Six Gems of Advice from Sherlock Holmes, the Hero of My Book

Sketch from Punch Magazine, June 1894

He saved lives and stymied many a cruel plot, but he’s not what’s known as a people person. I draw each of these guidelines from Holmes’ own behavior in Conan Doyle’s original stories. Keep in mind that my hero does the best he can with the gifts he has to make life better for all of us. Who can do more?   

1) Romantic relationships only drain your energy for better things. I mean it. Don’t even pretend to indulge such a thing unless you are disguised and or it’s necessary to solve a crime. If you have to convince yourself of this, you are lost already.  It goes without saying that you can and should love your queen—from a safe distance.

2) Dogs are more likely to be reliable. Rent one if you need one.

3) Never draw easy conclusions. Don’t assume. Check it out. The so-called “obvious truth” or “what people say” is nonsense. You must gather the facts yourself. Until you have assembled those facts you are only gathering data. Leave it at that, unless you want to be as inept as Scotland Yard.

4) Your brain has only so much space. Be on guard against unnecessary information. I refuse to know about the solar system, for instance.  

5) Live alone, unless you can’t afford it. If you must “share rooms,” choose an easy-going person unlike yourself, one who is likely to be useful to you.

6) As an afterthought to #1. If your logical brain goes wonky and insists on a relationship with a soon-to-be-married opera diva from New Jersey, limit yourself to witnessing her wedding–in disguise.  Afterward, you may allow yourself to retain a photograph of the woman. Do not buy, steal, or purchase the photograph.  As the lady had a last maidenly fling (or a dance, anyway) with a king too ashamed of her to marry her, that gentleman has a photo he will let you have if you ask politely.

Available Now from Propertius Press and Amazon at links below~

The game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall as WWI ends. From his rural cottage, Holmes no longer provokes Scotland Yard’s envy or his landlady’s impatience, but neither is he content with the study of bees. August 1920 finds him filling out entry papers at a nearly defunct psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. England’s new Dangerous Drugs Act declares his cocaine use illegal and he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” Holmes hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. His scribbled response, “no more solutions, but one true resolution,” seems more a vow than a goal to his psychiatrist, Pierre Joubert. The doctor is right. Like a tiny explosion unaccountably shifting a far-reaching landscape, the simple words churn desperate action and interlocking mystery into the lives of Holmes’ friends and enemies both.

Susanne M. Dutton is a Philadelphian writing fiction and poetry. She’s the one who hid during high school gym, produced an alternative newspaper and exchanged notes in Tolkien’s Elfish language with her few friends. While earning her B.A. in English, she drove a shabby Ford Falcon with a changing array of homemade bumper strips:  Art for Art’s Sake, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Free Bosie from the Scorn of History. Later, her interests in myth and depth psychology led to graduate and postgraduate degrees in counseling. 

Nowadays, having outlived her mortgage and her professional counseling life, she aims herself at her desk most days; where she tangles with whatever story she can’t get out of her head.

https://www.propertiuspress.com/our-bookstore/Sherlock-Holmes-and-the-Remaining-Improbable-by-Susanne-Dutton-p310417036

OR

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1678075310/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_J3EJWBA5ASJJ2KCJCYR3?fbclid=IwAR3cmhWfllK0UaaT4WHbjZGXnBuhTvnyJ74clHMcAu3_d5voz9mGCU2hLYw

Thank you!

Poetry Leaks and Imaginary Friends Stick Around

My friend Gina, back when she was partly imaginary, and me.

 From Reviews and Interviews

 by Blogger and Author

Lisa Haselton

(with a couple expanded answers)

Do you ever read your stories out loud?

Always. I favor sentences that sound good, and sound good next to one another, though mine don’t always measure up. It’s only a goal leaking over from my poetry, or the poetry I enjoy, anyway. Stories are composed, just like music, as are sentences and paragraphs. This has nothing to do with “rose” and “toes.” Also, it’s absolutely the best way to catch mistakes.

Can you tell us about your main character and who inspired him/her?


My main character was invented by Arthur Conan Doyle based on Joseph Bell, a professor at the Edinburgh medical school Conan Doyle attended. Of course, that’s only part of it because hundreds of writers and many actors have contributed to the Holmes mythology. It would be fair to say that my inspiration was a piece of the Holmes story that seems missing to me and that I haven’t seen anywhere else. So I wrote it. I was ambushed by the idea as I walked around a Philly art museum and into a room full of 18th C French art. Although my Holmes is the classic guy, I knew this idea could bring something new to Conan Doyle’s stories, though it’s not mentioned in the official Holmes biography by William Baring-Gold. (Yes, Holmes has an official biography. I suppose Holmes authorized Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street—in so far as a made-up fellow can authorize anything.)

Do you listen to music when you’re writing?

I listen to the sounds on the street, like the garbage truck and the sanitation workers kidding each other. I hear the regional rail go by, squirrels scrambling over the tile roof, wind, and dogs barking.

Have you ever had an imaginary friend?
Not in the sense that I had to leave extra space on the subway bench or save half my sandwich. I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that all of my friends have been imaginary–but only at first and only partly. After all, my best friend is someone I got to know slowly over time. If we are to stay friends I have to let go of some of what I initially imagined about that person. Then the imaginary parts change into the reality and the realities morph into new realities. That’s a good question for a friend. What did you imagine about me when we met?

Do you have any phobias?
For a long time I had just one phobia: very large crowds. I left town when the Pope came to Philly and found myself sitting at a hotel bar in San Diego, watching it on television, thrilled at a distance. The second phobia came about when I was served a spinach salad at a tiny little restaurant near my home. I suffered for hours that night. I go back to the pub, no problem, but I hold all spinach responsible, forever.

Tell us about your latest release.
Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable* is a Sherlock Holmes mystery, but the game is not afoot. WWI has ended. The glory days the 1890’s are gone. No one believes any longer that the world is “getting better in every way, every day.” In response to the rise in cocaine addiction, the Dangerous Drugs Act has made the drug illegal and Holmes aims to quit. He fills out entry papers at a rundown clinic on the coast of Normandy. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” Holmes hesitates, realizing his real goal far exceeds anything any clinic could do for him. His scribbled answer, “no more solutions, but one true resolution,” strikes his doctor as more a vow than a goal—and the doctor is right. Very soon the little phrase churns up a far-reaching, desperate, interlocking mystery that changes the lives of Holmes’ friends and enemies both.

Link to Propertius Press:

https://www.propertiuspress.com/our-bookstore/Sherlock-Holmes-and-the-Remaining-Improbable-by-Susanne-Dutton-p310417036

 

“Men see through a change of dress long before they see through a lack of it.” Sherlock Holmes in “Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable” by Susanne Dutton

“… my turn that way is in my veins, and may have come with my grandmother, who was the sister of Vernet, the French artist. Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms.” Sherlock in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter.

French artist, Carle Vernet (1758-1843) Holmes’ ancestor, portrait by Robert Lefevre (1755-1830)

Watson writes:

Joubert spoke eagerly to Holmes. “You have managed a disguise?”

 “Yes. Simple, but effective. I am half naked and barefoot. I have torn away one leg of my trousers entirely and, otherwise, kept my vest. The cinders work well to dirty my hands, arms, legs, and feet. A rag, held in place by a piece of the fishing net, serves as a kind of veil. Do not doubt it! Nakedness is one of the finest of disguises. Men see through a change of dress long before they see through a lack of it.”

I couldn’t help a burst of laughter, but when Joubert glared at me, I nodded my acquiescence. His attention reverted to Holmes.  “I hunch forward,” my colleague explained, “and affect an exaggerated limp, dragging my right leg . . . Moving to the edge of the crowd . . . I follow a man who has lost both legs from the knee down. He pushes himself along in a flat, small-wheeled cart, jeering as heartily as the rest . . . He wears a military jacket—split up the sides and faded, held to his chest with what might be a gentleman’s stocking. Across his thighs is draped a flag of the republic, doubtless torn from its place outside one of the big city houses . . . but I pass easily in his wake, for I am bizarre, but not so remarkable as he. The mob grows, and yet we two seem to be able to move through it, into the center. Everyone fears our filth, our stench—and the disease they presume. . . A boy with a drum joins the crowd. . . Then the same chant.

