On February 17th… The Birth of a Sherlockian Scholar

February 17, 1888: On this date, the Reverend Monsignor Ronald A Knox, one of the most eminent original Sherlockian scholars, was born. Although he was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1912, he converted to Catholicism, becoming a Roman Catholic priest in 1918, later a Monsignor. He is best known for writing the paper Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes.

Cover of RONALD KNOX AND SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE ORIGIN OF SHERLOCKIAN STUDIES, edited by Michael J. Crowe

Available from Gasogene Books (Wessex Press)

If there is anything pleasant in life, it is doing what we aren’t meant to do. If there is anything pleasant in criticism, it is finding out what we aren’t meant to find out. It is the method by which we treat as significant what the author did not mean to be significant, by which we single out as essential what the author regarded as incidental. […] There is, however, a special fascination in applying this method to Sherlock Holmes, because it is, in a sense, Holmes’s own method. ‘It has long been an axiom of mine,’ he says, ‘that the little things are infinitely the most important.’ It might be the motto of his life’s work.

This paper has generated years of Sherlockian studies. It was presented to the Gryphon Club in 1911, published in The Blue Book Magazine in 1912, and republished a number of times, including in Knox’s Essays in Satire in 1928. [The link above will take you to a PDF file of the paper in Blackfriars v1 n3 (June 1920), hosted at the University of Minnesota. -Selena Buttons]

In a response to the paper, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote that “Holmes changed entirely as the stories went on” but that “Watson never for one instant as chorus and chronicler transcends his own limitations. Never once does a flash of wit or wisdom come from him. All is remorsely eliminated so that he may be Watson.” [A frankly absurd assertion! -Selena Buttons]

My source for the information on Knox’s birthdate comes from A Curious Collection of Dates by Leah Guinn (“Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (“Tressa”). [Additional information about the presentation and publication of “Studies of the Literature of Sherlock Holmes” and Dr Doyle’s response comes from The Ronald Knox Society of North America. -Selena Buttons]

(This post originally appeared on February 17, 2017.)

On January 24th… “Barcarolle”

‘I think I can promise you that you will feel even less humorous as the evening advances. Now, look here, Count Sylvius. I’m a busy man and I can’t waste time. I’m going into that bedroom. Pray make yourselves quite at home in my absence. You can explain to your friend how the matter lies without the restraint of my presence. I shall try over the Hoffmann Barcarolle upon my violin. In five minutes I shall return for your final answer. You quite grasp the alternative, do you not? Shall we take you, or shall we have the stone?’

Holmes withdrew, picking up his violin from the corner as he passed. A few moments later the long-drawn, wailing notes of that most haunting of tunes came faintly through the closed door of the bedroom.

Portrait of Hoffmann by an unidentified painter ca. 1800 (University of Adelaide), via Wikimedia Commons

Ernst Theodor Amadeus (E. T. A.) Hoffmann was born Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann on January 24th, 1776, in Königsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia).

He was a painter, a composer, and a writer. Three of his stories – “Der Sandmann” (The Sandman), Rath Krespel (Councillor Krespel; published in English translation as The Cremona Violin), and Die Geschichte vom verlorenen Spiegelbilde (The Story of the Lost Reflection) – formed the basis of Offenbach’s final opera, “The Tales of Hoffmann”. The soprano/mezzo-soprano duet, “Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour”, is considered the most famous barcarolle ever written and often referred to as simply “The Barcarolle”.

[Hat-tip to Leah Guinn and Jaime N Mahoney and their fantastic A Curious Collection of Dates: Through the Year with Sherlock Holmes”]

On January 23rd…

January 23, 1891: Holmes “incommoded” Moriarty. [FINA]

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (December, 1893)

“You evidently don’t know me,” said he.

“On the contrary,” I answered, “I think it is fairly evident that I do. Pray take a chair. I can spare you five minutes if you have anything to say.”

“All that I have to say has already crossed your mind,” said he.

“Then possibly my answer has crossed yours,” I replied.

“You stand fast?”

“Absolutely.”

He clapped his hand into his pocket, and I raised the pistol from the table. But he merely drew out a memorandum-book in which he had scribbled some dates.

