7th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 8


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Christmas, 1887–AGAIN.


To all of you with sharp eyes and sharper minds, it may seem that with yesterday’s entry, I made a mistake.  AND YOU WOULD BE RIGHT!!!!!  I have no idea where my head has been lately (and no, you are not permitted to guess), but after reminding myself for weeks, I completely forgot to devote yesterday’s entry to what may arguably be the Most Important Sherlockian Event Ever. After all, Christmas 1887  was the season (if not the actual date) which saw the publication of

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Imagine finding this under your tree!

The truth is, I did search for news about the Annual, but my search terms were off, so I missed the (very) few articles mentioning this Miracle of Literature. Then I found the coded agony ad, and it was all over.

Tonight, however, I decided to search again, using different terms, and lo and behold…..

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First, from The Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle:



The publishers of Beeton’s Christmas Annual (Messrs. Ward, Lock, and Co.) have been fortunate to secure the services of our townsman, Dr. A. Conan Doyle, who is now well-known in literary circles as a rising writer of fiction. Dr. Conan Doyle has prepared for Beeton’s Christmas fare A Study in Scarlet, which for exciting incidents, clever construction, and artistic development of plot, will compare with any of the Christmas annuals with which the bookstalls are now deluged. This student in scarlet is one Sherlock Holmes, a consulting detective of most amusing eccentricities and strangely balanced powers. For instance, in a curious table which a young medical man who shares rooms with Sherlock Holmes draws up for his own amusement we learn that this strange creation knows nothing of literature, philosophy, astronomy, or politics; that his knowledge of botany was confined to poisons; that his geological information was summed up in being able to tell different soils from each other at a glance, and to know by looking at the mud splashes on his trousers in what part of London he had received them; that his knowledge of chemistry was profound; and that he appeared to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century. As he said himself, “A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out. or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he had difficulty in laying hands on it.” This was his excuse for knowing nothing of the solar system. Sherlock Holmes carried out his theory to its extreme limits, and by training his powers of observation to an extraordinary degree became a master of the science of deduction and an unrecognised Prince among the detectives of London. The story proper tells how the “Lauriston Garden Mystery” was solved by this strange being. We will not let the public into the secret of the mystery here. They must go to the book itself for that and we promise them that their shillings will be well expended. It is sufficient to say that the mystery is mixed up with love and Mormonism; that it presents weird pictures of the terrible autocracy of Brigham Young; exciting passages of escape through the lines of his relentless sentinels; the merciless pursuit of a revengeful purpose from the home of the chosen people to the busy streets of London; and the triumphant application of the science of deduction in the person of Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Dr. Conan Doyle’s reputation as a man of letters will be greatly enhanced by this remarkable tale, which is bound to be popular, and which our readers will do well not to overlook.  —December 3, 1887


The Graphic’s reviewer was not as enthusiastic–and definitely not very observant:

THE LAST CHRISTMAS NUMBERS.–“A Study in Scarlet” is the name of the anonymous story which is the chief attraction in Beeton’s Christmas Annual. It is not at all a bad imitation; but it would never have been written but for Poe, Gaboriau, and Mr. R.L. Stevenson. The hero of the tale is simply the hero of “The Murder in the Rue Morgue.” Those who like detective stories, and have not read the great originals, will find the tale full of interest. It hangs together well, and finishes ingeniously.–December 10, 1887


The Morning Post writer, tasked with reviewing a pile of holiday annuals may not have even read the story….

Beeton’s Christmas Annual has a realistic novel by A. C. Doyle, called “A Study in Scarlet,” and two drawing-room plays, the first being “Food for Powder,” by R. Andre, and the second “The Four-Leaved Shamrock,” by C.J. Hamilton. The illustrations are, on the whole, excellent.–December 19, 1887

The Bristol Mercury  reviewer is more concerned with medical than historical accuracy. Also, it’s the “Four-Leaved Shamrock”:

A Study in Scarlet,  By A.C. Doyle (London: Ward, Lock, and Co.)