Susanne Dutton is a Philadelphian writing fiction and poetry. She’s the one who hid during high school gym, produced an alternative newspaper and exchanged notes in Tolkien’s Elfish language with her few friends. While earning her B.A. in English, she drove a shabby Ford Falcon with a changing array of homemade bumper strips:  Art for Art’s Sake, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Free Bosie from the Scorn of History. Later, her interests in myth and depth psychology led to graduate and postgraduate degrees in counseling. 

Nowadays, having outlived her mortgage and her professional counseling life, she aims herself at her desk most days; where she tangles with whatever story she can’t get out of her head.

Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Susanne grew up in the SF Bay Area, has two grown children, and lives with her husband in an old Philadelphia house, built of the stones dug from the ground where it sits. 

https://www.propertiuspress.com/our-bookstore/Sherlock-Holmes-and-the-Remaining-Improbable-by-Susanne-Dutton-p310417036

Seeing Through Watson’s Wiles: An Excerpt from Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable

Sleight of Hand Shadow Play from Punch Magazine, 1893

Watson speaks:

“We were that obvious?”

“I’m afraid so,” Holmes said. “In fact, when I have time, I will publish a monograph on what I will call ‘body language.’ Today’s performance will serve as a prime example. I watched you usher this Frenchman across the cottage—your hesitation, your caution lest you cause him the least pain, was evident. Your care was exactly as you would grant a lifelong patient going through a complicated procedure. You watched his every backward step, lest he trip. I noted the commiserating tilt of your head—and the lines of concern on your brow. Without a single word, you managed to signal your sympathy. To sum up, between the gun and the man you pointed it at, I detected at least a hundred yards worth of high-grade Watsonian scruple.

Available for $4.99 Pre-order till June 1st, at link:

https://www.propertiuspress.com/our-bookstore/Sherlock-Holmes-and-the-Remaining-Improbable-by-Susanne-Dutton-p310417036

Susanne Dutton is a Philadelphian writing fiction and poetry. She’s the one who hid during high school gym, produced an alternative newspaper and exchanged notes in Tolkien’s Elfish language with her few friends. While earning her B.A. in English, she drove a shabby Ford Falcon with a changing array of homemade bumper strips:  Art for Art’s Sake, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Free Bosie from the Scorn of History. Later, her interests in myth and depth psychology led to graduate and postgraduate degrees in counseling. 

Nowadays, having outlived her mortgage and her professional counseling life, she aims herself at her desk most days; where she tangles with whatever story she can’t get out of her head.

Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Susanne grew up in the SF Bay Area, has two grown children, and lives with her husband in an old Philadelphia house, built of the stones dug from the ground where it sits. 

Rejection Callous, etc.

Here I am, snowplowing this past February, meditating on the next story.

Interview with Susanne M. Dutton, author of Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable with # via:
“Characters” from Andi Candrel’s Cooks, Crafts and Characters, excerpt


Do you ever wish you were someone else?
I often wish for more of some qualities and less of others, although I’ve never had a particular person in mind. Why can’t I be more patient? I want to wait in line without fuming. Why can’t I perform patient work, like hemming my jeans, without making a mess of it? More self-control is high on my wanna-be list, too. I want to eat half the giant butter pretzel, get in the 10K steps and write as many words as Charles Dickens did in a day. His daily word count was so high I have actually repressed it. On the other hand, he had some qualities I can do without. I read that he felt a need to rearrange the furniture in his hotel rooms, for instance. No thank you to actually being another person.


What part of the writing process do you dread?
Dread is a strong word. Sometimes I just lose whatever it takes to get me to my desk. A friend once gave me a dollhouse picture frame, smaller than a postage stamp, with a tiny hanging chain. She said, “Just sit down and fill up the frame.” It hangs on my desktop’s screen right now and it works. I manage enough words to fill up that inch square space and before I even think about it, I’ve got a page or two. Another dread? Rejections are hard, but eventually I received so many I earned a callous against them.


Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
My attention gets diverted, that’s for sure, but that’s not the same as writer’s block. If I don’t have a deadline, I let the diversion happen. The diversion might be just what the story needs.


Tell us about your latest release.
The book is a Sherlock Holmes mystery, but the game is not afoot, not yet. WWI has ended. The glory days the 1890’s are gone. No one believes any longer that the world is “getting better in every way, every day.” In response to the rise in cocaine addiction, the Dangerous Drugs Act has made the drug illegal and Holmes aims to quit. He fills out entry papers at a rundown clinic on the coast of Normandy. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” Holmes hesitates, realizing his real goal far exceeds anything any clinic could do for him. His scribbled answer, “no more solutions, but one true resolution,” strikes his doctor as more a vow than a goal—and the doctor is right. Very soon the little phrase churns up a far-reaching, desperate, interlocking mystery that changes the lives of Holmes’ friends and enemies both.

Release June 1, 2021: Preorder link (ebook $4.99 until release) for Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable at Propertius Press:

https://www.propertiuspress.com/our-bookstore/Sherlock-Holmes-and-the-Remaining-Improbable-by-Susanne-Dutton-p310417036

The Most Unique and Outrageous Case You Never Heard About

August 1920 finds Sherlock Holmes filling out entry papers at Le Dieppe Clinique on the Normandy coast. England’s new Dangerous Drugs Act declares his cocaine use illegal and he aims to quit entirely. Though his psychiatrist, Pierre Joubert, has long admired Holmes, the detective proves an irascible patient. He correctly diagnoses his doctor’s own ailments and denies his professional assumptions. He demands quieter rooms, claims that clinic meals cramp him and rejects group therapy outright. No wonder the patient count dwindles, Holmes complains. His doctor is satisfied, however. Signs are good. It’s all part of a necessary adjustment. Holmes walks in the countryside—albeit after dark—and a fierce game of singles tennis seems to break the awful tedium that gnaws at him. Though he jokes that he can cheat the new Word Association test, he tries it, intrigued by its potential for criminal investigation. Hypnosis fascinates Holmes as well, until in one trance he regresses beyond vivid boyhood memories of his father’s French art collection to an ancestor’s disturbing experience in the French Revolution. Joubert adamantly counsels that these images are not history, only unique creations of the psyche. Perhaps they can put this exploration off until later? Holmes shakes his head, “Not today, or any day.”  

Five weeks into his treatment, the detective’s eyesight weakens. His weight drops. A wheeled chair and an orderly prove necessary. Sleep eludes him, replaced by ominous hallucinations. Then his personal belongings go missing and reappear, strangely altered. Two of these tricks strike Holmes as childish. The last is different, though not the usual threat of violence. This is deeply personal, darker and even more troubling. Has he such an enemy in Dieppe?

So it is that Watson tears into another telegram from the detective, the first in years, and so it is that, convenient or not, he anxiously entrains at Victoria Station on his way to Holmes.

Susanne Dutton is a Philadelphian writing fiction and poetry. She’s the one who hid during high school gym, produced an alternative newspaper and exchanged notes in Tolkien’s Elfish language with her few friends. While earning her B.A. in English, she drove a shabby Ford Falcon with a changing array of homemade bumper strips:  Art for Art’s Sake, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Free Bosie from the Scorn of History. Later, her interests in myth and depth psychology led to graduate and postgraduate degrees in counseling. 

Nowadays, having outlived her mortgage and her professional counseling life, she aims herself at her desk most days; where she tangles with whatever story she can’t get out of her head.

Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Susanne grew up in the SF Bay Area, has two grown children, and lives with her husband in an old Philadelphia house, built of the stones dug from the ground where it sits. 

Release June 1, 2021: Preorder link for Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable at Propertius Press:

https://www.propertiuspress.com/our-bookstore/Sherlock-Holmes-and-the-Remaining-Improbable-by-Susanne-Dutton-p310417036

The Largest Mourning Warehouse in Europe

“Then, in the winter of 1867-68, the boy’s health worsened. He was growing fast, and thin … He was taken to London to see an eminent specialist.” Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street, Sir William S. Baring-Gould, Holmes’ biographer.

