besides looking thinner, the character still kind of looks like Holmes, and kind of doesn't. That leads me to why I'm posting this: does this seem like a Sherlock-type character to anyone out there?
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.)
A coster (short for costermonger) is a street-seller of fruits and vegetables. See, no help. The term does appear in The Canon in 'The Red-Headed League' (REDH), but has no bearing on the problem. And if the Populo character is in fact a costermnger, he'd be the most fancifully-dressed one ever.
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.

Friday, October 12, 2018

From The Archives...

Hello all. Got another of those articles from my chronological column archive. In all of the years that I wrote these I was able to come up with some pretty good arguments (I think) and this is one of those times. And I'm happy to say that in the 8 years since I wrote this no one has ever come up with the same answer.

It was January of 2010 when I wrote this. Inside this edition of my home society's newsletter is a picture of me with a moderately full head of hair, and just a mustache. Eek! (No, I'm not going to show it to you. Sorry.) What's bizarre is that I actually remember the meeting that we'd had about the story 'The Man with the Twisted Lip' (TWIS), and that I had already formulated my idea about the date prior to that. Having a date is great, but you have to be able to prove or defend it. So, after the meeting I got to work on it, and I think I did a fairly decent job of showing how I came up with one. Granted, it's no Pulitzer Prize winner, but it works for me.

The Chronological Canon
The Case with the Twisted Date
by Vince Wright

Many moons ago I dated 'The Musgrave Ritual' differently than anyone else ever had. I was afraid I would be ostracized by the Chronology Community, or worse beaten up by other chronologists at our big Chronology Conventions for being different. When I took up the challenge of 'The Man with the Twisted Lip' I once again found myself staring at an answer like before. It was simple and seemed obvious, yet everyone else had missed it. However, as I stated a few articles ago, much of what we do relies heavily on interpretation, so let's interpret.
The biggest pickle with the story is the way Watson says it was Friday, June 19, 1889. The problem is that that date was a Wednesday. Baring-Gould blames the typesetter for this and a number of other "errors." (He also blames handwriting, drugs, and not knowing exactly what time of the night it was.) He comes up with 1887, but Holmes mentions this year in conversation, a fact Baring-Gould just barely acknowledges by saying if St. Clair's children were conceived after the marriage in 1887, as per the proper Victorian custom, then 1889 is possible.
There are some things mentioned that do help my case. We read that it was "an exceedingly hot day," so we are likely talking about the middle of the year. And when Holmes and Watson head back to the police station after four in the morning, the sun was shining. Early morning sunshine in the UK? Still talking about the middle of the year.
There are also neutral items. First, the telephone at the station. By the late 1880's there were thousands of them all over England. And the appearance of Inspector Bradstreet is of little consequence, just like the other two stories he appears in. And due to the lack of info about the whens and wives of Watson's life we have to ignore it for now.
The only section of the tale that could cause concern was the route the Good Two take to Lee. "We have touched on three counties in our short little drive, starting in Middlesex, passing over an angle of Surrey, and ending in Kent."
Scholar Michael Kaser found that the Administrative County of London was passed into law on March 31, 1889, and when this happened, it replaced the Middlesex and Surrey parts of London. This isn't a problem, as people refer to things they are accustomed to and can take a while to change that. I grew up near a creek that everyone calls by the name it had 30 years ago even though it has a different name now.
I would also like to add that I don't think it matters what colors Holmes' dressing-gown was nor how it relates to his other ones. I have two robes myself, of two different colors. And Watson being called James isn't a concern, either. I believe that his middle name was Hamish, and that she called him the translated version. Everyone who knew may dad called him Gene, but his name was Edward Eugene. (Are you enjoying these extra special glimpses into my life?)
Anyway, on to that date. Now I am not going to play the blame game like Baring-Gould. My date does change one thing that Watson says but I won't try to explain it. I just know that the date he gives us of June 19, 1889 could be right, but since that wasn't a Friday, it isn't. However, if you look at the evidence you'll find that another date fits in every way...July 19, 1889.

