7th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 7

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“Holmes, I seriously doubt that Moriarty is going to contact you via ‘Missed Connections.'”

Christmas, 1887


If Baring-Gould’s chronology is correct, eight of Holmes’s recorded adventures took place in 1887. These were:

  • “The Reigate Squires” (itself taking place as Holmes was recovering from an arduous case on the Continent)
  • “A Scandal in Bohemia”
  • “The Man with the Twisted Lip”
  • “The Five Orange Pips”
  • “A Case of Identity”
  • “The Red-Headed League”
  • “The Dying Detective”
  • “The Blue Carbuncle”


The last case, BLUE, took only a day in December (the 27th) 1887; DYIN, before it–and obviously a stressful affair–concluded on November 19th. Did Holmes have other work during that time? Or had he learned the lesson of REIG and given himself some time off for the holiday season? Whatever he got up to in the waning days of that year, it’s certain that at least a few times a week, he read through the newspaper “agony” columns–or, as he calls them in “The Adventure of the Red Circle”:

“… a chorus of groans, cries, and bleatings! A rag-bag of singular happening! But surely the most valuable hunting ground that was ever given to a student of the unusual.”

So, what are some of the more interesting “bleats” Holmes might have read during December, 1887? I found these possibilities….


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Ah, the Victorian “Missed Connection”!  (London Standard, December 7, 1887)

Honestly, I would advise her not to show up.  And then there’s this one–and I assume the writer means an actual carrier pigeon–


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London Standard, December 2, 1887

Honestly, this one sounds creepier than the “Red Lamp” message. I really hope she didn’t send her address….

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London Standard, December 3, 1887

Here is someone who seems to be having a Trelawney Hope moment. Do we seriously believe that the papers of Mr. Atkinson, M(ember) [of] P(arliament) would be only of interest to himself?

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London Standard, December 23, 1887

In this one, I have to wonder if they are really talking about a medical operation, or something else less…straightforward:

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London Standard, December 28, 1887

I could go on all day, honestly, because they really are as fascinating, and sometimes intriguing, as Sherlock Holmes declared them to be. But before we get to today’s question, here’s one more. I have not had time to see if I could decode it, but I may try my hand at it later today. If you can figure out the message (and tell us how you did it), let us know!!

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London Standard December 22, 1887

If you think about it, today’s little venture into history and the stories which Baring-Gould places in 1887 have a theme in common–pretending to be something (or someone) one is not. Personal ads lend themselves to dissembling and mystery, whether it be not knowing the true intentions of those “missed connections” advertisements, or messages which appear to be coded–or leave no doubt of it.  So, for today’s question–

For each of the stories listed above, tell me the name of the person who is pretending, and what/who they are pretending to be. Note: not every example will be malicious, and there could be more than one example in some of the stories–you need only give one.

Please send your entries to me via blog post or FB message. If your answer is selected, you will receive–Holmes and Watson in three of their “disguises”: The Canon pair, BBC Sherlock’s version, and the duo from Elementary–all finely knitted by a gifted friend of mine.


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Congratulations to Resa Haile, winner of the DeWaal bibliography! She knew (as did you all) that “Colonel Blessington” of “The Resident Patient,” was actually the bank robber, Sutton; Hatty Doran, of “The Noble Bachelor,” was already married when she married Lord St. Simon; and that Lady Hilda Trelawney Hope was hiding a relationship she had had prior to her marriage that had inspired some “sprightly” letters in “The Second Stain.”





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4 responses to “7th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 7

  1. Claire Daines

    Any luck with the cypher in the agony column? I tried it, and got nowhere!

    • I haven’t had the chance, but since you couldn’t crack it, I’m now guessing it’s not just a really simple substitution cipher!

      • Claire Daines

        I don’t think so, though it’s hard to tell with so many faded letters. Then again, the original language might not even be English, in which case I give up!