Advertisement London Illustrated News:

FAMILY MOURNING,made up and trimmed in the most correct and approved Taste, may be obtained at the most reasonable Prices, at Peter Robinson’s. Goods are sent free of charge, for selection, to all parts of England (with dressmaker, if desired) upon receipt of letter, order or telegram; and Patterns are sent with Book of Ilustrations, to all parts of the world.The Court and General Mourning Warehouse,256-262, Regent Street, London; The Largest Mourning Warehouse in Europe.

PETER ROBINSON’S.

Perhaps if 13 year old Sherlock had not survived, the Holmes family, living in Yorkshire, would have turned to Peter Robinson’s Court and General Mourning Warehouse. Note that “goods” may be sent along with a dressmaker, if desired, to any part of England. Talk about convenience. Then again, given that every member of the family and some of the extended family would be wearing mourning for some time to come, there was a lot of work, payment and often room and board, for the dressmaker.

Holmes’ parents and brothers, Sherrinford and Mycroft, would have dressed in mourning for six months to a year. Aunts and uncles, 3 to 6 months. Cousins and aunts related by marriage, 6 weeks to 3 months. Such mourning practice was not something confined to the upperclass, but a mainstay of middle class respectability.

Neither was it confined to the English. It’s famously true that Queen Victoria, whose husband, Prince Albert, died when she was 41 in 1861, wore mourning until 1901 when she herself died. It’s also true that Mary Todd Lincoln, made a widow by President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, wore mourning for seventeen years until her death in 1882.

1″ X 1/2″ Victorian mourning brooch, centered on a minute woven design of loved one’s hair.

Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable by Susanne M. Dutton

The game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall as WWI ends. From his rural home, Holmes no longer provokes Scotland Yard’s envy or his landlady’s impatience, but neither is he content with the study of bees. August 1920 finds him filling out entry papers at a nearly defunct psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. England’s new Dangerous Drugs Act declares his cocaine use illegal and he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” Holmes hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. His scribbled response, “no more solutions, but one true resolution,” seems more a vow than a goal to his psychiatrist, Pierre Joubert. The doctor is right. Like a tiny explosion unaccountably shifting a far-reaching landscape, the simple words churn desperate action and interlocking mystery into the lives of Holmes’ friends and enemies both. 

Preorder Link: https://www.propertiuspress.com/our-bookstore/Sherlock-Holmes-and-the-Remaining-Improbable-by-Susanne-Dutton-p310417036

Watson: Dunderheaded Sidekick?

Photo by Thomas Debray

The Holmes/Watson dynamic…

As a writer, I often think of  Holmes and Watson together as a dual protagonist. Say Arthur Conan Doyle had created a more Watsonish Holmes detective, an amalgam of the two characters. We’d have far less fun, energetic stories with a far less intriguing but more completely human hero. Holmes’ genius insists on objective truth over personal expectation, historical precedent, comfort or sentiment. We meet his brother Mycroft, but he is otherwise a monolithically lone character, excepting the vague French ancestors. The “dull routines” of human existence are no match for the “exultation” Holmes “craves” in A Scandal in Bohemia. Empathetic, tolerant Watson hopes to please. He falls like a brick for the innocent, generous and deeply good Mary Morstan because he is so, himself. He calls Holmes “the best and wisest man,” but Sherlock plays with the good guy bounds for the sake of his work, usually as a trickster. As he admits, he could have been a successful criminal or actor. His many sly disguises are crucial to his strategies. Watson grieves, but he must continue to believe for years that Holmes is dashed to death at the Reichenbach Falls. In “The Dying Detective,” Holmes denies Watson’s medical competence to his face, for the sake of the case. A downright mean Holmes encourages Milverson’s housemaid to develop a crush on him, even going so far as asking her to marry him– in order to get into the villainous blackmailer’s home. Watson is no genius, but he fits into the places that Holmes doesn’t take up–and he fills them out beautifully.

Albert Einstein said, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” Though Watson defaults to the stolidly traditional, he can be convinced to “stretch,” as he accompanies Holmes, whereas Holmes is less malleable. Only in music does something else seem to reach him, something bordering on the mystical. Together, Holmes and Watson are a truly dynamic duo, giving the stories something important, a more fully human heroic presence.

Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable by Susanne Dutton, at Propertius Press*

The Game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall, as WWI ends. Holmes fills out entry papers at a rundown psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. Now that the law declares his cocaine use illegal, he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” he hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. Holmes’ scribbled response, never before encountered by his long-experienced doctor, soon churns interlocking mystery and desperate action into the lives of enemies and friends both.

* https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store

A Culture Spoofs Itself 120+ Years Ago

That well-travelled sophisticated class of person:

Client to Architect: “I want it to be nice and baronial, Queen Anne and Elizabethan, and all that; kind of quaint and Nurembergy, you know–regular Old English with French Windows opening to the lawn, and Venetian blinds, and sort of Swiss Balconies, and Loggia. But I’m sure you know what I mean!”

More globe trotting sophisticates:

Punch Magazine 1890

Mr. James: And were you in Rome?

American Lady: I guess not. (Turns to daughter) Say Bella, did we visit Rome?

Daughter: Why certainly, Mama! Don’t your remember? It was in Rome we bought the Lisle-thread stockings!

Legend says that in early 1797 clothier John Hetherington was the first man to wear a silk tophat in London: a review in 1897.

Punch Magazine 1897

On the centenary of the tall hat

A hundred years of hideousness,

Constricted brows, and strain, and stress!

And still, despite humanity’s groan,

The torturing “tall hat” holds its own!

What proof more sure and melancholy

Of the dire depths of mortal folly?

Mad was the hatter who invented the demon “topper,”

and demented the race that, spite of pain and jeers,

Has borne it–for One Hundred Years!

The Latest Thing from Paris

Punch Magazine 1897

Ratcatcher, eyeing their hand muffs: Beg your pardon, Ladies, but would you mind telling me where you get all the rats from? I’ve been out for the last week and can’t come across any at all!

The Gentlemen of the Press

Punch Magazine 1899

Journalism in France vs. Journalism in England

An Invention for Making the Law Less Dry

The Strand Magazine 1893

The Meeker, Gentler Sex

Punch Magazine 1905

He: But I thought you’d forgiven me for that and promised to forget it?

She: But I didn’t promise to forget I’d forgiven.

Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable* by Susanne M. Dutton, from Propertius Press

The game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall as WWI ends. From his rural cottage, Sherlock Holmes no longer provokes Scotland Yard’s envy or his landlady’s impatience, but neither is he content with the study of bees. August 1920 finds Holmes filling out entry papers at a nearly defunct psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. England’s new Dangerous Drugs Act declares his cocaine use illegal and he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” Holmes hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. His scribbled response, “no more solutions, but one true resolution,” seems more a vow than a goal to his psychiatrist, Pierre Joubert. The doctor is right. Like a tiny explosion unaccountably shifting a far-reaching landscape, the simple words churn desperate action and interlocking mystery into the lives of Holmes’ friends and enemies both.

A Case More Suppressed Than “The Giant Rat of Sumatra”

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

John Watson scanned the late afternoon telegram, terse as always, originating in Eastbourne and directed to his London surgery.

4 October 1920

The game is afoot. Please take the Brighton Line from Victoria at ten in the morning. Revolver unnecessary. Sherlock Holmes

Surely, Holmes missed their old life together as much as he. Giving the message pride of place on the mantle shelf, he fell in seconds into being not just Doctor Watson, but “Watson, Confederate and Chronicler.” A hurried leave of absence? All too easy to arrange, he thought. As he’d cut back his surgery hours, his patients had transferred their loyalties with unflattering alacrity to his younger partner.

So it happens that, after a number of years, Watson entrains again for Eastbourne and finds himself caught up in the most unique and outrageous Holmes adventure no one will ever hear about.