This is the title of the modern representative of a valued friend of a quarter century ago, “Beeton’s Christmas Annual.” Mr. Doyle has written a story which brings in the vengeful deeds by which the Mormons used to maintain their institution, polygamy, and tells how one of their crimes was avenged in London, and how the mystery thereof was traced out by an amateur detective, who regards Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin as a very inferior fellow, and Lecoq as a miserable bungler. The story is very exciting and well told after the first start, and as the narrator is a doctor we presume his pathology of aneurism is correct. Two drawing-room plays are appended, the less weak of which is “The Two-Leaved Shamrock,” by C.J. Hamilton.–December 21, 1887

This reviewer at The Sheffield Independent is my favorite–and probably one of the very first to enjoy “a long evening with Holmes…”

BEETON’S CHRISTMAS ANNUAL. A Study in Scarlet, being a reprint from the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D., late of the Army Medical Department. Ward, Lock, and Co., London and New York.

A snowy night, a good fire, and this annual will make a man comfortable if anything can.–December 15, 1887.

So there they are–the first public glimpses of The Great Detective. Just think–none of these reviewers (or the author who finally settled for £25 just to get that story sold) had any idea how famous “this strange creation” was going to be, even a year hence. We’ll soon see how things changed in 1888.

And since you’re now all thinking about A Study in Scarlet, let’s test your memories….

How did Jefferson Hope and Lucy Ferrier meet?

Send you answers in for the drawing via blog comment or FB Message, and you’ll be the recipient of another Sherlock Holmes “book club.” You’ll receive one book in January, one in February, and one in March–and this time the focus is on recent pastiche or Holmes-related fiction–

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Good luck, and have a wonderful New Year’s Eve!


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Emily Todd is the winner of the knitted dolls! Her answer:

In “The Reigate Squires,” Father and Son Cunningham pretended their home was the target of a burglary to shift blame of the murder of their coachman [another popular answer–Holmes faking a “spell”].  In “A Scandal in Bohemia,” The King of Bohemia pretended to be Count von Kramm, an intermediary for the king [other answers–Irene Adler in men’s clothing, or Holmes pretending to be a clergyman]. In “The Twisted Lip, Neville St. Clair pretended to be Hugo Boone, the beggar. In “A Case of Identity,” Mr. Windibank pretended to be Hosmer Angel, his stepdaughter’s fiancee. In “The Red-Headed League, John Clay pretended to be Vincent Spaulding’s pawn assistant [and his assistant, Archie, pretending to be Duncan Ross].  In “The Dying Detective,” Holmes pretended to be ill. In “The Five Orange Pips,” The Klan staged their attacks on the Openshaws as accidents [another possible answer–Col. Openshaw hiding his history in the Klan]. In “The Blue Carbuncle,” Holmes pretended to have a bet with Watson over geese.




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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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7th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 6

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Berkeley Square, London, c. 1880

Christmas, 1886


Well, as I am sure you’ve been able to tell, I’ve been following Christmas year-by-year, beginning the year Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson met. I was thinking of doing a recipe this time, or maybe a look at Christmas cards. Maybe something about blackmail. And then I found…this. This very strange story, in the 23 December, 1886 issue of the St. James Gazette. If Sherlock Holmes had read it–and we do know he kept up with the London papers–how would he see it? As a piece of black humour? Satire? A holiday homage to DeQuincey? As a creepy story? Or perhaps as a…confession? See what you think.



At rest by my good sea-coal fire, my pipe at hand, the curtains of my room  pinned together with pen-nibs, I dream back to a Christmas Eve of the long-ago. The sleet flings itself at the windows, to fall back exhausted like–like–like salmon trying to mount a caul. Far below, the waits are singing in the street. It will be precisely–yers on Friday night since I throttled the waits and buried them in Berkeley-square. I have made allowances for the waits ever since; fearing too often that I have a crime on my conscience. Did I do right? After all, may not these men have had their feelings?