I also remember that at that meeting our group was treated to a special song called 'Hugh Boone.' It was set to the tune of 'Blue Moon' and was very cleverly done. (I can't seem to recall any of the words, but I know it got a lot of laughs.) And it was at a now-defunct restaurant. The building is still there, and it's now another eating establishment as is usually the case. My group has a history of shutting down eateries.

Well, there you go. I don't know what I'm going to do for another column this month, but I'll come up with something. Until then, have a great October...and thanks for reading.

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.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Just Generally Speaking...

I know other people have written about what I'm going to write about in this entry, but my guess is that not everyone knows about it. So, I'm going to talk about it again. Again, you say? Well, I touched on it briefly almost exactly one year ago today on August 29, 2017, in a post about 'The Adventure of the Cardboard Box' (CARD). (It was titled Data! Data! Data! if you want to take a look.) But the idea came from a recent post I made over on this blog's sister site on Facebook. Now, let's expand on it.
In CARD we hear the following:

'Do you mean to say that you read my train of thoughts from my features?'
'Your features, and especially your eyes. Perhaps you cannot yourself recall how your reverie commenced?'
'No, I cannot.'
'Then I will tell you. After throwing down your paper, which was the action which drew my attention to you, you sat for half a minute with a vacant expression. Then your eyes fixed themselves upon your newly-framed picture of General Gordon, and I saw by the alteration in your face that a train of thought had been started. But it did not lead very far. Your eyes flashed across to the unframed portrait of Henry Ward Beecher which stands upon the top of your books. You then glanced up at the wall, and of course your meaning was obvious. You were thinking that if the portrait were framed, it would just cover that bare space and correspond with Gordon's picture over there.'
'You have followed me wonderfully!' I exclaimed.

Major-General Charles George Gordon was a British Army officer who saw action on numerous fronts in Europe and Asia. It was his service in Asia that made him a national hero and earned him the nickname "Chinese" Gordon. Watson was obviously an ardent admirer of the man, as were many, and even went so far to put up a picture of him at 221b. (There are lots of pictures of Gordon, but the one shown here seems to be the most popular, so I picked it.) He was a hero in the eyes of the British people because of his exploits in other lands and because of his glorified death in 1885, but was less so to the British government who found him to be a bit of a troublemaker who sometimes went against orders.
Now let's talk about the part that will make you wonder.

There's another General Gordon.
The other Gordon, John Brown Gordon, was an attorney before becoming a soldier, and a Senator and railroadman after. He wrote a book in 1903, but that was after he was a Governor. He was also the leader of a veteran's group until he died in 1904. His war record isn't too shabby, either. He certainly seems like the kind of man to admire, right?
Well, this General Gordon was in the Army, too. The Confederate Army.
Now, I'm not going to express any opinion one way or the other, but there are certain things about him that can be viewed as unfortunate by some. This Gordon was, in fact, a slave owner like his father, and there is some evidence that he was the head of the Georgia KKK. (That's never been proven, by the way.)
Let's take a look at the next paragraph in the story.

'So far I could hardly have gone astray. But now your thoughts went back to Beecher, and you looked hard across as if you were studying the character in his features. Then your eyes ceased to pucker, but you continued to look across, and your face was thoughtful. You were recalling the incidents of Beecher's career. I was well aware that you could not do this without thinking of the mission which he undertook on behalf of the North at the time of the Civil War, for I remember your expressing your passionate indignation at the way in which he was received by the more turbulent of our people. You felt so strongly about it, that I knew you could not think of Beecher without thinking of that also. When a moment later I saw your eyes wander away from the picture, I suspected that your mind had now turned to the Civil War, and when I observed that your lips set, your eyes sparkled, and your hands clenched, I was positive that you were indeed thinking of the gallantry which was shown by both sides in that desperate struggle. But then, again, your face grew sadder; your shook your head. You were dwelling upon the sadness and horror and useless waste of life. Your hand stole towards your own old wound and a smile quivered on your lips, which showed me that the ridiculous side of this method of settling international questions had forced itself upon your mind. At this point I agreed with you that it was preposterous, and was glad to find that all my deductions had been correct.'