MORE: Victorians Mess With 21C Expectations

Punch Magazine, London, January 1895: caption below

Child seen AND heard from makes a point:

Mamma: “Today’s our wedding anniversary, Tommy. You should stand up and drink our healths.”

Tommy, rising to the occasion: “Certainly. Father–Mother–and (pointing to himself)–the result!”

Farewell Jane Austen

Punch Magazine, London, 1895 caption below:

A book review under discussion by the author (in hat and veil) and her publisher:

“We think Lips That Have Gone Astray the foulest novel that ever yet defiled the English tongue; and that in absolute filth its Author can give any modern French writer six and beat him hollow!” The Parthenon Press

Author points to review, which has been quoted in publisher’s advertisement for the novel:“And pray, Mr. Shardson, what do you mean by inserting this hideous notice?

Publisher: “You must remember that we have paid you a large price for your book–and brought it out at great expense–and we naturally wish to sell it!”

An Englishman’s home is his castle…..

Punch Magazine 1895 “The Compensating Circumstances” caption below:

Sympathetic Visitor: Poor dear Mr. Smith, how he must suffer with all that sneezing and coughing.”

Mrs. Smith: He does, indeed; but you can’t think how it amuses the baby!”

Coming This Spring from Propertius Press* and Susanne Dutton

Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable

The Game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall, as WWI ends. Holmes fills out entry papers at a rundown psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. Now that the law declares his cocaine use illegal, he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” he hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. Holmes’ scribbled response, never before encountered by his long-experienced doctor, soon churns interlocking mystery and desperate action into the lives of enemies and friends both.

* https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store

Victorians Mess with 21C Expectations

Punch Magazine‘s 1905 intuitive fantasy includes earbuds

Caption: “Dance when and where you like. Choose your own time and tune.” (Note EARBUDS on dancers’ heads and “boom boxes” conveniently strapped to backs in October 1905 Punch Magazine.) In the same year, tiny chalk dancers lead to violence and murder when Hilton Cubitt asks Holmes to decipher their meaning in The Adventure of the Dancing Men.

As The Naval Treaty, concerning Watson’s friend, Tadpole Phelps and his fiancée, is published in 1893, this poem pokes fun at wedding customs in The Star Newspaper of Guernsey, an UK island in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy. The poem was anonymous, but also front page.

When a man and maiden marry, hearts of lead their friends all carry.

Custom as they know demands, costly presents at their hands;

Ostentation, too, coerces, so they empty out their purses–

Fearful lest their names be missed from that always published list.

But in private, in a passion they denounce the sordid fashion

Crying in most bitter strain, “Only fancy, fleeced again.”

Bah, ’tis an event to dread, when a man and maiden wed.

Punch Magazine 1905

In Punch Magazine 1905, a man discovers that both his wife and mother-in-law have acquired bicycles (including all the gear) and are ready to accompany him on his ride. He is not overcome with “unmixed delight,” as Oscar Wilde would put it. In the Adventure of the Priory School, Holmes reveals that he has made a study of 42 types of bicycle treads. His knowledge of Dunlop and Palmer tires provides clues.

Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable coming soon from Propertius Press* and Susanne Dutton

The Game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall, as WWI ends. Holmes fills out entry papers at a rundown psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. Now that the law declares his cocaine use illegal, he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” he hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. Holmes’ scribbled response, never before encountered by his long-experienced doctor, soon churns interlocking mystery and desperate action into the lives of enemies and friends both.

* https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store

Holmes @ Le Dieppe Clinique – Excerpt from his Admittance Interview*….. August 1920

Photo by Chelle Bertand

21 August 1920

Patient: Holmes, Sherlock

Age: 66…….Birth Date: 6 January 1854……….Citizenship: UK

Address:  Bolt Cottage, near Beachy Head, Eastbourne, England         

Height: 190.5 cm………..Weight: 72 kg………..BP: K 100/60

Marital Status:  never married      Occupation: consulting detective, retired

Presenting Issue(s):  underweight/malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies. Self-reported: inability to concentrate, bad dreams, insomnia, “Peace of mind at a new low.”

Visitors:  None expected.

Comment:  M. Holmes is admitted on his own authority. He transferred cocaine in his possession, and associated paraphernalia, to this clinic. He arrives with a large number of trunks. I approved all to be taken to his room, contingent on inspection. Contents included constituents of patient’s favoured diet—tins of tea, crackers, honey of a peculiar red colour, assorted packs of cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, pipes, at least two hundred books. Also, violin in case, music stand, sheet music. A small ormolu clock, walking stick. One trunk clothing.

+Nurse La Fon says M. Holmes has been shown to his room, but requests immediate transfer to a more secluded area or reallocation of patients in adjacent rooms due to “incessant raucous activity” therein. She sees no reason why the clinic should not move M. Holmes to a more private location. I concur.

Pierre Joubert, Director

*Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable by Susanne Dutton, soon at Propertius Press*

The Game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall, as WWI ends. Holmes fills out entry papers at a rundown psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. Now that the law declares his cocaine use illegal, he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” he hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. Holmes’ scribbled response, never before encountered by his long-experienced doctor, soon churns interlocking mystery and desperate action into the lives of enemies and friends both.

* https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store

After Publishing the First Holmes: a Self Derisive, Wryly Comic Conan Doyle

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

Addressing Gas Leaks

Partially set amidst an early Mormon community in Utah, Conan Doyle’s first Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, won a good readership, according to Daniel Stashower’s fine biography, Teller of Tales, The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle. Publication in the popular in Beeton’s Christmas Annual (1887) practically guaranteed success.

Photo by Jack Sanders, barn from historic Mormon Row (in Wyoming rather than Utah)

When things slowed afterward, the 28 year old translated “Testing Gas Pipes for Leakage” (German to English) for the Gas and Water Gazette. Speaking at the Authors’ Club years later, he claimed the gas article as his breakthrough, the first time anyone sought his work, rather than the other way round. Not that he wasn’t persistent. He admitted to an eight year period, while also trying to build a medical practice, in which he made more than fifty submissions. Each “described an irregular orbit,” and “came back like a paper boomerang.”

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

On the heels of A Study in Scarlet and the Gas Leakage, Holmes’ creator set about a work of historical fiction, more befitting his own tastes than more detective plotting. In late 1888, he finished the well-researched Micah Clarke, about a group English Puritans during an 1685 attempt to overthrow James II, a Roman Catholic who succeeded his Protestant older brother, Charles II. Initially, Micah seemed another flop. Cornhill Magazine asked why he’d waste himself on historical fiction. Publishers Bentley and Company pointed out that Micah Clarke “lacked that one great necessary point for fiction, i.e. interest.”

Finally, Micah Clarke found favor with Longman’s Publishers, garnered excellent reviews, went through three printings in its first year and even made it to the school reading lists. As unbelievable as it seems to us, Conan Doyle always considered Micah Clarke his first success, rather than A Study in Scarlet which, he said, “belonged to a different and humbler plane.”





Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable

Coming Soon from Susanne M. Dutton and Propertius Press*

The Game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall, as WWI ends. Holmes fills out entry papers at a rundown psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. Now that the law declares his cocaine use illegal, he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” he hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. Holmes’ scribbled response, never before encountered by his long-experienced doctor, soon churns interlocking mystery and desperate action into the lives of enemies and friends both.

* https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store

Holmes’ World’s Suspicions of a Dystopian 21st Century (c. 1905)

The words are the actual 1905/06 captions. I’ve copied words into the blog to make them more legible.
July 25, 1905 Punch

“I’ve noticed, Miss, when you ‘as a motor car, you catches ‘a train,’ not ‘the train.'”

from Punch’s Almanack 1906

“The Triumph of Rush,” as Punch Almanack 1906 saw it: a future in which the police can arrest you for failing to go at least 150 miles per hour, bedeviled, according to original cartoon, by the gremlins of “Dust, Smell, Jarred Nerves and Insanity.” (Those high speed trains are a pretty good forecast, aren’t they?)

Q: “Is Mr. Forbes in?” A: “No, Sir.”

Q: “Is he on the telephone?” (Have a phone?)

A: “I don’t know where he is, Sir.”

