Wow! You ARE Good!


Margie Deck “Gwen” and Sheila Holtgrieve “Daisy” also solved the question with this complete, fascinating and accurate submission:

Question: This dilettante was known by two names: Blackwood and Dufferin. How does this person figure in the Canon? Please name the person, how the connection comes and the story or book in which it appears.

Definition of dilettante:

a person who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment

  • archaic: a person with an amateur interest in the arts

Answer #1:

Helen Selina Blackwood, Baroness Dufferin and Claneboye, later Helen Selina Hay, Countess of Gifford, born Helen Selina Sheridan, (1807 – 13 June 1867), was a British songwriter, composer, poet, and author. Admired for her wit and literary talents, she was a well-known figure in London society of the mid-19th century. From childhood Helen had written poems, songs and prologues for private theatrical productions. After she and [sister] Caroline jointly brought out a Set of ten Songs and two Duets, she started to publish her verse, sometimes set to her own music. Her name was not usually printed at first, but she did not stay entirely anonymous. In 1863 a play of hers was staged, and in the same year she published an account of her travels up the Nile with her son. This poked fun at writing by lady travellers; the title Lispings from Low Latitudes, or, Extracts from the Journal of the Hon. Impulsia Gushington echoed [son] Frederick’s book Letters From High Latitudes. The purpose of the play was to satire travel literature, specifically that of women, during the time period. Her play, Finesse, or, A Busy Day in Messina, produced at the Haymarket Theatre with John Baldwin Buckstone as one of the actors, was a success, but the writer did not go to any of the performances, nor acknowledge her authorship.

RETI, W., p. 1115 : “On that particular evening old Amberley, wishing to give his wife a treat, had taken two upper circle seats at the Haymarket Theatre.”

And———speaking of Frederick, her son:

Answer #2:

Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of Duffein and Ava, could be considered a person with an amateur interest in the arts as he became president of the Oxford Union Society for debate, but left Oxford after only two years without obtaining a degree; he commissioned schooners and a steamer to journey around the north Atlantic, eventually publishing a book about this travels.  Although the book was a success, he did not pursue a career as an author, instead became a public servant, with diplomatic postings in Syria, Canada (Governor General), Imperial Russia, India (Viceroyalty), Egypt (British Commissioner), Italy and French, and facilitated British diplomatic work in Afghanistan and Burma. He initiated sporting prizes; he initiated heritage preservation of historic sites; he initiated the building of the Dufferin Terrace.  He later served, rather badly, as chairman of the London and Globe Finance Corporation.  Hi biographer Davenport-Hines says he was imaginative, sympathetic, warm-hearted, and gloriously versatile; he was an effective leader in Lebanon, Canada and India, averted war with Russia, and annexed Burma; he was careless of money but charming in high society in three continents.

–The careless of money and charming in three continents sounds very familiar concerning our good Dr. Watson, but, perhaps, this diplomat would be more closely associated with Mycroft:

BRUC, W., p. 914: “We will suppose that a minister needs information as to a point which involves the Navy, India, Canada and the bimetallic question.”


Michele Lopez “Reggie” sends along his correct solution below:

“The person is Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava. His connection with the Canon derives from the fact that he was Governor General of Canada from 1872 to 1878. While there, he visited Manitoba and inaugurated a part of the Canadian Pacific Railway. BLAC.”

Now, for a bit of coincidence: Enrico “Devon” sends along his correct solution below:

“Helen Selina Blackwood, Lady Dufferin, who wrote the words of a popular ballade. The first line “I’m sitting on the tile, Mary” is quoted in VALL, as sang by Mc Murdo.”

This solution is also correct and, interestingly, Helen Selina Sheridan Blackwood, the lyric writer, was Lady Dufferin and the mother of Frederick Hamilton Temple Blackwood, Marquis of Dufferin.

Two excellent scholars from Italy have solved an obscure question set in Pennsylvania, USA in VALL, involving an Irish marquis, born in Florence, Italy, who became the Governor of Canada and whose mother wrote the lyrics to a popular song also known as “The Lament of the Irish Immigrant.” both “Reggie” and “Devon” have different answers and are both correct. Amazing!

So, the answer can be:  Helen Selina Blackwood, Lady Dufferin, or her son, Frederick Hamilton Temple Blackwood, and both have Canonical connections.

Within an hour, we had four correct submissions on this week’s quiz involving “ermine”!  You are all so good that Buttons has to defend his honour and offer one more really obscure quiz question for your week-end:

This dilettante was known by two names: Blackwood and Dufferin. How does this person figure in the Canon? Please name the person, how the connection comes and the story or book in which it appears.

That ought to occupy all of you Quiz Masters for more than an hour!