Have you ever tried to trace your family tree? If so, you’ve probably been surprised to realize how very quickly generations of your family reach “History Book Land.” For example, if I pull up my father’s branches and count five generations back, I’m in pre-Civil War territory. This was not a very long-lived generation for some reason; however, one individual lived from 1858 until 1942. When he was born–in our area, at least–there was no indoor plumbing. No cars. No refrigeration. No electric lights–and no gas lights, either. By the time he died, we had all of those things and life had mechanized to a once unimaginable degree. Clothing, music, and mores had undergone incredible changes We had fought one world war and were in the midst of another. At least one of his children would live to see the birth of the atomic age, and watch a man walk on the moon.
Arthur Conan Doyle lived in this same age of change, and because of the serial nature of his detective stories, so did Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. In “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle,” Mr. Henry Baker hasn’t even got gas laid on in his home–he relies on spermaceti candles. But fast forward to “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton” and Sherlockians are dating the story by the sound the electric light makes as Milverton switches it on. When we meet Holmes and Watson, they’re hailing horse-drawn hansoms. When we leave them, Watson is driving a Ford.
This leads me to today’s trivia question…. Old and new mingle at Baskerville Hall, as well. Surrounded by the moor with its neolithic huts, and with its own mullioned windows, oak rafters and massive fireplace, the Hall is filled with history, but Sir Henry plans to modernize it. “I’ll have a row of electric lamps up here inside of six months, and you won’t know it again, with a thousand candle-power Swan and Edison right here in front of the hall door.”
Well, that would certainly cut through the Devonshire darkness on a winter’s night. And we all know who Edison is, but…
Who is “Swan?”
Let me know via the blog comments section, FaceBook PM or Twitter DM! Correct answers go into the hat for the chance to win one of two prizes.
First choice is the book I loved best in 2013–and my favorite pastiche ever–so far. Kim Newman’s Moriarty is fast-moving, clever, funny–and suddenly gut-wrenching. Forget pastiche–it’s one of my all-time favorite books, period.
The second prize option is a Sherlockology t-shirt, modeled here by my daughter. Sizes run small (my daughter is very petite and wearing an S), so please feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
Well–there you go! Send me your answers, the prize you’d like to try for, and we’ll see you back here tomorrow for Day 7!
Day 5 Winner!
Well, I had several answers from people who are just playing the game, and one who is eligible to win. Congratulations, therefore, to James O’Leary, who pointed out the wicked physicians, Dr. William Palmer and Dr. Edward Pritchard, both executed for multiple murders by poison. Holmes mentions them as examples of doctors who have gone wrong as he and Watson travel to Stoke Moran to stop an even cleverer one in “The Adventure of the Speckled Band.” Kudos are due to Lexi Ulrich, who chose the true life murder of James Carey at the hands of Patrick O’Donnell, which Conan Doyle echoes in that of John Douglas in The Valley of Fear. In her answer (also deserving of kudos), Claire Daines mentioned Alphonse Bertillon, the expert in anthropometry whose testimony as a handwriting expert (which he was not) resulted in the unjust conviction of Alfred Dreyfus for treason. There are at least two pastiches in which Holmes is brought into that case; perhaps one day I will have the chance to review them here!