Here is yet another glaring example of Watson’s carelessness with the calendar. I suppose Watson can be forgiven for his neglect because accuracy of details was not his main purpose in these tales, but it sure would be nice if he gave it a little effort now and again.
Watson begins ‘The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge,’ published in August of 1908, with this sentence: “I find it recorded in my notebook that it was a bleak and windy day towards the end of March in the year 1892.” A fine beginning, unless you are Dr. John Watson. If you remember, Watson thought Holmes was buried in Reichenbach Falls from May 4, 1891 until soon after March 30, 1894 per ‘The Final Problem’ and ‘The Adventure of the Empty House,’ respectively. Perhaps the simple explanation is the correct one. Perhaps Watson meant to write ‘towards the end of March in the year 1891 or 1895.’ When was the simple explication good enough to describe Watson’s writing? Perhaps Watson had something else recorded in his notebook on that date. The only event of note, other than his writing, that we know about in Watson’s life during that nearly three year hiatus is the death of Mary Morstan Watson. Could it be that Watson had been reminiscing a bit too much when he was writing this story?
Some of the more famous mistakes relating to names have already merited mention on this blog. Such as Watson’s wife calling him James or the multiple brothers named James Moriarty, but a few other lesser-known instances come to mind from the stories. Also revealed earlier on this blog site is the fact that while the British and American editions of the stories were published at approximately the same time, the text was not always identical.
The Honourable Ronald Adair was a well-known name after his untimely death round the time of Holmes’ return to London as recounted by Watson in “The Adventure of the Empty House.” There appears to be some confusion among the editors in the third paragraph of the story as to the intention of Conan Doyle. ‘The Strand Magazine’ begins that paragraph with “The Honourable Robert Adair was the second son of the Earl of Maynooth, at that time Governor of one of the Australian colonies. Adair’s mother had returned from Australia to undergo an operation for cataract, and she, her son Ronald, and her daughter Hilda were living together at 427 Park Lane.” The Honourable Robert Adair is apparently the father of the Honourable Ronald Adair making the Earl of Maynooth the father of Robert Adair. The editors of the American Collier’s magazine used Ronald instead of Robert for that instance even though it alters the meaning by letting the unnamed Earl of Maynooth become the father of Ronald and leaving Robert out altogether.
Some other examples in the stories with name variations include the following. In chapter 10 of ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles,’ the editors of “The Strand Magazine” corrupted the name of the busybody Frankland by referring to “Franklin’s skull.” In chapter 11 of ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles,’ the American edition of the book contains the paragraph “Mrs. Lyon flushed with anger again.” even though every other instance is Lyons. The editors of “The Strand Magazine” appear to have forgotten in ‘The Adventure of the Six Napoleons’ that Dr. Barnicot was a doctor for they have Lestrade refer to him as Mr. Barnicot.