“You crossed my path on the 4th of January,” said he. “On the 23rd you incommoded me; by the middle of February I was seriously inconvenienced by you; at the end of March I was absolutely hampered in my plans; and now, at the close of April, I find myself placed in such a position through your continual persecution that I am in positive danger of losing my liberty. The situation is becoming an impossible one.”

“Have you any suggestion to make?” I asked.

“You must drop it, Mr Holmes,” said he, swaying his face about. “You really must, you know.”

On January 12th…

January 12 (or thereabouts), 1903: Sir James Saunders diagnosed Godfrey Emsworth’s disease as pseudo-leprosy. [BLAN]

Illustration by Howard K. Elcock for The Strand Magazine (November, 1926)

I was finishing this little analysis of the case when the door was opened and the austere figure of the great dermatologist was ushered in. But for once his sphinx-like features had relaxed and there was a warm humanity in his eyes. He strode up to Colonel Emsworth and shook him by the hand.

‘It is often my lot to bring ill-tidings, and seldom good,’ said he. ‘This occasion is the more welcome. It is not leprosy.’

‘What?’

‘A well-marked case of pseudo-leprosy or ichthyosis, a scale-like affection of the skin, unsightly, obstinate, but possibly curable, and certainly non-infective. Yes, Mr Holmes, the coincidence is a remarkable one. But is it coincidence? Are there not subtle forces at work of which we know little? Are we assured that the apprehension, from which this young man has no doubt suffered terribly since his exposure to its contagion, may not produce a physical effect which simulates that which it fears? At any rate, I pledge my professional reputation – But the lady has fainted! I think that Mr Kent had better be with her until she recovers from this joyous shock.’

On January 8th…

Chalk pit off Silkstead Lane near Silkstead Manor Farm. Photo by Pierre Terre [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

January 8, 1885: Joseph Openshaw was killed by a fall into a chalk pit. [FIVE]

On the third day after the coming of the letter my father went from home to visit an old friend of his, Major Freebody, who is in command of one of the forts upon Portsdown Hill. I was glad that he should go, for it seemed to me that he was further from danger when he was away from home. In that, however, I was in error. Upon the second day of his absence I received a telegram from the Major, imploring me to come at once. My father had fallen over one of the deep chalk-pits which abound in the neighbourhood, and was lying senseless, with a shattered skull. I hurried to him, but he passed away without having ever recovered his consciousness. He had, as it appears, been returning from Fareham in the twilight, and as the country was unknown to him, and the chalk-pit unfenced, the jury had no hesitation in bringing in a verdict of “Death from accidental causes”. Carefully as I examined every fact connected with his death, I was unable to find anything which could suggest the idea of murder. There were no signs of violence, no footmarks, no robbery, no record of strangers having been seen upon the roads. And yet I need not tell you that my mind was far from at ease, and that I was well-nigh certain that some foul plot had been woven round him.

January 8, 1888 (or maybe 1889): Jack Douglas confessed to killing Ted Baldwin. [VALL]

I was on my guard all that next day and never went out into the park. It’s as well, or he’d have had the drop on me with that buck-shot gun of his before ever I could draw on him. After the bridge was up – my mind was always more restful when that bridge was up in the evenings – I put the thing clear out of my head. I never figured on his getting into the house and waiting for me. But when I made my round in my dressing-gown, as my habit was, I had no sooner entered the study than I scented danger. I guess when a man has had dangers in his life – and I’ve had more than most in my time – there is a kind of sixth sense that waves the red flag. I saw the signal clear enough, and yet I couldn’t tell you why. Next instant I spotted a boot under the window curtain, and then I saw why plain enough.

