7th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 11

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Christmas, 1890


Well, we have looked a good deal at Christmas matters involving Sherlock Holmes, or Holmes and Watson together but, come the holiday season 1890, we know for certain that Dr. Watson had someone else to buy gifts for. Yes, while I could be missing someone, I think that, no matter whose chronology you look at, and how many wives we’re talking about,Mary Morstan had become Mary Watson by December of 1890, and I have to imagine that her husband wanted it to be a special Christmas for them both.

So. What would their Christmas look like?

Ok, let’s be honest. John H. Watson, M.D., no doubt spent the entire time looking after patients with cattarh and flu,  kids with earaches, measles, mumps, and various coughs; babies which decided to come at very inconvenient times, people with various injuries caused by slipping on ice, uneven pavement or heaven knows what, gout and lumbago flares, and indigestion–so that by the time he surfaced for New Year’s, even the leftover goose was gone and Mary had given up and was spending the rest of the winter with friends, none of whom actually understood what her husband’s professional life was like, and privately speculated that he had another flat (complete with music hall tart) in St. James’s Wood.

But let’s pretend that London remained miraculously healthy that year.  If so, John and Mary might have gone to some sort of classical music performance with John’s erstwhile flatmate, but it’s more likely that they went to see a special Christmas pantomime:


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The Stage, December 5, 1890


We know Mary was a kind and generous soul, so she likely devoted some of her time to charitable ventures like this one. I can see her knitting cuffs, can’t you?

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South London Press, December 20, 1890

And while I think we can be sure the Watsons were charitable this season, the mention of “cheques” in the article makes me wonder if Dr Watson didn’t give himself a little Christmas joy at the turf….


To offset this little indulgence, I am guessing he and Mary attended church services, either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day–perhaps one of these:


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Daily Telegraph December 24, 1890

There would, of course, be a goose for Christmas dinner, and if Mary, like many new brides, had received a copy of Mrs. Beeton’s Guide to Household Management at her wedding, she may have made this Christmas cake for her beloved–and whatever detective may have come over for company….
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Then, of course, there were the presents. Mary would have put a great deal of thought into John’s gift. Perhaps one of these:

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Or one of William Clark Russell’s sea stories. A Voyage at Anchor  and My Shipmate Louise were both published in 1890.

And for Mary? Sweets, of course.

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Some nice perfume….
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And some jewelry that was–hopefully–not tainted by thievery, treachery, and death.

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Maybe there was a little something for Holmes as well….

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Or perhaps they looked out at the weather, thought about all of the aches and runny noses, criminals (and detectives) out there, and decided to chuck it all and spend Christmas in Italy–just the two of them.

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That would be my choice.


Whatever they did, let’s hope they had a marvelous time, because next year, Christmas 1891, would be much, much different.

Although Watson was married and “back in harness,” he still apparently had time to accompany Holmes on at least 3 cases in 1890, and today’s question comes from one of those adventures.

How did Sherlock Holmes know that the sender of a telegram was a woman? 


Send your entry in via blog comment or FB post, and include your choice of prize–yes, there are two again this time, and yes, they are both records. Again, please note that I have not played them, and so cannot guarantee they don’t skip.

Prize 1:






Prize 2:



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