Weekly Forum 2015: #21

Today’s discussion is about a link from “Chips” via the Facebook group “The Diogenes BookClub:”

15 Curious Facts About Sherlock Holmes and Sherlockian Subculture

The article features several facts gleaned from the new book “The Great Detective” by Zach Dundas. Several are common knowledge among Sherlockians, Holmesians, and we Watsonians, but I’m sure a great deal of these were a surprise to those not so familiar with the world of the great detective and his loyal friend.

What is a fact or two that you find tends to surprise people who are only familiar with Sherlock Holmes through pop culture?

(For me, my friends were very surprised to hear about Sherlockian societies – they were not aware that so many existed!)

9 Replies to “Weekly Forum 2015: #21”

  1. Many civilians out there are still surprised by the most basic facts, such as the “Elementary, my dear Watson” not belonging in the original stories.
    A couple of years back in one of our meetings I gave a talk about “The ten Urban Myths you believe in about Sherlock Holmes” for a group of high school students. The item that amazed them most was about Holmes’s presumed drug addiction, when I told that heroin and cocaine were commonly sold at apothecaries’s stores in the late XIX century and when I showed actual advertisements of cocaine drops for children’s toothaches and the like.

  2. I agree with Reggie that few non-Sherlockians today (and even some Sherlockians) are not aware that Sherlock’s drug-taking was totally legal. Many non-Sherlockians are also probably unaware of the connection with Poe’s work or with Bell. I myself never heard of the earlier German “consulting detective.”

    I suspect besides not knowing the facts described in the article, many non-Sherlockians do “know” facts that aren’t true, among them that Holmes was in love with Irene Adler, that Moriarty was a villain who haunted Holmes throughout the stories, and for some of an earlier generation, that Watson was stupid, a “boobus Britannicus.” Of course ACD himself called Watson Holmes’s “rather stupid friend,” which I’m sure very few non-Sherlockians know.

  3. That book is so new, it has a publication date that hasn’t arrived yet! I’m actually in the middle of reading a review copy myself.

    While non-Sherlockians might not know the connection with Poe, I’ll just note here that Watson makes the connection himself in STUD, with the comment, “You remind me of Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin. I had no idea that such individuals did exist outside of stories.”

    Every so often, I’m surprised at how thoroughly the idea of Holmes and Watson has permeated the culture. Last year, I ran across this line in a mystery for Middle Grade Readers called _Ghosts of Tupelo Landing_: “I am to Anna Celeste as Sherlock Holmes is to Moriarty: Enemies for life.” Mo (who says that) would probably be surprised to learn about Moriarty’s very few appearances.

    There are definitely people who are surprised by the fact that Holmes dies halfway through through the (published order of the) stories and comes back. Leah Scheier said on twitter that she got messages from readers asking how she dared kill off Holmes in 1891 in her novel, _Secret Letters_.

    Pardon me, I have another Facebook group to go join….

  4. I recently visited with a friend that I had not seen in 35 years (!), and I was trying to explain my SH/JW fixation to her. She knows nothing about Holmes and has not read any of the stories. (How is that possible?!) She told me to introduce her to it via something she might like–like the ‘candy version’ she said. So I had her watch A Study in Pink. A few minutes into the program, she paused it and told me she was confused about Watson limping. I asked why, and she says “Well, everybody told me that Dr House is just like Sherlock Holmes and Wilson is just like Watson. I liked that show. So why does this one have Watson limping instead of Holmes?” I was surprised.

  5. Oh, and along those lines–received this advertisement for a silver Sherlock Holmes coin today. The text was a bit off the mark–to say the least!

    Sherlock Holmes Sails Back From The Dead
    Sherlock Holmes has sailed off the pages of literature and into our hears for more than 120 years. This 2014 Sherlock Holmes One-Ounce Silver Dollar Proof is struck in one ounce of 99.99% fine silver. The reverse depicts Holmes with his distinctive hat and smoking pipe. Its part of a series that celebrates ‘Ships that Never Sailed’ from literature, and features the Gloria Scott. After a public outcry over Holmes being killed by Doyle in 1893, he was resurrected by returning on the Gloria Scott in the book The Memoires of Sherlock Holmes, published in 1894.

    –You have to wonder where the ad copy people got this information? 🙂

    1. A friend of mine recently returned from a trip to Thailand, and brought me one of those coins. It’s a Tuvalu dollar, minted in Australia apparently. It’s accompanied by a tiny brochure-like “certificate of authenticity” that has a pretty good summary of “The Gloria Scott,” and includes no mention of the rather bizarre text in the ad you saw.

  6. From the book “The return of Jack Prendergast”, of course. 😀
    In June 1893, a Norwegian named Sigerson arrives in a Terai tea plant. The owner of the plant, Victor Trevor, is astonished in recognizing in the Scandinavian traveller his old friend Sherlock Holmes. After spending two years in Tibet, Holmes is on his way back to Europe. But he made a detour to warn his old friend. The old “Gloria Scott” story, that cost Trevor’s father his life, is haunting Victor’s existence again. It seems that Jack Prendergast did not die in the wreck of the vessel many years before and is now an agent for the Russian Empire. Holmes must save his old friend and bring back to England the informations he has gathered about the Russian web of spies. The voyage back home on a vessel called, for a strange twist of fate, ‘Gloria Scott II’, (formerly the “Alicia”) will be full of troubles and mortal dangers…

    (I’m afraid that if we wait long enough someone will write THIS story, too… :D)

  7. Reggie: I’m sure it will be available on demand on Amazon next week! 😉

Comments are closed.