It is so long ago that I cannot be expected to remember all the details. Indeed, I am never quite sure whether there were two of them or three. There wee certainly two, and I remember that I took the man with the beard first. The incident would have made more impression on me had there been any talk about it. So far as I could discover, it never got into the papers. The police did not seem to think it any affair of theirs, though one of them must have guessed wha I invited the waits upstairs. He saw me open the door to them; he was aware that this was their third visit in a week; and only the night before he had heard me shout a warning to them from my study-window. But of course the police must allow themselves a certain amount o discretion in the performance of their duties. Then there was the gentleman of the next door but two, who ran against me just as I was toppling the second body over the railing. We were not acquainted, but I knew him as a man who had flunga flower-pot at the waits the night before. He stopped short when he saw the body (it had rolled out of the sofa-rug), and looked at me suspiciously. “He is one of the waits,” I said. “I beg your pardon,” he replied, “I did not understand.” When he had passed a few yards he turned round. “Better cover him up,” he said, or people will talk.” Then he strolled away, an air from “The Grand Duchess” lightly trolling from his lips. We still meet occasionally, and nod if no one is looking.

I am going too fast, however. What I meant to say was that the murder was premeditated. In the case of a reprehensible murder, I know this would be considered an aggravation of the offence. Of course it is an open question whether all murders are not reprehensible; but let that pass. To my own mind I should have been indeed deserving of punishment had I rushed out and slain the waits in a moment of fury. If one were to give way to his passion every time he is interrupted in his work or his sleep by bawlers–be they waits or Socialists or what not–our thoroughfares would soon be choked with the dead. No one values human life or understands its sacredness more than I do. I merely say that  there may be times when  man, having stood a great deal and thought it over calmly, is justified in taking the law into his own hands–always supposing he can do it decently, quietly, and without scandal. I am a physician with a practice which keeps me hard at work until late in the evening. What repose I get is late at night, after my household have retired to rest; and it is my custom to sit up into the small hours, thinking over my more dangerous cases. Often I have been rung up just as I had got into bed and had to go off to see a patient. I never grudged that. But the epidemic of waits was another matter. It broke out early in December, and every other night or so these torments came in the stillest hours and burst into song beneath my windows. They made me nervous. I was more wretched on the nights they did not come than on the nights they did; for I had taken to listening for them, and was never sure they had gone into another locality before four o’clock in the morning. As for their songs, they were more like music-hall ditties than Christmas carols. So one morning–it was, I think, the 23rd of December–I warned them fairly, fully, and with particulars, of what would happen if they disturbed me again. Having given them this warning, can it be said that I was to blame–at least, to any considerable extent? Surely not; especially at this time of year, when charity is in the very air and we are all expected to be lenient one to another. I do not pretend to be faultless.

Christmas Eve had worn into Christmas morning, before the waits  arrived on that fateful occasion. I opened the window–if my memory does not deceive me–at once, and looked down at them. I could not swear to their being the persons whom I had warned the night before. Perhaps I should have made sure of this. But in any case these were practised waits. Their whine rushed in at my open window with a vigour that proved them no tyros. Besides, the night was a cold one for lingering long at an open casement. I nodded pleasantly to them, and pointed to my door. Then I ran downstairs and let them in. They came up to the study with me.As I have said, the lapse of time prevents me remembering how many of them there were; three, I fancy. At all events, I took them into my ante room and strangled them one by one. They went  off quite peaceably; the only difficulty was in the disposal of the bodies. I thought of laying them on the kerbstone or in different passages; but I was afraid the  police might not see that they were waits, in which case I might be put to inconvenience. So I took a spade, and, climbing into the gardens of Berkeley-square, dug two (or three) large holes. Then I carried the bodies to the place in my rug one at a time, shoved them in, and covered them up. A close observer might have noticed in that part of the garden, for some time after, a small mound, such as might be made by an elbow under the bedclothes. Nobody, however, seems to have descried it, and yet I see it often even now in my dreams.