Looks like the Civil War was in fact on Watson's mind, but again it really doesn't say in what way. We can go the easy way and say that he was a fan of the Union, but what if? Again, I'm not levying an opinion here, I'm merely laying out the facts so that others can decide. It's a gray area, but one that I suspect most will say has to fall with the winning side. (Just remember, though, that the guy in the other portrait was an American. Hmm...)
So, which General Gordon was it? Both men had great war records, and both were distinguished gentlemen in most ways, but they also had their controversies. I don't know the answer here, but I know as a Brit Watson would probably have chosen his fellow countryman.
Well, those are all the pertinent facts. You can decide for yourself. Remember to follow your heart.
I'll see you next time. And as always...thanks for reading.

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Adventure of the Veiled Logic

As much as I enjoy talking to you about all the different little quirky finds I've made in the world of late-Victorian London and the time of Holmes and Watson, it's also important to get back to the roots of your quest. So, I bring to you another of the chronological columns that I wrote for my home society's newsletter. I'm not doing these in any order (except for the first one) so I just reached into the pile and pulled out one at random.
Now, I have to ask that you remember that these were done before I realized that I had forgotten to make a number of considerations for my findings. The logic isn't always sound, and often they were written in haste and can read that way. For the post here where I showed you my first chronology column ever, my friend James made some great points that I made note of for future considerations. I welcome these kinds of things, but ask you to be kind to me. I was a young, excited, budding Sherlockian trying to make my way in a part of the hobby that I was told not to waste my time on. Still, I do enjoy bringing these to you.
This time we'll be looking at 'The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger' (VEIL) in a piece I wrote for the October 2006 edition.

The Chronological Canon
by Vince Wright

"The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger" is just that and nothing more. There is neither an appreciable mystery nor a really great story, but from a chronological standpoint it's a darn fine problem. This tale does not cause a debate over the dating of it mainly because there are no dates to argue about.
A close look reveals some slim clues that help in the quest. We do find possible timelines to use, but not very obvious ones, and outside of "late 1896" there is no other direct help besides a delivered note from Holmes which did not come on a Sunday. Most chronologists (nearly all) just agree with Watson on the year and can go no further. Only our fellow Sherlockian Brad Keefauver narrows it down to a specific calendar square with some decent logic, and I will look at his thinking and see if I can come to the same conclusion.
As for the clues that don't help, here they are: Watson was living at Baker Street, Abbas Parva (which doesn't sound like an English name) doesn't exist, and the phrase "in his cups" (to be drunk or being a drunk) was used by Mark Twain in Innocents Abroad in 1869, and had been used in other works in different forms.
The only historical evidence in the story comes from the names Wombwell and Sanger, both circus folk. Their schedule traditionally began on May 1st, but as the term circus can be substituted for other words like carnival, menagerie, funfair, bazaar, or festival, it's hard to track down exact dates. Some were known to start in early January, but not all of them. According to Keefauver, "Lord" Sanger ran his circus for nine months a year, and I have to assume that Ronder, the rival, kept the same schedule. The season was still in as the killing happened while the show was on its way to Wimbledon and was camping between appearances. Leonardo, the strongman who worked for Ronder, died while bathing near Margate so the month was likely not a winter one.
The events on the story took place seven years before, and if 1896 is right that means 1889. The only indication of a time of year is "late" 1896. Keefauver gives us the exact date of September 22, 1889, based on these points: evidence of a late December starting time for circuses; Eugenia and Leonardo would have wanted to kill Ronder before the end of the season; and if late December/early January is right then it would have been over by September/October placing Leonardo's death in August or so since Eugenia read about his death in the paper "last month." Using the 22nd places the date later in the year, but having to exclude late, cold months makes this seem workable.
I cannot find a reason to disagree with Kefauver's date even though it doesn't feel right. Until new evidence comes to light I will accept this and agree.