Illustration by Frank Wiles for The Strand Magazine, (January, 1915)

I’d just the one candle that was in my hand, but there was a good light from the hall lamp through the open door. I put down the candle and jumped for a hammer that I’d left on the mantel. At the same moment he sprang at me. I saw the glint of a knife and I lashed at him with the hammer. I got him somewhere, for the knife tinkled down on the floor. He dodged round the table as quick as an eel, and a moment later he’d got his gun from under his coat. I heard him cock it, but I had got hold of it before he could fire. I had it by the barrel, and we wrestled for it all ends up for a minute or more. It was death to the man that lost his grip. He never lost his grip, but he got it butt downwards for a moment too long. Maybe it was I that pulled the trigger. Maybe we just jolted it off between us. Anyhow, he got both barrels in the face, and there I was, staring down at all that was left of Ted Baldwin.

On January 2nd…

January 2, 1881: Watson moved into 221B Baker Street. [STUD]

We met next day as he had arranged, and inspected the rooms at No. 221B, Baker Street, of which he had spoken at our meeting. They consisted of a couple of comfortable bedrooms and a single large airy sitting-room, cheerfully furnished, and illuminated by two broad windows. So desirable in every way were the apartments, and so moderate did the terms seem when divided between us, that the bargain was concluded upon the spot, and we at once entered into possession. That very evening I moved my things round from the hotel, and on the following morning Sherlock Holmes followed me with several boxes and portmanteaus.

On January 1st… The Beginning

On January 1, 1881, Dr John H Watson, recently returned to London and living in “a private hotel in the Strand,” realized he had been “spending such money as [he] had, considerably more freely than [he] ought.” He decided “to leave the hotel, and to take up [his] quarters in some less pretentious and less expensive domicile.”

At the Criterion Bar, he was surprised by an old acquaintance, young Stamford, who just happened to know of another young man in search of someone with whom to share the expense of living in London. And so off to Barts they went….

Illustration by George Hutchinson (1891)

There was only one student in the room, who was bending over a distant table absorbed in his work. At the sound of our steps he glanced round and sprang to his feet with a cry of pleasure. ‘I’ve found it! I’ve found it,’ he shouted to my companion, running towards us with a test-tube in his hand. ‘I have found a re-agent which is precipitated by haemoglobin, and by nothing else.’ Had he discovered a gold mine, greater delight could not have shone upon his features.

‘Dr Watson, Mr Sherlock Holmes,’ said Stamford, introducing us.

‘How are you?’ he said cordially, gripping my hand with a strength for which I should hardly have given him credit. ‘You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.’

A very happy new year, dear Watsonians!

On December 15th…

The Sherlockian and Watsonian world received many gifts from a man born on this day in 1884. Already a Business Law Professor at the University of Chicago with several books and articles to his credit, he discovered the joy of playing The Game after reading Profile by Gaslight in 1944. He wrote a 16-page response to Anthony Boucher’s essay, “Was the Later Holmes an Imposter?”

He soon became acquainted with Vincent Starrett, who invited him to join the Hounds of the Baskerville (sic), which Starrett himself founded in 1943.

Among our Mystery Man’s Sherlockian publications were An Irregular Chronology of Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street (1947) and An Irregular Guide to Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street (1947, with supplements in 1947 and 1948).

It was the latter volume that introduced his most enduring and outstanding gift, one that almost every Sherlockian writing on the Canon uses nearly every day around the world. We use it whenever we post quotes or events from the Canon. It is an obvious convenience to use this rather than spelling out “The Hound of the Baskervilles” every time we refer to that book. It is, of course, Jay Finley Christ’s system of abbreviations of all 60 Canonical tales:


ABBE         The Abbey Grange
BERY         The Beryl Coronet
BLAC         Black Peter
BLAN         The Blanched Soldier
BLUE         The Blue Carbuncle
BOSC         The Boscombe Valley Mystery
BRUC         The Bruce-Partington Plans
CARD         The Cardboard Box
CHAS         Charles Augustus Milverton
COPP         The Copper Beeches
CREE         The Creeping Man
CROO         The Crooked Man
DANC         The Dancing Men
DEVI         The Devil’s Foot
DYIN         The Dying Detective
EMPT         The Empty House
ENGR         The Engineer’s Thumb
FINA         The Final Problem
FIVE         The Five Orange Pips
GLOR         The “Gloria Scott”
GOLD         The Golden Pince-Nez
GREE         The Greek Interpreter
HOUN         The Hound of the Baskervilles
IDEN         A Case of Identity
ILLU         The Illustrious Client
LADY         The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax
LAST         His Last Bow
LION         The Lion’s Mane
MAZA         The Mazarin Stone
MISS         The Missing Three-Quarter
MUSG         The Musgrave Ritual
NAVA         The Naval Treaty
NOBL         The Noble Bachelor
NORW         The Norwood Builder
PRIO         The Priory School
REDC         The Red Circle
REDH         The Red-Headed League
REIG         The Reigate Squires
RESI         The Resident Patient
RETI         The Retired Colourman
SCAN         A Scandal in Bohemia
SECO         The Second Stain
SHOS         Shoscombe Old Place
SIGN         The Sign of the Four
SILV         Silver Blaze
SIXN         The Six Napoleons
SOLI         The Solitary Cyclist
SPEC         The Speckled Band
STOC         The Stockbroker’s Clerk
STUD         A Study in Scarlet
SUSS         The Sussex Vampire
THOR         The Problem of Thor Bridge
3GAB         The Three Gables
3GAR         The Three Garridebs
3STU         The Three Students
TWIS         The Man with the Twisted Lip
VALL         The Valley of Fear
VEIL         The Veiled Lodger
WIST         Wisteria Lodge
YELL         The Yellow Face

Our thanks to A Curious Collection of Dates: Through the Year with Sherlock Holmes, by Leah Guinn (JHWS “Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (JHWS “Tressa”) for including Professor Christ’s birthday (and the note that his surname rhymes with “list”) among many other fascinating tid bits!

On December 13th… The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes


“The Final Problem” appeared in the December 1893 issue of The Strand. It was also the last story in the collection The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, published on December 13, 1893, by George Newnes of London.

Readers did not take Holmes’s demise very well. A Curious Collection of Dates: Through the Year with Sherlock Holmes, by Leah Guinn and Jaime N Mahoney, quotes this passage from the Manchester Courier and General Lancashire Advertiser (December 30, 1893):

If […] Dr. Conan Doyle has some new vein [of gold] to work, well and good. We question if he can improve on Sherlock Holmes. But if not, he must resuscitate his hero, for we simply do not know what the reading public will do without him.

[A Curious Collection of Dates is a really remarkable book and a great read. –Chips]

Arsene Lupin Contre Herlock Sholmes

Cover of 1963 edition of Arsene Lupin contre Herlock Sholmes

French author Maurice-Marie-Émile Leblanc was born on December 11, 1864, in Rouen, France. A novelist and journalist, he is best known today as the creator of Arsène Lupin, the gentleman thief featured in more than sixty stories.

Lupin’s first appearance – “L’Arrestation d’Arsène Lupin” – was published in Je Sais Tout on July 15, 1905, and the character quickly gained a following. The following year, Je Sais Tout published the story “Sherlock Holmès Arrive Trop Tard” (“Sherlock Holmes Arrives Too Late”). That story came to the attention of Arthur Conan Doyle, who objected to the violation of his copyright. When the collected Lupin stories were published in book form in 1910, it was under the title Arsène Lupin Versus Herlock Sholmes. For the UK edition, the name was Arsène Lupin versus Holmlock Shears.

A century later (give or take a few years), Lupin and the now-public-domain Holmes met in digital format in the computer game Sherlock Holmes versus Arsène Lupin (Frogwares, 2007 (original) and 2010 (remastered)). In the game, Lupin tries to steal five valuable items in order to humiliate Britain, and it is up to Holmes (and some other characters) to stop him.

Sources: A Curious Collection of Dates: Through the Year with Sherlock Holmes, by Leah Guinn and Jaime N Mahoney; Encyclopædia Britannica

On December 10th…

We continue with the dating of the events of MISS in December (rather than February – as explained in a previous entry) and take today’s event from A Day by Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled by William S Dorn, BSI, DWNP.

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (August, 1904)

December 10, 1896: Godfrey Stanton’s wife died. [MISS]

A woman, young and beautiful, was lying dead upon the bed. Her calm, pale face, with dim, wide-opened blue eyes, looked upwards from amid a great tangle of golden hair. At the foot of the bed, half sitting, half kneeling, his face buried in the clothes, was a young man, whose frame was racked by his sobs. So absorbed was he by his bitter grief that he never looked up until Holmes’s hand was on his shoulder.