The worst of the affair’s attracting no attention is that it does not serve as a warning to other waits. They were never harder at it than they have been this year. However, I have done what I could, and I have no intention of making an annual thing of it. I may have been wrong, but I acted for the best; and, after all, motive is everything in these cases.




Of course the murderer wouldn’t actually be a physician living in Berkeley Square. But the bones of the story–could they have been true? It’s interesting to think about the “what if’s.”

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I was perfectly sane before those blasted waits….

Every story in the Canon involves people with secrets–and secrets have a way of coming out, particularly when Sherlock Holmes gets involved. The 3 adventures Baring-Gould says take place in 1886–“The Resident Patient,” “The Noble Bachelor,” and “The Second Stain” all feature people trying to hide their pasts. Who are they–and what are they trying to hide?

Like our hero, Sherlockians are all about “what really happened,” and have been for well over a century now. Today’s prize is a classic in that field:


Ronald Burt DeWaal, BSI (“The Wigmore Street Post”) who died this past July, was a librarian, exhibit curator, and professor whose most famous Sherlockian achievement is his bibliography of all known material relating to Sherlock Holmes–as of 1974. He followed it with 1980’s The Universal Sherlock Holmes, and, ultimately, with 1994’s multi-volume or electronic Universal Sherlock Holmes, edited by George Vanderburgh.* To enter the drawing to add this volume to your Sherlockian shelf, just send your answer in via blog comment or FB message!

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Kristen Franseen is the winner of the bag of Holmesian goodies! For her “bad gifts,” she chose the box of salted ears sent by Jim Browner to Susan Cushing (“The Cardboard Box”), and the ivory box of tropical disease Culverton Smith sent to Sherlock Holmes (“The Dying Detective”). Others of you mentioned the 5 orange pips Elias Openshaw received from Capt. James Calhoun (“The Five Orange Pips”) and the “bequest” Jonas Oldacre made to the unhappy John Hector McFarlane (“The Norwood Builder”).


*If you are interested in this work, contact Mr. Vanderburgh at:

George A. Vanderburgh, M.D.
The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box
P.O. Box 50, R.R. #4
Eugenia, Ontario
Canada N0C 1E0

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7th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 5


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Christmas, 1885


What’s the worst Christmas present you’ve ever received? Santa’s “Norbury,” as it were?

For me, it was two pair of striped socks–one green and yellow, the other, black and orange, from my grandmother when I was 12. I had reached the age where I knew there was no Santa, I no longer played with toys, and, like many adolescents (I’d be 13 in a few weeks) expected for people to somehow “know” me. The socks were a perfectly reasonable gift–and I wore the green and yellow ones quite a bit once I got over myself–the problem was never with them, only with me.

That being said, some gifts are truly awful, even in Victorian England. While many  people were unwrapping candy, tea in pretty containers, bottles of liquor or wine, fine tobacco, gloves, or even jewelry or watches, some unfortunates found these in their stockings on Christmas, 1885:

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Although, to be honest, children were probably thrilled. I’m thinking more of the parents.

I have to wonder if Holmes or Watson ever thought of one of these–to give Mrs. Hudson a little fright….

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Ok, that is just cruel. One hopes they were only “warranted” to play for a few days.

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If only a certain doctor had stuck to these….

These ads were all screen-shot from Ally Sloper’s Half Christmas Holiday, the Christmas edition of Ally Sloper’s Half-Holiday, the first comics magazine featuring one character–“Ally Sloper,” a lazy man who spent a good deal of time hiding from his creditors. It was very popular in its late Victorian heyday, although, looking through it, I have to say that much of its humor is beyond me.

There are a few bad–even wicked–gifts mentioned in the Canon. Can you name two? And how about the giver, and the recipient? Send your answers in and hopefully you’ll find this gift a little more to your liking….

Like the items above, it is a bit of a mixed bag–but a good one, I hope!


