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 pinpoint 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-level scans and associated algorithms.

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Tragedy Averted

“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, Biographer.

Illustrated London News, Saturday, November 23, 1867

Perhaps if 13 year old Sherlock had not survived, the Holmes family at Mycroft, their farming estate 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.

Meanwhile, at a (somewhat rundown) clinic, the detective meets with his shrink…

December 1893 London Illustrated News Advertisement

From Sherlock Holmes’ Initial Session, Le Dieppe Clinic, Normandy 25/August/1920 “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. Even then, he perceived these products as medicines that one used to ‘get through’ what one must. He is unsure when ‘getting through’ began to apply to daily life.”       P. Joubert, Medical Director

—“Sherlock Holmes and the Remaining Improbable”  by Susanne Dutton, coming soon from Propertius Press