‘Are you Mr. Godfrey Staunton?’

‘Yes, yes; I am – but you are too late. She is dead.’

Chips writes: This story always struck me as so sad. The passion for position and appearance should lead to conviction and punishment for murder, but the Golden Rule of how we should live our lives is so agreed to on a Sunday but ignored in behavior in the rest of life.

On December 9th…

We continue with the dating of the events of MISS in December (rather than February – as explained in a previous entry) and take today’s event from A Day by Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled by William S Dorn, BSI, DWNP.

December 9, 1896: Oxford defeated Cambridge by a goal and two tries. [MISS]

‘Yes, the local evening paper has an excellent account in its last edition. Oxford won by a goal and two tries. The last sentences of the description say: “The defeat of the Light Blues may be entirely attributed to the unfortunate absence of the crack International, Godfrey Staunton, whose want was felt at every instant of the game. The lack of combination in the three-quarter line and their weakness both in attack and defence more than neutralized the efforts of a heavy and hard-working pack.”‘

[MISS – Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection. Maplewood Books, Kindle Edition]

On December 8…

As mentioned yesterday, a number of chronologists place MISS in December of 1896 or 1897, despite Watson’s own statement that it took place in February.

Based on that, we take this from A Day by Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled by William S Dorn, BSI, DWNP:

December 8, 1896: Holmes visited Dr. Leslie Armstrong [MISS]

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (August, 1904)

It argues the degree in which I had lost touch with my profession that the name of Leslie Armstrong was unknown to me. Now I am aware that he is not only one of the heads of the medical school of the University, but a thinker of European reputation in more than one branch of science. Yet even without knowing his brilliant record one could not fail to be impressed by a mere glance at the man – the square, massive face, the brooding eyes under the thatched brows, and the granite moulding of the inflexible jaw. A man of deep character, a man with an alert mind, grim, ascetic, self-contained, formidable – so I read Dr. Leslie Armstrong. He held my friend’s card in his hand, and he looked up with no very pleased expression upon his dour features.

‘I have heard your name, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, and I am aware of your profession, one of which I by no means approve.’

‘In that, doctor, you will find yourself in agreement with every criminal in the country,’ said my friend quietly.
[MISS – Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection. Maplewood Books, Kindle Edition]

On December 6th…

Dr E W Pritchard and Family. Carte-de-visite from the Howarth-Loomes collection at National Museums Scotland.

Dr Edward William Pritchard was born in Southsea on December 6, 1825. He trained as a physician’s apprentice and served as a ship’s surgeon before eventually settling in Glasgow in 1860. His medical career, however, was of less interest to Holmes than was the murder case which made the papers in 1865.

“Holmes,” I cried, “I seem to see dimly what you are hinting at. We are only just in time to prevent some subtle and horrible crime.”

“Subtle enough and horrible enough. When a doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals. He has nerve and he has knowledge. Palmer and Pritchard were among the heads of their profession. This man strikes even deeper, but I think, Watson, that we shall be able to strike deeper still. But we shall have horrors enough before the night is over; for goodness’ sake let us have a quiet pipe and turn our minds for a few hours to something more cheerful.” (SPEC – Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection. Maplewood Books, Kindle Edition)

Chips writes: I had often wondered about this doctor when reading of that case but had not taken time to look him and his criminal activity, which included the murders of both his wife and his mother-in-law. I suggest that anyone interested in the life of this notorious murderer look into the fabulous volume that Selena and I have been using as our secondary source for this column: A Curious Collection of Dates: Through the Year with Sherlock Holmes, by Leah Guinn and Jaime N Mahoney. Their write-up includes the most fascinating details.