There is a tote bag, a big green notebook, a small yellow notebook, a pair of socks and a finger puppet. So if your stocking was lacking in Holmes this year, send your answer to the above question in via blog comment, or FB message!

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Jim McArthur is the winner of the BSJ subscription!  The answer, to quote Holmes himself, in “The Problem of Thor Bridge”: “There is little to share, but we may discuss it when you have consumed the two hard-boiled eggs with which our new cook has favored us. Their condition may not be unconnected with the copy of the Family Herald which I observed yesterday upon the hall-table. Even so trivial a matter as cooking an egg demands an attention which is conscious of the passage of time and incompatible with the love romance in that excellent periodical.”

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Attenta! Special Announcement!

Ok, obviously my brain was not functioning today, as I neglected to post a link to Day 4’s post on FaceBook. To make sure the FB people have plenty of time to play, I will therefore draw for both the Day 4 and 5 prized on the evening of Saturday, December 29th.

So sorry, guys!

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7th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 4


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“Such romantic exaggeration, Watson! My papers are not stacked ‘to the rafters!'”

It probably goes without saying–although we are going to say it–that Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are great readers. Whether  engrossed in Clark Russell’s sea stories or the  stacks of philology books in aCornwall cottage, they spend a great deal of any free time they have filling their brain attics with things they deem valuable. It’s fairly reasonable, then to imagine that they looked forward to Christmas and its flood of “Annuals”–special magazine issues with stories and articles by premier authors and the occasional up-and-comer.

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Like this one.

Of course, we’re a few years too early, still. Here are some of the Christmas annuals for 1884….

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Screenshot from Pall Mall Gazette, December 4, 1884 (British Newspaper Archive)


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This was probably more Mrs. Hudson’s style, although Watson does know a lot about women’s clothing. Screenshot from the London Evening Standard, December 2, 1884 (British Newspaper Archive)

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Body-snatching. It doesn’t get any more Christmassy than that. Screenshot from St John’s, Oxford, Special Collections Blog.

You know what other periodical does a special annual Christmas volume? Yep. That’s the one. And if you win today’s drawing, you’ll receive your own subscription to the Baker Street Journal–the name in Sherlockian scholarship. From serious research to “playing The Game,” you’ll find it in the five volumes (4 quarterlies and the Christmas issue) you’ll receive in the coming year.

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To be eligible for the drawing, just send in your answer to this question:

While I don’t see any cases listed for 1884 in Baring-Gould’s chronology, there are 3 mentions of magazines or periodicals in the Canon. My question is this: What connection can you make between The Family Herald and breakfast?

As always, send your answers to me via blog comment or FB message–either the Well-Read Sherlockian page’s account, or my own, if we know each other “in real life.”


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Congratulations to Ching Ju Teng, who knew (as did all of you), that the ill-fated Julia Stoner met her fiancé at the home of her Aunt, Honoria Westphail, who lived in Harrow. Oddly enough, Harrow is also the home of the famous school of the same name, and BBC Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch is an “Old Harrovian.” (To keep things even, Jeremy Brett attended Eton).

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7th Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 3

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I don’t think it means what he thinks it means…. (Image from Worthpoint of an ebayUK item)

So. Christmas dinner traditions. Lots of people have them. In my husband’s family, they had a sitdown roast beef dinner with the customary sides, along with trifle and floating island for dessert. Everyone dressed formally (ties, etc.), and although they were a “Christmas Eve presents” family, no one was allowed to open anything until the dishes were washed and his father read “The Night Before Christmas” aloud.

Um, in my family, the only tradition for years was getting up at all hours on Christmas Eve to “go down to the bathroom” when we were really checking to see if Santa had shown up. Once it was determined that he had, we lay awake in our beds for about 30 hours until my parents told us we could get up and turn the living room into an explosion of wrapping paper (there were 14 kids, eventually–it was a lot of paper). When I was 13, my father decided that, for religious reasons, we weren’t going to celebrate Christmas.* We substituted with a New Year’s tradition: renting movies and eating a TON of junk food. At first, these were actually reel-to-reel movies played on a screen and projector we got from the library. Later, we rented a TV-cum-VCR from Rent-a-Center (we didn’t have a television, either).** It was tremendous fun, and even now, my favorite Christmas food is the cheese ball.

