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12th Night Giveaway: Day 11

In my day, we had to shovel our way to school!

In my day, we had to shovel our way to school!

Well, kids, this is it! The last weekend of Christmas Break! In just two short days, we’ll be back to our regular routines, and the sound of moaning and groaning over homework will be heard throughout the land! Doubtless many kids will find that they’ve forgotten just a little bit of what they learned this fall–or perhaps it’s just buried in their brain attics under visions of fading sugarplums. They’ll need a little review before they’re back up to speed.

It can be that way in the Sherlockian world as well. Some stories (particularly those with Granada episodes attached) are heavily imprinted in our minds, to the point that we can recall minute details, and quote passages to fit any situation. Others, however, are not as well known or frequently read. For me, one of those is “The Adventure of the Three Students.” It’s a quieter story, with (relatively) smaller stakes. To refresh my knowledge, I thought I’d give it a re-read, hence today’s question:

In “The Adventure of the Three Students,” lecturer and tutor Hilton Soames gives Holmes and Watson the names of the, well, three students he believes most likely to have tampered with the examination. Who are they? Who does Watson suspect? And who, ultimately, proves to be the culprit?

Today we have another dual prize, each chosen to help you supplement your Sherlockian education. First:


Nicholas Utechin’s Amazing and Extraordinary Facts: Sherlock Holmes

Nicholas Utechin is a well-known Holmesian scholar, a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, the BSI, and other organizations. I didn’t use this book in coming up with this year’s questions, but that’s not saying I might not in the future….

And speaking of the future, if you’re a fan of BBC Sherlock, then you know that Season 4 (plus the special) begins filming on 6 January. Today’s alternate prize is a great way to bring yourself up to speed before they air…whenever…they air…..


It’s a fantastic book, so if it wasn’t one of your holiday gifts–now’s your chance!

As always, send your answers along with your choice of prize via FaceBook PM, Twitter DM, or blog comment. For full rules, see the entry for 20 December.


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12th Night Giveaway, Day 9



And now it’s 2015!  Hopefully you get to lounge around a bit today, before flinging yourself into the new year in earnest tomorrow. For many of us, with the new year comes a feeling of possibility–the urge to change something in ourselves for the better, or to set a goal we’ve always wanted to achieve, and to–finally!–make it happen. Whatever your dreams and desires for this year–even if they’re just that it’s better than the last one–I hope that they come true.

Which leads us to today’s question:

We don’t have any record of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson making New Year’s resolutions, but they both have some bad habits that they may have wanted to change (or, more likely that they wished others to change) and goals they wished to achieve. For today’s question, give one or the other (one of each if you’re feeling ambitious!), as well as the story in which it can be found.


The first prize of the New Year is, I think, slightly appropriate. It is the Canon novel in which we find Sherlock Holmes in a new phase of life…




This is a first American edition, published by George H. Doran & Co., New York. It was a gift to “George” from “The Family” in 1917 “With Best Wishes,” going from the pencilled message on the fly-leaf. It has had at least one other owner, whose name is written in ink on the same page. It’s not in perfect condition. As far as booksellers’ ratings go, it is in the “poor” range, which is the only way I was able to afford it!  There is some rippling on the spine, where the cloth has loosened, although it didn’t affect either cover. The binding is a bit loose and the hinges are damaged; there is noticeable shelf wear, and some staining inside the covers. There may be a little bit of “foxing,”  or brown spotting in some areas. That being said, it may not fetch a great price online, but I think it’s a nice book for any collection.

This is the rippling on the spine.

This is the rippling on the spine.



Title page

Title page


As always, to enter the drawing, send your answers in via FaceBook PM, Twitter DM, or blog comment! For full rules, see the post for 20 December.

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12th Night Giveaway: Day 8

My husband had hair just like that, I swear.

My husband had hair just like that, I swear.

These days, it’s unusual to see a popular movie or television show without some sort of merchandising tie-in. The Star Wars franchise made the practice into an art form, but even in decades previous there were Lone Ranger lunch boxes, Batman coloring books, Shirley Temple dolls and Little Orphan Annie decoder rings. People love to find ways to bring the characters and performers they love into their daily lives, and while it’s easy to get jaded about this part of human nature when it intersects with the equally human desire for “great gain,” it’s a boon for those of us with the collecting gene.

Which is why we have this.

Which is why we have this.

I must confess, I have been tempted several times to just keep today’s prize for myself. It is that cool. An early example of a Sherlock Holmes media tie-in. When this book was printed, William Gillette was the face of Sherlock Holmes, and publicity stills from his play serve as illustrations. This was no doubt a primary draw for some fans. One can, however, imagine some of the older set (who had read Holmes in the original Beeton’s) grumping that Mr. Gillette is too attractive to truly be the Great Detective, and that they prefer Paget. Or Gutschmidt. Or Charles Doyle. Ok, probably not him.