Punch Almanack 1906

This one speaks for itself. I was aghast to see the constable using a Segway-like pair of motorized wheels, however. Those did not come to market until 2001, ninety-five years after this cartoon.

Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable

by Susanne M.Dutton, soon from Propertius Press*

The game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall as WWI ends. Holmes fills out entry papers at a rundown psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. Now that the law declares his cocaine use illegal, he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” he hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. Holmes’ scribbled response, never before encountered by his long-experienced doctor, soon churns interlocking mystery and desperate action into the lives of enemies and friends both.

* https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store

The Sturdy Beggar Inn? Or Bolt Cottage?

“After a day with Holmes,” Watson writes,”including hours afield and hours, too, amidst the the tumult of his cottage–a return to my whitewashed room at the village inn was welcome. I’d mount the stairway looking forward to my quiet room with the narrow bed of clean linens, a mirror, basin and a simple square window overlooking a pebbled path into a wood.

Photo by Yvonne Lau

Another advantage of this inn was regular sustenance, at least on waking and before bed in the evening. Along with the excellent ale, the inn furnished its tables with fresh bread, cheeses, assorted veg, and and a steaming stew that may have contained squirrel as well as the rabbit advertised.

Photo by Roy Sloan on Pexels.com

Holmes, on the other hand, seemed to thrive on a severe diet of a half-cracker, half-bread substance liberally doused with honey from his own hives alongside a hard cheese. Of course, a supply of his favoured cheap shag was always ready.” *

*from Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable, soon from Susanne Dutton and Propertius Press.

As World War I ends, British law declares Holmes’ cocaine use illegal and, hoping to end his habit, he fills out entry papers at a psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. Confronted by a question asking for his “treatment goals,” he hesitates, suddenly aware that his real goals far exceed the capacity of this or any clinic. The inscrutable words he scribbles, never before encountered by his doctor, churn interlocking mystery and desperate action into the lives of friends and enemies both.

* https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store

Holmes and Inspector Lestrade Walk into a Bar: the Art of Induction

Photo by Jonathan Monk

… London’s Criterion Bar, of course. It’s empty except for a seated chap slumped over the bar, and another who stands on the other side, wiping it. Lestrade is pleased they have the place to themselves. He decides to skip the brandy in favor of whiskey. Holmes wonders where everyone’s gone, whether the fellow on the stool still has a pulse, and if the man with the cloth is getting rid of gory evidence. He is not ready to theorize, but will continue to gather data. (An exaggerated example of Holmes’ induction vs. the usual deduction (in which the fact that it’s a bar heavily influences conclusions.)

Photo by Abdulhamid AlFadhly

Sherlock Holmes

and the Remaining Improbable

The Game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall, as WWI ends. Holmes fills out entry papers at a rundown psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. Now that the law declares his cocaine use illegal, he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” he hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. Holmes’ scribbled response, never before encountered by his long-experienced doctor, soon churns interlocking mystery and desperate action into the lives of enemies and friends both.

Soon! From Susanne M. Dutton and Propertius Press

* https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store

“You Really Have Done Remarkably Badly.”

Holmes to Watson, after the doctor fails to gather clues about Violet Smith’s strange bicycle-riding stalker in “The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist,” A. Conan Doyle

London Illustrated News ad for comfortable bikes, 1893

“I admitted to myself the paltry quality of my own conclusions,” Watson writes. “If Holmes had found himself approaching my door he’d deduce instantly whether I was a home. He would also know when I’d last been to town, what I’d eaten at the (insert

correct name of) public house or dining establishment–and if it had agreed with me.” *

*Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable

SOON from Susanne M. Dutton and Propertius Press

The Game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall, as WWI ends. Holmes fills out entry papers at a rundown psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. Now that the law declares his cocaine use illegal, he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” he hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. Holmes’ scribbled response, never before encountered by his long-experienced doctor, soon churns interlocking mystery and desperate action into the lives of enemies and friends both.

* https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store

Holmes: Cultural Measuring Stick (100 years Ago)

I used a newspaper search engine to find Holmes as referenced in the year 1920, a hundred years ago. There are thousands, though I was limited to English language papers. If I simply search for “Sherlock Holmes” in the same digitized papers (since Sherlock crawled out of Conan Doyle’s head) the number is 1,747.746.

photo by H. Klasser

The Times Greater London: One of the quaint characteristics of our postwar world is certainly a great increase in the “agony” (newspaper personals) column habit, even twenty years ago, a sedate thing, mostly appeals from hospitals. It was very rarely a personal advertisement, or one one of those intriguing cryptograms which Sherlock Holmes would disentangle.’ 4 AUG 1920

photo by Z. Zolkiffli

Bingham, Utah Bulletin, USA: A new ouija board story not far from Bingham, worthy of the attention of Sherlock Holmes. That ouija actually gave a certain man the name and address of a woman, even to the street number and so on, who lives four thousand miles away–beyond the sea–and that wicked board even told the man something to tell her!

photo by R. Kirby

The Manchester Guardian, England: There is a powerful god-in-the-machine in the person of the family doctor, a philosophic Sherlock Holmes of the profession who sees through everyone and their intrigues. 30 Nov 1920

Photo by Mike on Pexels.com

Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Hawaii: But a man does not have to be a Sherlock Holmes to be able to deduce from her general conduct and conversation, whether his coming really does set the golden bells ringing. (a front page article, “The Test of Love.”)

photo by J. Vicente

Montreal Gazette, Canada: Scotland Yard is now accoutered with a mechanism for scientific crime detection that would have made even that incurable scoffer, Sherlock Holmes, open his eyes in astonishment. (excerpted ‘Eye-Opener for Holmes,’ about use of planes in police intelligence, 25 Dec 1920.)

Photo by Lars Mai on Pexels.com

Sydney Morning Herald: The most severe criticism I can remember of Holmes was from a boatman in Cornwall. He said, ‘I don’t know whether Holmes was killed by that fall over that cliff; but I think he was very badly injured–he was never the same man afterwards.’ (Interview with A.C. Doyle, 23 Nov. 1920)

Soon from Propertius Press, by Susanne M. Dutton: …..Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable

The Game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall, as WWI ends. Holmes fills out entry papers at a rundown psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. Now that the law declares his cocaine use illegal, he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” he hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. Holmes’ scribbled response, never before encountered by his long-experienced doctor, soon churns interlocking mystery and desperate action into the lives of enemies and friends both.

* https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store

Holmes’ World: Artists Critique Female Fashion in The Strand Magazine 1891

“Tight waists and high heels are still so common that the courageous protests of the emancipated pass almost unnoticed….The heels do not give an impression of long- leggedness, but only alter and spoil the whole carriage of the body.” Artist John Collier, 1850-1934

Royal Academy artist Louisa Starr Canzini’s sketches (dancing and tennis)

“To be beautiful, it should be the expression of ease and of natural delight in movement. Also, it should have no association with pain.” Royal Academy artist, Louisa Canzini, 1845-1909

Harsh words from artist Wyke Bayliss 1835-1906:

“The truth is that every attempt to modify the human form is an act of savagery, and every form of dress that simulates a modification, wither worn in Peking, or Paris, or London, is a savage dress, and carries with it the additional shame of being a sham.”

(Comment from blogger: “Well, there’s lots that we’ve left behind. Certainly we’ve gotten over any objection to the shame of sham. Whew!”)

Bayliss’ words prompted me to look at his paintings:

Wyke Bayliss 1835-1906

“I am not narrow-minded (about clothes.) The only bad ones are those that are pretentious or vulgar.” Artist George H. Boughton 1833-1905

“Tight lacing, pointed shoes and high heels. Unless the fashion changes, (which, it being very ugly, it probably will not) will leave permanently disastrous results.

“Again, this (shoe) is hardly short of wicked and hardly short of a cloven hoof. I wish the ladies joy of it!” Artist G.F. Watts 1817-1904

The Strand 1891
Punch Magazine 1897

“You don’t even own a bicycle!”

“But I do own a sewing machine!”