On December 4th…

Langham Hotel (Illustrated London News. July 8, 1865)

Langham Hotel (2009)

December 4, 1878: Mary Morstan visited the Langham Hotel. [SIGN] (A Day by Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled by William S Dorn, BSI, DWNP)

“On reaching London I drove to the Langham, and was informed that Captain Morstan was staying there, but that he had gone out the night before and had not yet returned. I waited all day without news of him. That night, on the advice of the manager of the hotel, I communicated with the police, and next morning we advertised in all the papers. Our inquiries led to no result; and from that day to this no word has ever been heard of my Father.” (Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection. Maplewood Books, Kindle Edition.)

 

As noted yesterday, Dorn places NOBL in December of 1888 (most chronologists place it in October of 1888), so he also gives today’s date for the following events:

Francis Hay Moulton moved to 226 Gordon Square.

Peter Warnock as Francis Moulton in “The Eligible Bachelor” (Granada Television, 1993)

“It might have been difficult, but friend Lestrade held information in his hands the value of which he did not himself know. The initials were, of course, of the highest importance, but more valuable still was it to know that within a week he had settled his bill at one of the most select London hotels.” “How did you deduce the select?” “By the select prices. Eight shillings for a bed and eightpence for a glass of sherry pointed to one of the most expensive hotels. There are not many in London which charge at that rate. In the second one which I visited in Northumberland Avenue, I learned by an inspection of the book that Francis H. Moulton, an American gentleman, had left only the day before, and on looking over the entries against him, I came upon the very items which I had seen in the duplicate bill. His letters were to be forwarded to 226 Gordon Square; so thither I travelled, and being fortunate enough to find the loving couple at home, I ventured to give them some paternal advice and to point out to them that it would be better in every way that they should make their position a little clearer both to the general public and to Lord St. Simon in particular. (Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection. Maplewood Books, Kindle Edition)

Lord Robert St Simon married Hattie Doran.

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (April, 1892)

“Indeed! That is very interesting. And on the morning of the wedding?” “She was as bright as possible—at least until after the ceremony.” “And did you observe any change in her then?” “Well, to tell the truth, I saw then the first signs that I had ever seen that her temper was just a little sharp. The incident however, was too trivial to relate and can have no possible bearing upon the case.” “Pray let us have it, for all that.” “Oh, it is childish. She dropped her bouquet as we went towards the vestry. She was passing the front pew at the time, and it fell over into the pew. There was a moment’s delay, but the gentleman in the pew handed it up to her again, and it did not appear to be the worse for the fall. Yet when I spoke to her of the matter, she answered me abruptly; and in the carriage, on our way home, she seemed absurdly agitated over this trifling cause.” (Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection. Maplewood Books, Kindle Edition)

Hattie Doran disappeared.

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (April, 1892)

“Perhaps, Mrs. Moulton, you would like my friend and me to leave the room while you explain this matter?” “If I may give an opinion,” remarked the strange gentleman, “we’ve had just a little too much secrecy over this business already. For my part, I should like all Europe and America to hear the rights of it.” He was a small, wiry, sunburnt man, clean-shaven, with a sharp face and alert manner. “Then I’ll tell our story right away,” said the lady. (Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection. Maplewood Books, Kindle Edition)

 

 

 

On December 3rd…

December 3, 1878: Captain Arthur Morstan disappeared. [SIGN] (A Day by Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled by William S Dorn, BSI, DWNP)

Terence Skelton as Captain Morstan in “The Sign of Four” (Granada Television, 1987)

In the year 1878 my father, who was senior captain of his regiment, obtained twelve months’ leave and came home. He telegraphed to me from London that he had arrived all safe, and directed me to come down at once, giving the Langham Hotel as his address. His message, as I remember, was full of kindness and love. On reaching London I drove to the Langham, and was informed that Captain Morstan was staying there, but that he had gone out the night before and had not yet returned. I waited all day without news of him. That night, on the advice of the manager of the hotel, I communicated with the police, and next morning we advertised in all the papers. Our inquiries led to no result; and from that day to this no word has ever been heard of my unfortunate father. (Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection. Maplewood Books, Kindle Edition)

Illustration by Josef Friedrich (1906)

A Day by Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled by William S Dorn, also places Frances Hay Moulton’s arrival in London and the newspaper announcement that the St Simon wedding “would be an absolutely quiet one” [NOBL] on this day in 1888, but it is an outlier, as other chronologies are near unanimous in putting the case in October 1888.