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Oh, yeah.

As we all know from classics like A Christmas Carol and “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle,” one of the centerpieces (literally, perhaps) of the Victorian Christmas dinner table was the roast Christmas goose. Have you ever had one? I have not, and probably never will–in my head, geese (like ducks) are birds you toss treats to at the park–although geese are meaner, and a little scary once your bread-bag is empty. I can’t really imagine eating them. A lot of people could, however, and since they were apparently expensive, they were given as gifts, raffle prizes, and could be bought in installments by members of “goose clubs.”

As we’ve seen, the latter two could be problematic. Along with the poor fellow who didn’t receive his goose, etc., from the raffle, another December, 1881 article detailed the dilemma of a goose club whose treasurer absconded with all of their money. Reading these, I started to get curious about how the difference between the raffle and the “goose club,” and found this article from The Globe, dated 7 December, 1883:


A case of considerable interest to publicans at this season of the year, came into the West Riding Police-court the other day. The landlord of a local inn being summoned for allowing gambling to take place on his premises, the police gave evidence that a leg of pork had been raffled for. The defendant offered no denial, but pleaded general custom in excuse for the technical breach of law. Other publicans’ he affirmed, were allowed to have raffles for food and drink, in order to draw custom to their houses, and why should he be debarred? As the police brought forward the case avowedly as a test, it would appear that the defendant was correct in pleading general use and wont, and the bench, recognising the strength of that excuse, dismissed the case. Yet it is beyond question that raffling is gambling within the meaning of the law. Those who join, pay their money on the chance of winning something of higher value than the amount subscribed, and it matters nothing at all whether the prize be a sum of money or the equivalent in goods. Goose and turkey clubs stand on an altogether different footing, because all subscribers get, or are supposed to get, their money’s worth. But in the first half of December public-house raffles for spirits, tobacco, and other seasonable luxuries are by no means uncommon, and they will not be diminished in number by this magisterial decision acknowledging their legality.



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They’re off the hook, then. (“The Goose Club,” by Phiz; image from Victorian Web)

Now that we have that cleared up (and aren’t you relieved!), it’s time to post today’s contest. According to Baring-Gould, “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” occurred in 1883, so it is the source of today’s question:

Where did the ill-fated Julia Stoner meet her fiancé, and how does that location connect to an actor who later portrayed Sherlock Holmes?

If you win, you get to go “Holmes for the Holidays”with these two anthologies, containing stories by Anne Perry, Loren Estleman, Carole Nelson Douglas, Daniel Stashower and Tanith Lee, among others. These are used books, in very good condition, copyright 1996 and 1999, respectively. And I will never get used to the 90’s being over 20 years ago.


As always, to play, send your answer to today’s question to me via blog comment or FB message. Hope your day–whether filled with traditions or not–was a wonderful one!

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…to Marie-Claire, winner of the True Victorian Crime Book Club! As many of you pointed out, there are a lot of poisoners in the Canon. Her candidates were these:
1. Enoch Drebber from STUD, killed by Jefferson Hope, poison of choice: alkaloid.
2. Brenda Tregennis, from DEVI, killed by Mortimer Tregennis (later killed himself by Leonard Sterndale; poison of choice, Radix pedis diaboli (Devil’s-foot root)
3. The baby in SUSS (who lives), poisoned by Jack Ferguson using a dart tipped with curare or another South American poison.

*So, technically, not all of my siblings had a traditional Christmas, as my youngest brother wasn’t born until I was 16.

**When our Magnavox console bit the dust in 1979-80-ish, my parents just didn’t replace it. 1980’s TV is unknown territory to me.


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