* https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store

Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable, by Susanne M. Dutton, coming SOON from Propertius Press

The Game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall, as WWI ends. Holmes fills out entry papers at a rundown psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. Now that the law declares his cocaine use illegal, he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” he hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. Holmes’ scribbled response, never before encountered by his long-experienced doctor, soon churns interlocking mystery and desperate action into the lives of enemies and friends both.

Holmes’ Humo(u)r: Comics, Art, News & Ads

Quirky and just weird late Victorian humor from real magazines and newspapers landing in 221B’s mailbox.

Photo by Alvaro Prieto

In The Strand 1891 the Royal Mail dares to share the creative ways some customers address their postcards. Meanwhile, Holmes meets Moriarty in The Final Problem.

The Ladies’ Home Journal 1898 reveals how American writer Mark Twain and U.S. President Grant are too shy to talk, as Holmes sets about solving The Dancing Men code.

The Journal reports that the two Americans shook hands and fell into a long silence, as Twain tried to think what he could say. Finally, he said, “Mr. President, I feel a bit embarrassed. Do you?” The President could not help smiling, but the writer gave his place in line to others.

Ten years later, when statesman and humorist met again, Grant said, before Twain had a chance to utter a word: “Mr. Clemens, I don’t feel at all embarrassed. Do you?”

The Illustrated London News 1890 claims that Poe’s famous raven poem, “Nevermore” turns well adjusted puppies to sentimental mush and tears, as Holmes questions another dog’s behavior in in Silver Blaze.

Holmes is caught up in a case involving an unhappy marriage, an odd burglary, and possible murder at The Abby Grange as Punch Magazine August 1905 prepares to publish this cartoon at a time when cameras were obviously as omnipresent and preoccupying as cell phones are today.

Punch, August 23, 1905

COMING SOON FROM PROPERTIUS PRESS:

* https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store

Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable

BY SUSANNE M. DUTTON

As World War I ends, British law declares Holmes’ cocaine use illegal and, hoping to end his habit, he fills out entry papers at a psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. Confronted by a question asking for his “treatment goals,” he hesitates, suddenly aware that his real goals far exceed the capacity of this or any clinic. The inscrutable words he scribbles, never before encountered by his doctor, churn interlocking mystery and desperate action into the lives of friends and enemies both.

3 Other (Legal) Ways for Holmes’ Irregulars to Earn a Shilling in the 1890’s

The Crossing Sweeper

Opinions varied on sweeping, even amongst the sweepers. On the plus side? If you’ve got a broom and a crossing, you’re set. Thousands of horses and fashionable hem lengths put you in demand. The streets bring the sweepable filth, without fail. You’re your own boss. Cons? You work for tips. The best crossings, or “pitches,” are worth fighting over, and it happens. If you don’t show up, someone else will take your place; it pays to be a known, trusted, quantity. If you’re in a better part of the city, tips are better, too, and other errands (horse holding, message bearing, parcel carrying) come your way. One fellow interviewed in The London Illustrated News claimed customers’ tips on upcoming horse races did more for his pocket than the sweeping.

The Acrobat

Sketch by Miss Quesne for The Strand Jan-June, 1891

There are no gymnastics schools in London, at least according to The Strand Magazine‘s 1891 article, “The Child Workers of London.” If you want training, you hope to join one of the many troupes, beginning at age eight. The trainer, known as “the father,” arranges to take in recruits for a certain number of years. He is responsible for teaching, but also feeding and clothing them. (Remind anyone of Dickens’ Fagin?) Good troupes travel, performing at festivals and in theaters, as well as on the street. The best cross the Channel to France and Germany.

Sketch artist, Miss Quesne, The Strand compilation, Jan.-June 1891

A troupe made £70 – £80 a day, a fully trained acrobat, £20 – £25 a week. Interviewed by The Strand, troupe father Mr. Bale said that healthy diet and strength training are virtues of the training. Temperance is another merit, he adds. “Directly an acrobat takes to drinking, he is done for.”

The Lodging House Servant

London Illustrated News 1895

“Nothing can be harder or drearier,” The Strand says, referring to the lives of young servants, especially at lodging houses. “They are on their feet, at everyone’s beck and call, never expected to tire.” Their work is demanding, their meals poor, their sleeping arrangements, “disgraceful.” Mrs. Hudson’s page, Billy, belonged to this set, though with and only three adults to serve (as far as we know) he may have had it easier.

13 year old child care “nurse” sketched by Miss Le Quesne for The Strand, Jan-June 1891 article, “The Child Workers of London.”

Wages vary, hovering around £10 – £12 a year. Time off varied as well, Sunday afternoons for some, but one Sunday a month for others. According to “Child Workers of London,” young servants might change jobs often. One girl interviewed, aged 15, said she had been to six places. The interviewer asked, “Are you so fond of change?”

“Tain’t that so much,” returned the young lady; “but I can’t put up with cheek, and some of my missuses do go on awful. I says, ‘Ave yer jaw, and ‘ave done with it!'”

Photo by Faisal Rahman on Pexels.com

Coming Soon from Propertius Press:

Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable

by Susanne M. Dutton

https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store

Holmes Enters Rehab

-an excerpt from his initial interview in “Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable*

“M. Holmes recounts that most childish inconveniences, including toothache, temper, rowdiness, diarrhoea, constipation–and especially inability to sleep when nursery maid’s follower (that’s boyfriend) was available–were treated with an array of the most popular children’s remedies, usually tinctured with alcohol, opium, cocaine, or morphine. With little thought, M. Holmes continued to self-medicate, not daily, but frequently, ‘as necessary,’ throughout his youth, especially aged thirteen to sixteen. He recalls his ever-ready Toothache Drops (cocaine) as a favourite.”

photo by Wesley Oliviera
As WWI ends, cocaine becomes illegal in England and the aged, still addicted and depressed Sherlock Holmes submits entry papers at a rundown psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. He names a treatment goal never before encountered by his admitting physician, churning interlocking mystery and desperate action into the lives of friends and enemies both.
*Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable by Susanne M. Dutton, coming soon from Propertius Press

An 1878 example: Getting ready for Christmas with St. Nicholas Magazine stories for children. Included are “The Three Wise Men,” “For Very Little Folks,” and Jack in the Pulpit,” with Burnett’s cocaine on the side.

Advetisements for St. Nicolas Children’s Magazine, Nov. 1878

      

This stuff is fun, quirky, unsettling, thought-provoking and sometimes hard to get our modern heads around. If you find it as interesting as I do, please follow my blog by signing up in the right hand corner below. Thank you!

Susanne M. Dutton


221B Baker Street: Holmes’ Phantom Address

… and the museum vs. the bank.

In London in the Nineteenth Century, author Jerry White refers to John Fisher Murray’s 1844 designations for “old London neighborhoods.* Baker Street is categorized as neither exclusive, ultra-fashionable nor fashionable, but “genteel.” Madame Tussaud’s Wax Works was housed there, in addition to shops, pubs, restaurants and “mansion blocks,” i.e. apartment buildings.

However, when Holmes and Watson took rooms at 221B Baker Street in 1881, the numbered addresses went no higher than 84.

As soon as this fact came to light, questions were raised. Was Watson protecting Holmes from risk by disguising the address? Did they actually live in York Place? According to David Sinclair’s Sherlock Holmes’s London, York Place was a residential end of what has more recently become a part of Baker Street. Another theory was that the doctor and detective lived in the Regent’s Park end of present day Baker Street, known as Upper Baker Street. (Note! A reader has informed me that in preliminary notes to Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, he did refer to a 221B Upper Baker Street.) The number system was still unsatisfactory, according to Sinclair, as as the highest was 54.

Life caught up with art a few years after the publication of the last Holmes story in 1930. Baker Street was extended across Marylebone Road and renumbered. An entire city block took on the address 219 to 229, and became the headquarters of Abbey Road Building Society and then, in July 1989, Abbey National, a bank.

Google Maps

That settled nothing, especially when heaps of mail seeking Holmes’ aid began to arrive and the building society-morphing-to-a-bank proudly designated itself as employer of the posthumous secretary to Sherlock Holmes for seventy years.