Even as I re-type all of this I realize just how amateur my logic and reasoning seemed. (Often I would write these columns the night before the deadline, thus robbing myself and my readers of a better piece.) I also get to find all the places I left out commas or words, and see how often I didn't (did not) use contractions just so I could get to an exact word count.
Still, these aren't too bad, and they improved with time and experience. There's also the matter of me saying "all" or "most" chronologists because at the time I didn't have all of the chronologies I have now. That might change a few things, but not necessarily the date.
Speaking of the chronologies I have...
Recently I was able to obtain a 24th for my collection, and sat down to add it to my databases. While doing this I noticed a couple of small mistakes on another timeline. When I investigated it I found that the one collective place I'd gotten info for about half of my chronologies was in the wrong. So, I went back to the source material and got the correct dates, but found myself wondering just how many mistakes there were to find. After a lot of checking I discovered a number of them. I realized then that I should have went back to the original publications themselves for my data. (I shall be doing that from now on.)
I was disheartened, as well, because those errors meant I had also gotten some of my Facebook Posts wrong. But, what's done is done. I'll just have to make sure it's correct from this point on.
I hope you enjoyed this second foray into my chronological genesis. I love being able to share these with you. See you soon, and as always...thanks for reading!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Improving The Already Perfect

This post is going to briefly touch on something I love, and then it's going to continue on to something else I love. I know from time to time I get away from the chronology aspect here, but I take little trips outward to show you little glimpses of the world in which Holmes and Watson lived. I think it's necessary, and it's also a lot of fun. Today though, we're going to be taking a look at something I've long had in the back of my mind to do, but haven't taken the time to complete.
That thing I love is M*A*S*H. I've been a fan of the show since I was a kid, and will always be one. I have seen every episode literally hundreds of times, and can quote from them extensively. It is my absolute favorite TV show of all time. (Yes, I still cry when Col. Blake dies.) However, one of the criticisms I hear about it is that the show lasted 11 years, whereas the actual Korean War only lasted 2 1/2. I don't find this to be a problem at all because those who make that comment are missing an important aspect of the timeline: the show doesn't flow through from day one until the last day without a break. There are only 256 episodes, and each of them only covers a certain length of time. In other words, what would be the total number of days if you just looked at the actual length of each episode in that way? Would it equal more than 2 1/2 years? If so, then that argument would be valid. The other way is not.
Now to that other thing I love: Sherlock Holmes. It's not exactly the same thing when referring to the Holmes timelines because they could not possibly add up to the almost 20 years he was in practice. So, it's actually the opposite side of the M*A*S*H conundrum. But, nowhere in my databases do I have anything that shows the actual length of time each chronologist thinks each case took. I need to remedy that. Let me give you an example.

