The Housekeeper

In the Sherlock Holmes stories, one character remains in the background throughout, the long-suffering Mrs. Hudson.  She is fond of Holmes, and it was she who called Watson in to heal Holmes in ‘The Dying Detective.’

In ‘A Scandal in Bohemia,’ Sherlock Holmes states, “When Mrs. Turner has brought in the tray I will make it clear to you.”  In every other story the housekeeper, when named, is Mrs. Hudson.  This is, no doubt, an error on the part of Watson.  Or is it?

In ‘The Boscombe Valley Mystery,’ we find John Turner who is a widower and the father Alice Turner.  Holmes appears to go far to protect the older Turner.  Could there be a connection between the Turners?

In ‘His Last Bow,’ Holmes and Watson have a trusted ally as the housekeeper for Von Bork named Martha.  Could this be the same Mrs. Hudson from so many of the earlier stories?  I am only throwing out ideas, so you can draw your own conclusions.

NEXT WEEK: Woolly Wordings 4

The Un-ambitious Older Brother and other Relations

The reader is given few glimpses of Mycroft Holmes in his younger brother’s stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  In ‘The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter’ Sherlock says Mycroft “has an extraordinary faculty for figures, and audits the books in some of the Government departments,” but by the time of ‘The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans’ Sherlock trusts Watson enough to state “occasionally he is the British Government.”  It was Mycroft who drove Watson’s cab in ‘The Final Problem.’  Mycroft was the only person whom Sherlock voluntarily told that he was alive during his three year absence, so the trust must have been great between the siblings.

Mycroft Holmes remains an enigma though some inferences may be drawn from the sparse data we are given.  The word croft can be generally defined as a small area, and Mycroft certainly stayed “in his own circle.”  Mycroft was co-founder of the Diogenes club that is named after perhaps the best known cynic Greek philosopher, Diogenes of Sinope, which may provide some insight into the character of the man.

Other evidence that Sherlock Holmes has family comes from the fact that Vernet the French artist was the brother of his grandmother.  In ‘The Adventure of the Norwood Builder,’ Watson tells us that someone named Verner (perhaps a corruption of Vernet) had purchased his medical practice allowing him to return to live at 221B Baker Street.  Watson later learned that it was Holmes who had supplied the purchase price to his distant relative.  This wee keek into the lineage of Sherlock Holmes has been added to by many others, but these are the basic facts according to Conan Doyle.

NEXT WEEK: Woolly Wordings 3

The Napoleon of Crime

Sherlock Holmes called Professor James Moriarty “the Napoleon of crime” in ‘The Final Problem’ and a “Napoleon-gone-wrong” in ‘The Valley of Fear.’  Here are some interesting facts:

  • Professor Moriarty wrote a treatise on the Binomial Theorem and the book ‘The Dynamics of an Asteroid,’ and he won accolades for both.
  • Professor Moriarty has a brother Colonel Moriarty (also named James) and a younger brother who is a station-master in the West of England.  Exactly how many brothers are there?
  • His chief of the staff is one Colonel Sebastian Moran who Holmes caught upon returning to London in 1894 after his great hiatus.
  • He was created to become the foe who would eventually destroy Holmes and allow Conan Doyle to spend more time on other pursuits, but the reading public would have none of that.
  • The very real Adam Worth was called “the Napoleon of the criminal world” by the very real Scotland Yard detective Robert Anderson (later Sir Robert Anderson), and Worth may have been the model for Moriarty.

NEXT WEEK: More Woolly Wording