Then, in 1990, the bank had competition. The Sherlock Holmes Museum set up just down the street at a much more appropriate-looking address, not 221B, but 239 Baker Street.

239 Baker Street Google Maps

To settle the matter the museum actually tried to get its address changed from 239 to 221, a permission refused in 1994. It was able to register as a business legally called 221B Limited, however, and posted that name over the entrance.

Google Maps: 219 to 229 Baker Street today

Abbey National Bank finally retired from the conflict in 2002 when it moved away from Baker Street entirely. By way of a graceful farewell, the bank installed the fine statue of Sherlock Holmes that surveys nearby Baker Street Tube Station.

Gift to Baker Street from Abbey National Bank

*Old London was a very different city, as the population count, as well as the square miles, skyrocketed in the 19th Century. In 1801, the first official census names just over 1 million. By 1900 it is 6.2 Million. Square miles in 1851 totaled 122; in the Holmes’ era, c.1896, that number is 693.

Thank you for reading! Please follow my blog, inside221B.com. It’s generally twice a week and will simply show up in your mail.

Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable, by Susanne Dutton, coming soon from Propertius Press.

https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store

How Holmes Paid Irregulars

~ a SHILLING a day and a bonus Guinea for extra “high value” information

Photo by Faisal Rahman on Pexels.com

“They go everywhere and they hear everything,” Holmes says of the Irregulars in A Study in Scarlet, 1887. “They are sharp as needles, too; all they want is organization.”

The Irregulars play a crucial role in three cases, aided greatly by the fact that homeless children (estimated 30,000) were so many and so disregarded on London streets. Given that 12 pence made a shilling, what could you get with just one shilling?

~ four meals of meat, broth and beer or eight simpler meals from a street cart or at an “ordinary,” a working class hall that served simple foods. (No Irregular would have a kitchen.)

A meat pie

~ a shared bed in cheap lodging house for six nights

~ an inexpensive, unfurnished room for one week (one shilling, 4 pence)

~ one copy of the Illustrated London News. An Irregular probably had little or no schooling, but he would have enjoyed the Wild West story of Eagle Joe and the sketches.

London Illustrated News Summer Number 1891 (btw, I paid £20.13 for my own copy, that’s in the latest new money system, of course.

~ five loaves of bread

~ 1/2 pound tea

~ one wedding ring, with “as good an appearance;” as 22ct. gold and, after all, “answers same purpose.”

~ week’s worth of wood or coal, if one had a place to burn it


What could you do with a guinea, just over a pound?

1890 pound coin

~ one overcoat of superior quality

~ one pair boots, one pair socks and three flannel shirts

~ one bed, not the finest well-made, but not the least

Advertisement, Pall Mall Gazette December 1893

~ one pin of diamond and gold, almost

Advertisement London Illustrated News, March 1891

~ one each of 4 of Conan Doyle’s works, hard back, as advertised between the curtains and “How to Open a Cigar Store.” Note that Holmes stories are not featured first, nor are they the most expensive.

The Strand Magazine, 1891 January to June compilation

Another way to assess that guinea is to see what other people were paid

~ £11/year plus board and lodging would be a wage for a boy who worked as an indoor servant. (Billy, Mrs. Hudson’s page)

~ 18 shillings up to £1 would be a “justing getting by” week’s income for a working family. £1 in 1895 equals £132.35* today, though the numbers are misleading because costs for raw materials, production, labor and transportation have changed. “New fangled” products were more expensive, as they are now. What about the prospect of an Irregular with a bicycle?

1890 Bicycle

~ one Van Cleve bicycle, $65 at the Wright Brother’s factory in North Carolina. (Adjusted for inflation, $1,870 today.)

https://www.dougbarnesauthor.com/2017/03/Wright-Brothers-Bicycle-Description-Options-Costs-1890s.html

Given that the pound went further than the dollar, an Irregular might achieve a bicycle with a great number of high values clues, or several more detectives.

Thank you for reading. Please follow my blog, too.

Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable Susanne M. Dutton, soon from Propertius Press

https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store

Holmes laughed. “Fifty six years ago, the Queen made a deduction regarding her husband’s hair, Watson.”

Queen Victoria’s husband, Albert Francis Wettin (1819-1861)

He slid the latest Pall Mall Gazette across the breakfast table. “Read it yourself, old man. Just there, below the photograph of the bracelet.”

I found the article.

“After the Prince Consort’s death, Her Majesty had some of his hair made into a bracelet.* Now the Queen stipulated that there were to be no joinings, but this was impossible, the Prince’s hair being too short. However the Queen’s instructions were carried out and the bracelet delivered.

Chancing to be toying with it one day, Her Majesty drew out a hair three times the length of the Prince’s hair; then there was trouble. The bracelet was inspected, and it was found that that while much of it was Prince Albert’s hair, the greater part of it was not.” (The bracelet pictured is such a bracelet, but not that bracelet.)

“Hmm,” I mused. “Let me make another deduction. When one goes about as a ‘Majesty,’ people are going to lie to you to keep you happy.”

Photo by Irina Anastasiu on Pexels.com

The Pall Mall Gazette (February 1897) has more to tell about “hair devices,” as momentos of deceased loved ones. Below is an example from a Swiss gentleman, Antonio Forrer, who developed what we would call a fiber art in the 1840’s, weaving hair and wool.

It seems an English woman spied some of his work while traveling, brought him to London and helped him to set up a work shop in Regent Street, where he developed a successful trade. Before long he offered work to dozens of Swiss women who helped him to meet the demand. When the craze (as the Gazette calls it) was at its height, provision would be specified in wills for mourning brooches, rings, bracelets and earrings, as well as “fiber art” creations for the parlour. In London alone, there were 100 hair-working studios. Below are other examples of Victorian momento mori, a monogramed a bracelet, choker, earrings and wall hanging featuring the deceased woman herself.

This stuff is fun, quirky, thought-provoking and sometimes hard to get our modern heads around. If you find it as interesting as I do, follow my blog. Thank you.

Susanne Dutton

https://propertiuspress.wixsite.com/bookstore/online-store … Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable by Susanne M. Dutton, soon from Propertius Press

A Woman’s Handwriting? Is there such a thing? Holmes and Lestrade Argue.

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Holmes smiled thinly at Lestrade, and set aside the lavender-scented letter with it’s swooping, swirling message.

He said, “Come now, Inspector. Think. I’ll grant you it reads like blackmail, but you have no reason to put it down to a woman. You know as well as I do. One can do wonders with other people’s expectations.”

Pall Mall Gazette Advertisement, December 1893

He flipped open the latest Gazette and pointed to an advertisement. “Goodness knows what this Prof. Muller would do if I applied for a specialist in the lady-civil-servant hand.”

Answer: No such thing!

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An expert agrees:

Wrong question,” says Barnard Collier on Quora. “The right one may be: Why can’t we distinguish between male and female handwriting?

Our company www.graphologyconsulting.com has for almost a quarter century collected, analyzed, and evaluated the handwriting of more than 130,000 medical doctors and nurses worldwide, plus an equal number of people from various professions and walks of life, and among many financial classes, and if there was or is, at present, a way to pin

point the difference on a gender-based scale, we haven’t found it. Nor has any other expert biometric graphologist, and pattern recognition tests may enjoy a 6 to 4 chance of deducing gender from pixel-levelscans and associated algorithms.

Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable* by Susanne Dutton

The game is not afoot. The Better-Every-Day world of 1895 is gone, even hard to recall as WWI ends. From his rural cottage, Sherlock Holmes no longer provokes Scotland Yard’s envy or his landlady’s impatience, but neither is he content with the study of bees. August 1920 finds Holmes filling out entry papers at a nearly defunct psychiatric clinic on the Normandy coast. England’s new Dangerous Drugs Act declares his cocaine use illegal and he aims to quit entirely. Confronted by a question as to his “treatment goal,” Holmes hesitates, aware that his real goal far exceeds the capacity of any clinic. His scribbled response, “no more solutions, but one true resolution,” seems more a vow than a goal to his psychiatrist, Pierre Joubert. The doctor is right. Like a tiny explosion unaccountably shifting a far-reaching landscape, the simple words churn desperate action and interlocking mystery into the lives of Holmes’ friends and enemies both.

