Time Benders 2: The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge

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?

Time Benders: The Man with the Twisted Lip

Most anyone who has spent some time in the study of the Sherlock Holmes stories knows of at least some of the problems associated with trying to put the cases in chronological order or even pinpoint the date of a single case. One such notable dilemma of the latter kind occurs in ‘The Man with the Twisted Lip.’

Early in the story Watson writes the following: “One night – it was in June, ’89.”

It appears to me that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had already heard some of the criticism of his accuracy as to certain trifling details in the stories, such as dates, for he seems to be tweaking his audience with this exchange in the opium den between Watson and his friend Isa Whitney:

___”My God! It’s Watson,” said he. He was in a pitiable state of reaction, with every nerve in a twitter. “I say, Watson, what o’clock is it?”

___”Nearly eleven.”

___”Of what day?”

___”Of Friday, June 19.”

___”Good heavens! I thought it was Wednesday. It is Wednesday. What d’you want to frighten a chap for?” He sank his face on to his arms, and began to sob in a high treble key.

___”I tell you that it is Friday, man. Your wife has been waiting this two days for you. You should be ashamed of yourself!”

___”So I am. But you’ve got mixed, Watson, for I have only been here a few hours, three pipes, four pipes – I forget how many. . . .”

As it turns out, 19 June 1889 actually is a Wednesday! Later, when Watson meets Holmes in that same opium den, Holmes presumes that Watson must think Holmes has been smoking opium, but, perhaps, it is Watson who has been much affected by the den’s atmosphere on this night!