Unfortunately, the book is not the novelised version of Gillette’s play. Or rather, fortunately, for if it had been, I would have kept it.

For, um...my museum....

For, um…my museum….

Instead, it’s the novel A Study in Scarlet. But even if the story and the photos don’t completely match, it’s still a wonderful treasure, and I hope you enjoy playing for it.


It’s not in pristine condition. As you can see there is some cover wear, shelf wear, and a small amount of writing on the inside front flyleaf. There is some slight pull-away to the hinges. I can provide photos of this if it is a concern. Here are some inside shots:




The ads in the back are a nice touch, and help to date the book between 1900 (the play debuted in London in November of 1899), and 1917, when the Iron Route advertised closed.

So then, today’s question:


Sherlock Holmes was himself a “fan” of particular performers. If he had a collection, to whom might it have been devoted? (Hint: There are several possible answers).

As always, send your answers in via FaceBook PM, Twitter DM, or blog comment for your chance to win. For full rules, see the blog entry for 20 December. Good luck!

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12th Night Giveaway: Day 7

Sometimes the identity of the villain is as plain as the ancestral nose on his face.

Sometimes the identity of the villain is as plain as the ancestral nose on his face.


Photos are everywhere nowadays. Even when I was a kid, photographs tended to be of specials occasions–birthdays, holidays, weddings, that sort of thing–and they were filed meticulously in albums or (in the case of my own family) kept in boxes. We had 3 albums and two small wooden boxes for over 20 years-worth of polaroids and photos that one stuck onto adhesive cardboard backings.* Now, I have well over 100 photos on my phone, many times that on my hard drive, and those of you whippersnappers with Instagram or other apps, well…..

Sherlock Holmes never took a selfie, however. We really have no idea what he looks like, even now. But over the past century or so, we have had dozens of actors portray him, each of whom, no doubt, became someone’s mental version of the Great Detective. Which leads me to today’s prize offering:


Admit it: they do beat Beecher and Gordon now, don't they?

Admit it: they do beat Beecher and Gordon now, don’t they?


If you can’t have a photo of the real Sherlock Holmes, these should do in a pinch. They are: William Gillette (bottom), and top, left to right, Jeremy Brett, Robert Stephens, and Christopher Plummer. Gillette is not in his Holmesian garb, but it’s really an awesome (and slightly rakish) photo, so I thought I’d throw it in. They are all prints, not originals, but they will look very nice in an album or framed on your sitting-room wall.

For your chance to win, simply answer the following question:



*No, they were not cabinet photos, and yes, I am very old.

Film never forgets, and sometimes, it reappears when we least expect it, throwing our past into the face of our present. Several of Holmes’s clients sought him out because their youthful indiscretions had come back to haunt them–or to threaten someone they loved. Name two, as well as the name of the case. Photographs may or may not be involved.

Send your answer to me via FaceBook PM, Twitter DM, or blog comment. Full rules can be found in the entry for 20 December.

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12th Night Giveaway: Day 6

No, they don't wear no scrubs....

No, they don’t wear no scrubs….


Reference books are all well and good of course, but eventually they become outdated–particularly in a field like medicine, where new discoveries are made all the time. When John Watson was born, many physicians were still be trained via apprenticeship, and many of the remedies available were insufficient, or even dangerous. By the time he would likely have been ready to retire, he and his colleagues had access to anaesthesia, could perform many operations successfully, and understood the importance of sanitary procedures. Diseases once thought to be attributable to bodily “humours” were now understood to be the product of bacteria or viruses, and disease prevention measures, such as sanitary sewers, hand washing, and vaccinations were becoming more commonplace. Pharmacology had advanced far beyond calomel and laudanum, with attempts manufacturing safer pain medications and, in 1929, the break-through drug, penicillin.

Any responsible and passionate physician would have wanted to keep up on these exciting  developments, but medical texts then as now would have been outdated nearly as soon as they were printed. The solution? Medical journals, published weekly or monthly. Hence, today’s question:

Passionate and responsible physician that he was, John Watson kept up his continuing medical education by reading which prestigious publication?

As Sherlockians, we too must keep abreast of research in our field, and one of the most reliable ways to do that is through the Baker Street Journal. I was, frankly, astounded at last year’s response to a set of old issues, and so am very pleased to be able to offer another this year. This is a complete set of Volume 2, 1947, 4 issues. They are in fair condition; two are in great shape, while two display some sort of moisture damage on the spine. For those of you who are sensitive to such things, they do smell like musty old paper, but there’s no mold. A casual glance-through revealed no writing inside,so I unfortunately cannot tell you to whom they belonged. I was a little intrigued, however, by the seller’s last name….

Sinister, isn't it?

Sinister, isn’t it?