Preorder Link: * https://www.propertiuspress.com/our-bookstore/Sherlock-Holmes-and-the-Remaining-Improbable-by-Susanne-Dutton-p310417036

You’re a Consulting Detective, Mr. Holmes? Other Peculiar Occupations c. 1897

The Black Eye Artist

“I suppose I’m the only one,” says Holmes of his occupation, but his was not the only curious occupation at the time. Here are three other instances as identified by Balliol Bruce in a Feb., 1897 Pall Mall Gazette article on the topic.

The photo above shows Mr. W. Clarkson, a black eye artist of seventeen years experience. Tools include greasepaint of two hues, lily powder, and carmine. The unaffected eye is painted to match. The process takes about half an hour and lasts for a week. Mr. Clarkson gave a few examples of the assortment of antics that bring patrons to his door.

  • A solicitor wanted a black eye painted out before entering court.
  • Two women, who ought to have known better, fought as they entered a Buckingham Palace drawing room. Big gratuity to the artist for this one.
  • One evening a man had a black eye painted out; came back the next night with another.
  • Angry wife threw a book at her husband, but missed him. He rushed to Clarkson to have a black eye painted in–so as to fill his wife with remorse.
  • Under Other, there are the excuses. Slipping getting into or out of bed; cab pulling up suddenly and throwing forward the occupant; baby boy whose clubbing fist flashed at his mother’s face; popular preacher, so carried away with his own eloquence that he jabbed himself in the eye.

The Height Increaser

M. Pinet of Berner Street, W. is a professional height increaser, a feat he undertakes with two methods. (Both of these continue to this day, though no one seems to be claiming the occupation, per se, on 2020 taxes.) Method one involves plush covered pads, pictured, which can be moved to from shoe pair to pair. Method two is accomplished with special boots, which M. Pinet explains can raise you as far as SIX INCHES.

Who are the customers?

  • Clerks out of employment.
  • Waitresses.
  • Policemen and others in uniform, such as Army officers.
  • Footmen (to whom stature is everything, says the Gazette.)
  • Barristers, Clerics (churchmen), Members of Parliament.
  • AND MANY OTHERS, but especially those who want to catch a particular other’s eye. M. Pinet says women use the elevators because they raise the instep and make the feet appear smaller. (Small feet, as a “thing,” no longer seem to be the rage, but considerable trouble is still taken for height.)
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The professional height increaser tells a story about a man who left his elevator pads in his boots when he put them outside his hotel room door to be polished. Of course they came back minus the pads and “the gentleman was confined to his room,” because he didn’t want to make inquiries about them. When he did leave, he was somehow “lower” in the eyes of his friends. M. Pinet says the moral is “KEEP DUPLICATE PAIRS!”

Funeral Horseman

The average undertaker keeps “neither horses nor coaches, but hires these from people like Mr. Seaward, who keeps a hundred funeral horses,” according to the Gazette. These would account for just one hundred of the nine hundred funeral horses in London in the late 1890’s. These stately, expensive, and often feisty animals are imported from Friesland and Zeeland, Netherlands provinces. Seaward claims that, once, at a very small funeral, “the coachman lent a hand with the coffin; but in his absence, the horses ran amuck among the tombstones, which went down like ninepins in all directions.”

In the photo, one of Seaward’s men paints a horse’s white fetlock with a black mixture in preparation for a funeral procession. A white star on the forehead is simply covered with the animal’s own foretop. To the right in the photo hangs a fake horse tail, necessary when Seaward uses one of his no-tailed Dutch Black horses to create a kind of composite horse. The tail is strapped on for funerals, but at night it can be discarded so the horse can take people to and from the theaters.

Holmes, the world’s only consulting detective, stands with pipe

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Holmes, One in 4.7 Million

https://youtu.be/MJeNG1R7FzM

1780 – London Population 750,000

1801 – London Population 1.1 M

1881 – London Population 4.7 Million when Holmes and Watson take 221b

1896 – London Population 6.7 Million during The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans, wherein secret submarine blueprints are found in a murdered engineer’s pocket.

1920 – London Population is 7.4 Million when Holmes is 66 and The Dangerous Drugs Act is enacted… Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable takes place.

from The Strand Magazine, January 1891

In 1860, when the six year old Holmes was still home in Yorkshire (about 322 km and or 200 miles away) London was already one quarter larger than the world’s second largest city, Beijing; two thirds larger than the Paris; five times as big as NYC. By 1881, Holmes had moved to London. Rents were high. The population was young, a little more female than male. He was on the lookout for a fellow to share the rent.

The Criminal Investigation Department had recently been created, naming 250 detectives, including Lestrade, in a police department that numbered 10,000.

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Watson, Harlene User?

Restores hair to Original Color! Not a Dye!

Prevents Hair Turning Grey or “Falling Off!”

Produces Luxuriant Whiskers and Mustaches!

The London Ilustrated News, December 1895

“I dressed, shaved, fussed to no avail with my remaining hair, and made my final preparations for the two-hour journey to Eastbourne…. I had reduced my office hours in the past two years and watched as my patients cooperated to an unflattering extent, transferring their loyalties to my young partner and nephew, Ronald Ellison.” Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable, coming soon from Propertius Press.

So How Old is Old?

When Watson received Holmes’ summons to Eastbourne, he was 68 and the year was 1920, just a hundred years ago. Stanford University’s research, based on likelihood of death, suggests that for men the transition beyond middle age in 1920 was 44. After 44 you qualified as “old,” at least in terms of likelihood of death. In 2020, that age is 60.

But that’s not all. Stanford included another transition. The transition for men from “old” to really “elderly” in 1920 was 55 in 1920. In 2020, it is 76. from John Stoven: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/what-age-is-considered-old-nowadays/

“Diggings” in Baker Street, Watson smokes, too–and the landlady’s mourning jewelry brings back a macabre memory

“By Jove! If he really wants someone to share the rooms and expense, I am the very man for him.” J. Watson, M.D.

In 1881, Holmes and Watson move in to 221b. Holmes is 27; Watson 29 years old.

“Holmes was delighted. ‘I have my eye on a suite in Baker Street,‘ he said. … You don’t mind the smell of strong tobacco, I hope?’

‘I always smoke ‘ship’s’ myself,”Watson answered.

‘That’s good enough. I generally have chemicals about, and occasionally, do experiments. Would that annoy you? … Let me see, what are my other shortcomings? I get in the dumps at times, and don’t open my mouth for days.’

That very evening Watson moved his things from the hotel in the Strand where he had been living a comfortless and meaningless existence.” Excerpted from: Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street, by William S. Baring Gould, WING BOOKS.

When they met Mrs. Hudson, the landlady, Holmes saw immediately a mourning pin at her collar, not more than half an inch long, set with a zigzag design of what was surely human hair.

Had she lost a child? Was she a widow? He did not mention it, initially, though he was personally familiar with the tradition of bereavement jewelry. His mother, Violet Sherrinford Holmes, b. 1824, treasured a ring crafted in the more macabre style of the Georgian era, a tiny skull and cross bones set in a circle of pearls.

Slamming Holmes

1399835759_9cd88121b1_s   I love the research. That’s why writing historical fiction is fun, but also more challenging. Research takes me down some grizzly paths. Last night I was enjoying the scrumptious butternut squash soup at a little cafe, using my lone dinnertime to look up both big and little story details on Google. I was immersed when an acquaintance called from across the room. I went over to say hello. When I returned I found I’d left Apple open to a page describing the technical aspects of “slamming” cocaine into a neck vein, including graphics. Do you aim up or down? What size needle? What difference does it make? As I reseated myself, I was greeted with a variety of looks, most on the quizzical side, fortunately. No one seemed concerned. I don’t present as addict material. Not that kind, anyway. In case you’re wondering, never ever aim down, towards the heart. That will be the last thing you aim anywhere. Soup for Dinner