William S. Baring-Gould says that 'A Scandal in Bohemia' (SCAN) lasts from Friday May 20 to Sunday, May 22, 1887.
E. B. Zeisler agrees with the number of days, but says it was Friday, March 22 to Sunday, March 24, 1889.
H. W. Bell, on the other hand, says that the action lasted one day longer. He likes Thursday, March 22 to Sunday, March 25, 1888.
Now, ignoring the years (which are right next to each other purely by coincidence in choosing the story), you'll see that there's disagreement on how long the case took. That is what I am missing in my lists. I have realized this for a long time, but always got by on just having the beginning dates. What I'm doing, however, is cheating myself out of even more chronolgical information. Yes, the starting date is the most important, but what's missing could potentially affect other stories. There are a few that seem to have pauses in them, and those pauses may be because of (or contain) another case. I'm not completely certain of this, but it seems I can recall a situation like that somewhere.
This is going to take quite a bit of time to change, and I will only be able to peck away at it here and there. This little project of mine just continues to grow, and my time for new things keeps getting smaller. However, I am dedicated to this, so I will make it happen somewhere. In the end it will only allow for more blog posts, and I'll finally feel like I'm not cheating myself of all that other data. So, it looks like I've got a lot of work to do.
Now, on top of all of this, I recently became aware of a new chronology out there. I know where it is, I just have to go get a copy of it. (Actually, I have a copy on the way.) This will bring my total number of timelines to 24. I'm not sure how I didn't know about it, but was thrilled to find out. In addition, I have people asking about the society for chronologists that I've mentioned in previous posts. It's still going to happen, I just have to work out the details and do some of the fine tuning before I start requesting members. Also, I have several projects and papers that have upcoming deadlines, plus an invitation to write another pastiche. (I had to turn down the last invitation because of time constraints, so we'll see what happens with this one.) I love having all of these irons in the fire, and hope I can meet and/or exceed what's expected of me.
This is the first time I've ever had three posts in one month, and I foresee me having enough 'product' to continue to do so for some time. It may not always be three, but it will never be just one again. My archives and files are just filled with all sorts of interesting little tidbits that don't seem to mesh together, and you're the beneficiary. It should be a fun ride.
For now, I need to get to work on what I talked about above. I'll see you next month, and as always...thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Mistake? Intentional? You Decide

The Sidney Paget illustrations for The Canon cases are some of the most recognized in the world of Sherlockiana. A good number of them are iconic, and are repeated for images used on business cards, announcements, websites...just about anything we use in the hobby. They are a mainstay.
I have looked at all of these drawings and have found a few peculiarities in some. They are illustrations, after all, and not photographs, so there can be mistakes or oddities that need to be looked into or explained. Today, we're going to look at one of those. So, everyone open your copies of The Canon to 'A Scandal in Bohemia' (SCAN). Watson has come to visit Holmes, and during the conversation Watson takes a seat while Holmes stands in front of the fire and discusses Watson's weight.
Watson looks comfortable, and he expects something is about to happen since Holmes seems pensive. Then they start discussing the upcoming case. However, there's something missing in the picture. I don't know why it isn't there, but it isn't. Anyway, let's keep the narratve going here. Holmes tells Watson of the impending case, and they spend a few minutes examining a note that The Master had received.
The sound of "horse's hoofs and grating wheels against the curb" tells them that their mysterious visitor has arrived. Now, remember, only about five minutes have passed.
So, in that five minutes before this stately dude walks in and gets the case underway, what happened to cause what occurs next? Was Mrs. Hudson in the room and we just weren't told about it? Or had Holmes planned on doing it all along and just forgot until Watson arrived. Of course, he had to wait until Watson got out of the chair to do it, and it had to be quick.
What am I talking about, you ask? Well, take a look at the third illustration in the case and tell me what's missing from the first one.
Now do you see it? I don't quite understand it myself. Holmes and Watson never struck me as uncomfortable around royalty. Maybe they were just embarrassed that their meager belongings weren't of the caliber that this man was used to. Or, maybe Mr. Paget just missed or forgot it in the first illustration. Either way, it's weird.
I realize it doesn't mean much in this crazy world of ours, but it's the sort of thing that just tickles my liver, so I had to share it. I thought perhaps my audience would enjoy it.
Wait, you haven't seen it yet? Oh, sorry. Well, in the first illustration we can't see Holmes's chair, so it may have been that way all along, but you'll note that Watsons's chair is now covered with a sheet of some kind whereas before it was not.
Sorry, everyone. I was just having a little fun with you. This is one of those quirky little things I've noticed that I wanted to share with you. Please forgive me.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it. I am curious how many people said, "I never noticed that before!" But, fun is the idea behind all of this, and this version of the 'Spot the Difference' from the puzzle magazines is the kind of back burner topics I have floating around in my brain.
So, thanks for reading. I'll see you soon.