Here are the journals themselves:


As always, to enter the drawing, send your answer to me via FaceBook PM, Twitter DM, or blog comment. Full rules can be found on the blog entry for 20 December. Happy Researching!

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12th Night Giveaway: Day 5

HMS Orontes of John Watson fame.

HMS Orontes of John Watson fame.

Not that I want to find out, personally, but I’m guessing that there’s a great deal of travelling going on out there today. Most of it likely involves planes, trains, and automobiles, and if you’re on the road or in the air today, I hope your travels are safe and trouble-free.

Today, ships are most commonly used for freight transport, fishing, and leisure travel. During the time that Holmes and Watson were in active practice on Baker Street, however, they were the only way to accomplish an overseas voyage. As such, they pop up quite regularly in the Canon. Today’s question has to do with two such vessels:

 Where can one find mention of the barque “Lone Star” and the steamer “Norah Creina,” and what do the two ships have in common?

Send your answers in via FaceBook PM, Twitter DM, or blog comment–and remember, if you’ve already won, you can play for a second prize…or you can play without wanting a prize at all. And speaking of prizes, this time we’re going over to the BBC part of the fandom. I am so excited to be able to offer you a “Cumberclay,” created by the lovely Vereen T. Joeng. This is a clay version of one of her famous cupcake toppers, in an acryclic case. It is a little tilted in the photo because I didn’t want to open it, but trust me, it is adorable!*

Ah! He's so cute!

Ah! He’s so cute! (Larger photo so you can really see it)

As always, just send in your answers via FaceBook PM, Twitter DM, or blog comment. Remember, you can win twice in the regular drawings, and full rules can be found in the blog entry for 20 December.


* Just in case you don’t win, but would love a “Clay” of your own (and they’re not just of Benedict), you can visit Vereen’s blog for information on what she has available and ordering at the link. They were shockingly affordable, and she ships quickly and securely: http://cumberclay.com/

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12th Night Giveaway: Day 4

Charts. What a pain. Maybe I don't want to keep my privileges, CCH!

Charts. What a pain. Maybe I don’t want to keep my privileges, CCH!

So now we’re into the holiday weekend. Hopefully you’re enjoying it in the ways you like best, whether it’s spending time with friends and family, burning through your gift cards, lounging on the beach, or simply binge-watching movies in your pajamas. Quite a few of you, though, will be spending this Saturday the way you spend every Saturday: at work.

Dr. John Watson, M.D. empathizes. Because if there are two professions who are never completely off the job, it’s doctors and detectives. And if you’re a doctor who moonlights as a detective, well, then, you’re always on call.

Ok, I'm scheduled off today, and you want me to round in two hospitals and pick up some consults?

Ok, I’m scheduled off today, and you want me to round in two hospitals and pick up some consults?

We don’t get to see a great deal of Watson, the physician, in the Canon. He mentions seeing patients, treats a thumb amputation with carbolic acid and is always ready with the brandy and biscuits, but given Conan Doyle’s actual medical experience, it’s interesting that we don’t get to see him in action a little bit more. A true Boswell, he downplays his own skills to highlight those of his friend.

That being said, through the experiences of both Watson and the gifted young Dr. Percy Trevelyan, we do get a picture of how difficult it was to establish a profitable medical practice in London. One needed either a lot of money or a bit of luck and, as Trevelyan’s story shows us, one cannot trust that his “luck” is actually good. After his marriage, Watson found himself needing to go into “harness” for the first time since leaving the Army. Lacking the funds to simply take rooms in the famous Harley Street, he had to settle for a less prestigious area and a practice which was in decline. Today’s question, then, is:

From whom did Dr. Watson purchase his first medical practice, and why was it for sale?

When he moved into his new consulting rooms, Dr. Watson likely brought with him quite a few medical reference books. We Sherlock Holmes aficionados tend to have our own favorites in that line. Today’s prize, therefore, is one I am very excited to offer: D. Martin Dakin’s  A Sherlock Holmes Commentary. I cannot tell you how many times I have turned to this book for quick story summaries, a look at common debates and, most importantly, a concise and comprehensible discussion of the more famous chronologies. This copy has its original dust jacket and is in excellent condition (although the binding is extra tight and may not be flexible). Just send your answers in via FaceBook PM, Twitter DM, or blog comment, and you’ll be entered in the drawing! For further rules, remember, see the blog entry for 20 December.


Day 3 Winner!

Congratulations to today’s drawing winner, Monte Elder! He actually sent in several options as answers: for Holmes, Winwood Reade’s The Martyrdom of Man, mentioned in SIGN and the “Agony” column in the Times (ENGR); for Watson, those sea stories by Clark Russell (FIVE), and the works of both Edgar Allan Poe and Thomas Carlisle (STUD). Other entries mentioned these books, along with Gaboriau’s Lecoq (STUD, likely both Watson and Holmes), Le Vie Boheme (STUD, Watson), and The Practical Handbook of Bee Culture,written by Holmes–so, of course, read by him as well.

