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.
NEXT WEEK: The rooms at 221b Baker Street, London