“Anything else?” asked Holmes, yawning. “Oh, yes; plenty. Then there is another note in the Morning Post to say that the marriage would be an absolutely quiet one, that it would be at St. George’s, Hanover Square, that only half a dozen intimate friends would be invited, and that the party would return to the furnished house at Lancaster Gate” (Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection. Maplewood Books, Kindle Edition)

 

SS Abyssinia (1870)

“Frank had been a prisoner among the Apaches, had escaped, came on to ‘Frisco, found that I had given him up for dead and had gone to England, followed me there, and had come upon me at last on the very morning of my second wedding.” (Sherlock Holmes: The Ultimate Collection. Maplewood Books, Kindle Edition)

On November 30th…

November 30, 1895: Oberstein was captured in the smoking room of the Charing Cross Hotel. [BRUC]

Image extracted from “London (illustrated). A complete guide to the leading hotels, places of amusement … Also a directory … of first-class reliable houses in the various branches of trade” (1872)
Original held and digitised by the British Library.
This file is from the Mechanical Curator collection, a set of over 1 million images scanned from out-of-copyright books and released to Flickr Commons by the British Library
 View image on Flickr   View all images from book   View catalogue entry for book

Now the letter: “Dear Sir, – With regard to our transaction, you will no doubt have observed by now that one essential detail is missing. I have a tracing which will make it complete. This has involved me in extra trouble, however, and I must ask you for a further advance of five hundred pounds. I will not trust it to the post, nor will I take anything but gold or notes. I would come to you abroad, but it would excite remark if I left the country at present. Therefore I shall expect to meet you in the smoking-room of the Charing Cross Hotel at noon on Saturday. Remember that only English notes, or gold, will be taken.” That will do very well. I shall be very much surprised if it does not fetch our man.’
And it did! It is a matter of history – that secret history of a nation which is often so much more intimate and interesting than its public chronicles – that Oberstein, eager to complete the coup of his lifetime, came to the lure and was safely engulfed for fifteen years in a British prison. In his trunk were found the invaluable Bruce-Partington plans, which he had put up for auction in all the naval centres of Europe.

Source: A Day by Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled by William S Dorn, BSI, DWNP

On November 29th…

Illustration by Walter Paget for The Strand Magazine (December, 1913)

November 29, 1890: Culverton Smith confessed to killing his nephew, Victor Savage. [DYIN]

The very one, by George, and it may as well leave the room in my pocket. There goes your last shred of evidence. But you have the truth now, Holmes, and you can die with the knowledge that I killed you. You knew too much of the fate of Victor Savage, so I have sent you to share it. You are very near your end, Holmes. I will sit here and I will watch you die.

Source: A Day by Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled by William S Dorn, BSI, DWNP

On November 28th…

Illustration by Walter Paget for The Strand Magazine (December, 1913)

November 28, 1890: Holmes fasted for a second day. [DYIN]

He was indeed a deplorable spectacle. In the dim light of a foggy November day the sick-room was a gloomy spot, but it was that gaunt wasted face staring at me from the bed which sent a chill to my heart. His eyes had the brightness of fever, there was a hectic flush upon either cheek, and dark crusts clung to his lips. The thin hands upon the coverlet twitched incessantly. His voice was croaking and spasmodic. He lay listlessly as I entered the room but the sight of me brought a gleam of recognition to his eyes.

On November 27th…

Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes in “The Dying Detective” (Granada, 1994)

November 27, 1890: Holmes fasted. [DYIN]

‘Three days of absolute fast does not improve one’s beauty, Watson. For the rest there is nothing which a sponge may not cure. With vaseline upon one’s forehead, belladonna in one’s eyes, rouge over the cheek-bones, and crusts of beeswax round one’s lips a very satisfying effect can be produced. Malingering is a subject upon which I have sometimes thought of writing a monograph. A little occasional talk about half-crowns, oysters, or any other extraneous subject produces a pleasing effect of delirium.’

Source: A Day by Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled by William S Dorn, BSI, DWNP