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12th Night Giveaway: Day 3

Arguably the most important Sherlockian book ever.

Arguably the most important Sherlockian book ever.

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.

Hint: It was probably not Sherlock Holmes.

Hint: It was probably not Sherlock Holmes.

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:

And when I say "ornate..."

And when I say “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.

Oh, Watson!

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.

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12th Night Giveaway: Day 2

Whitaker's almanack

Precision matters when you’re a detective. Whether you’re determining a bicyclist’s direction via tire tracks, or the intelligence of a man by his hat size, you’ve got to be accurate in your observations. A quick glance or a slap-dash measurement won’t do. It’s the same when it comes to time. The “curious coincidence” of the installation of a vent and faux bell-pull with the death of Miss Julia Stoner set Holmes on the trail of a merciless killer in “The Adventure of the Speckled Band.” In “The Adventure of the Creeping Man,” Trevor Bennett’s meticulous record-keeping helps the detective deduce the reasons for Professor Presbury’s disturbing behavior.

Watson, however, is not so meticulous when it comes to the calendar. Scores of articles and not a few books have been written by Sherlockians determined to come up with a definitive chronology of Holmes’ career using his Boswell’s unreliable date book. Sometimes, Watson obfuscates the date on purpose. At others, he’s…well, he’s just flat-out wrong. One imagines that the various Mrs. Watsons were often disappointed to find their birthdays or anniversaries go unmarked.

One hopes he made it up to them.

One hopes he made it up to them.

Now that we’re approaching the New Year, perhaps you’d like a new calendar for your own special occasions and appointments. This time, I’m happy to offer you a choice:

The 2015 BBC Sherlock Calendar, shown here….


Or, if you prefer something more traditional, the 2015 Sherlock Holmes calendar from The Strand Magazine, here:

Most of the months have arrangements of Paget illustrations.

Most of the months have arrangements of Paget illustrations.

To be included in the drawing, send in the correct answer to the following question, along with your choice of calendar:

Dr. Watson is known for his confusing chronologies. However, there is one date he gives in the Canon which we know must be incorrect. What is it, where is it found, and why is it wrong?

Again, please send your answer via FB PM, Twitter DM, or blog comment. You can find the complete Giveaway rules here:


Day 1 Winner!

Congratulations to Resa Haile, our first winner of the season! She knew that Sherlock Holmes once decorated the wall of 221B with a patriotic “VR”in bullet-holes…because he was bored. Other entrants mentioned Watson’s framed portrait of General Gordon, evidence of his patriotism and continued loyalty to his brethren-in-arms, and Holmes’ scientific charts, described in “The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone,” possibly suggesting that he didn’t rely on his “brain attic” for everything!

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3rd Annual 12th Night Giveaway: Day 1

221B as seen during the Festival of Britain in 1951. That is indeed Sidney Paget's "basket chair."

221B as seen during the Festival of Britain in 1951. That is indeed Sidney Paget’s “basket chair.”

A great deal of Sherlockian time and money has been spent on 221B–either trying to locate it (in London), or to replicate it (typically in one’s basement). Although we cannot now know for sure where Holmes and Watson spent their London years, the Canon does give us a fair picture of what it looked like. When the two friends-to-be first moved in, Watson wrote, their new flat was “large” and “airy,” “cheerfully furnished with, and illuminated by two broad windows.” By the time Holmes feels comfortable enough with the doctor to haul out his own tin box (and the memories that go with it) however, their rooms had become rather more…lived in:

[Sherlock Holmes] was…one of the most untidy men that ever drove a fellow-lodger to distraction. Not that I am in the least conventional in that respect myself. The rough-and-tumble work in Afghistan, coming on the top of a natural Bohemianism of disposition, has made me rather more lax than befits a medical man. But with me there is a limit, and when I find a man who keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed into the very centre of his wooden mantelpiece, then I begin to give myself virtuous airs. (MUSG)

Over time, then, they put their own stamp on the place, and that once-anonymous sitting room with two bedrooms became a reflection of the “two men of note” who called it home…which bring us to tonight’s question:

One of the easiest ways to make your house your home is to put something on the walls. What might one find on the walls of 221B–and who put it there? (Extra admiration if you tell us what it reveals about that particular flatmate!)

And your prize for doing so? Why, something to make your own décor a little more Holmes-y. We cannot afford to redecorate your basement, but we can send you this lovely pillow….

(It's a pillow)

Suitable for settee, bedroom, or throwing at recalcitrant clients!

Just send us  your answer, via FB PM, Twitter DM, or blog comments to be included in the drawing on 12/25 (on which date the winner will be announced. Please do not just put your answer in the FB comments, and for other rules, see the blogpost for 20 December. Happy reading!

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