Sunday, May 20, 2018

Arrange the Extracts in Their Order of Time

In a hobby like Sherlockiana, you can say you've been interested in it for more than a decade, and still be considered relatively new.  Because there's just so much out there! 

I swear, for every book I read, I add two more to my To Be Read list.  There are so many avenues to do deep dives into that can take months, if not years, before you could feel well-versed enough to offer an opinion on some topics. 

This probably isn't true for everyone, but I have an compulsion to know as much as I can about a topic that I am currently interested in.  And the most recent episode of I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere made me come face-to-face with the mountain of Sherlockian research that I find interesting, but daunts me the most:


Episode 144 of IHOSE was a great interview with Vincent Wright, a deeply invested chronologist.  I got to meet Vincent all-to-briefly in Dayton earlier this year, and after listening to his interview this week just reinforced my feeling of "Hey, I need to get to know this guy better!" that I had after the Dayton Symposium. 

(Side note, Vincent graciously offered to be a speaker at Holmes in the Heartland, but we already had a full slate of speakers.  Talk about an embarrassment of riches!  Next year maybe....?)

Thinking about chronology is inescapable.  After reading the Canon over and over again for more than a decade, I've developed a few half-baked ideas of the chronological outline of theses stories, and as The Criminal Mastermind of Baker Street followed Holmes and Watson from St. Bart's to Von Bork, I had to hitch my wagon to a given chronology as the outline for my book. 

At last month's Parallel Case of St. Louis meeting, we debated the date that William Baring-Gould had assigned to The Cardboard Box.  There are plenty of chronologies out there, and my guess is that most of us are familiar with at least a few of them.  Some of them are better than others, but none of them are slam dunks.  So it's easy for folks like me to sit on the sidelines and pick at their weak spots. 

But, as Scott, Burt and Vincent talked about the ins and outs of chronology, It became very clear to me just how much I didn't know.  And to be a good chronologist, you've got to know A LOT.

Chronology has always been interesting to me, but once I go over that cliff, I know I'm never coming back. 

Do you trust Watson's dating implicitly?  If so, how do you account for Watson dating Wisteria Lodge at 1892?  If that date is suspect, what else can be called into question?

Do you take into account the publication history of Watson's stories as Holmes references them?  Or was Holmes privy to Watson's writings before they were published in The Strand?

What's more important in dating the stories, the weather reports from London or train schedules? 

Can we trust that Holmes was EXACTLY sixty years old during His Last Bow?

How many times was Watson married?

Do we think that there was only one page boy at Baker Street, or was it a position filled by numerous people whom might not all have been named Billy?

See, this is a VERY slippery slope.  And these are just the questions I came up with as I sat down to write this post.  Who knows how far down the rabbit hole I could go if I allowed myself to.  As mentioned above, I'm a compulsive.  That's why I purposely keep chronology at arm's length.  Because I don't know if I'm ready to delve into that much madness.



  1. Hey, Rob!

    Great post. Thanks for the mentions.
    I have a saying when it comes to Sherlockian chronology: The only absolute is that all of the stories had to have happened before they were published.

    I know that doesn't help, but it gives you an idea of just how tough this part of the hobby can be.
    Should you wish to discuss chronology further, consider me at your disposal.

    Vincent (Historical Sherlock)

  2. Chronology is an absolute beast!


  3. Chronology is an absolute beast with thorny tentacles!

    Morton George