Writing about 221B got me thinking about bookshelves–those precious resources of which we cannot have enough. We know from “A Scandal in Bohemia” that Holmes and Watson had some in the flat–Holmes kept his indexes on them, among other things. There is also a “line of books of reference beside the mantelpiece,” and they are likely resting on something.* There are books around the sofa, when the detective is in one of his moods, and occasionally a pile of commonplace books on the floor. Watson appears to stack some of his volumes as well.
It doesn’t take a genius, though, to assume that a detective with scientific leanings and a university-trained physician are both readers. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson have wide-ranging interests, reflected in their reading matter of choice. Here, then, is today’s Canon challenge:
Give an example of Holmes’ and Watson’s favorite books and/or periodicals (one for each), as well as the story in which it can be found.
This is, I realize, quite a lot of work, and quite a lot of work deserves quite a lot of prize. As this is a question about books, then a book seems the best choice. The winner of this drawing, therefore, will receive a book which may well have found its way onto the shelves or into the piles of one denizen of 221B. I think we can guess which one.
This is a copy of Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel of medieval France, The White Company, first published in London in 1891. Conan Doyle was quite proud of it, and wrote to his sister, Lottie, that “I am as fond of Hordle John, and Samkin Aylward and Sir Nigel Loring, as though I knew them in the flesh….”**
This is not a first edition, but an imprint of Chicago’s Donohue, Henneberry & Co. It is in good to fair condition, with a name pencilled faintly on the fly-leaf, and a price written in ink inside the back cover. The binding is still tight, but you can see that the hinges are a little strained. The cover is quite ornate:
In short, it may not bring the crowds on “Antiques Roadshow,” but it is a nice little keepsake for your Doylean library. If you’d like to see it on your shelf, send you answer in via FB PM, Twitter DM, or blog comment–and remember, this year, you can win twice!
(Full rules provided here: https://wellreadsherlockian.com/2014/12/20/its-the-most-wonderful-time-of-the-year/)
Day 2 Winners!
There was a huge response to the Day 2 question. Either everyone was home and on the computer, or people are just really excited about starting the new year off with a new calendar!
With one exception, everyone sent in the answer I had in mind: Watson’s declaration that “The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge” began in March of 1892. That’s wrong. Obviously. At that time, Sherlock Holmes had, as far as his friend knew, been dead for nearly a year, having tumbled from the cliffs of the Reichenbach Fall on May 4, 1891. He would not return to Baker Street until early April, 1894. One respondent, however, also pointed out that Watson bungled a date in “The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist,” telling us that April 23, 1895 fell on a Saturday, when he could have easily checked a calendar to see that it had, in fact, been a Tuesday.
Congratulations to Vincent Wright, winner of the Strand calendar (and, incidentally, the source of the SOLI answer), and to Shiela Elder, who won the drawing for the BBC Sherlock calendar!
*Going from Watson’s description of the flat in “The Adventure of the Empty House,” this might be the same shelf as that holding the indexes. It must have been massive.
**Lellenberg, Jon, Daniel Stashower and Charles Foley, Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters. NY: Penguin, 2007, p.275.