Pray be precise as to details [SPEC]

Holmes and Watson: A New Chronology of their Adventures by Vincent Delay published by the Sherlock Holmes Society of London in 2008 and translated from the French by Margaret Owens is a new chronology that goes back to my own accounts of Holmes’ cases.

As such, it is probably closer to being accurate, in many of the cases, than some of the more complex analyses of the Canon. Nevertheless I find it hard to deal objectively with the instances where he says I had got the date “manifestly wrong”! It is true that I did not always give the dates concerned, mainly because I was trying to disguise as many of the details of the case as I could to protect those who were innocently involved.

As well as deducing the dates of the cases that were fully recounted in the Canon, Vincent Delay has also tried to date the unpublished cases that I mentioned in these stories. he has even provided a “Gregorian Calendar for the Canonical centuries” that make it easy to determine what day of the week a particular date falls. I spent a whole afternoon checking my diaries against this calendar and I am astonished to find I may have made a few errors!

In one of the appendices he lists several other chronologies, few of which appear to be readily available.

Notable amongst these are:

A Sherlock Holmes Commentary by D Martin Dakin. This is only available second hand but it well-worth acquiring as a guide to the Canon. My copy is signed by the author. He would have been shocked if he had known who was asking for it to be signed when he cheekly quoted me from The Red-Headed League in writing on the flyleaf “I have even contributed to the literature on the subject” although I was referring to Holmes work on tattoo marks!

Holmes and Watson by June Thomson. This has just been reissued and is certainly worth reading as in one of the appendices her deductions about the true location of 221B Baker Street and the real reason behind the existence (or otherwise!) of a bow window are pretty close to the mark.

He does not mention William S Baring-Gould’s The Annotated Sherlock Holmes which again is only available second-hand. This, annoyingly to some people, tells the adventures in what he believes to be their chronological order.

Nor does he mention Leslie S Klinger’s The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes (Volumes I and II) covering the short stories and Volume III covering the novels. There is a chronology entitled “The Life and Times of Sherlock Holmes at the end of Volume I and Volume III.

I will return to these annotated versions of the Canon at a later date when I consider them alongside the excellent Oxford Sherlock Holmes – now available in paperback.


2 Responses

  1. Julia Hughes says:

    I enjoy reading books about the occupant of 221B Baker Street almost as much as reading the Good Doctor’s recounts of Mr. Holmes’s detection works. One thing intrigues me though – who lives at 221A? Do they never complain of the shady visitors, or the violin practice?

    • The Good Doctor says:

      My dear lady

      The “B” appended to 221 stands for the French term ‘bis’ which indicates a subsidiary address to the main address of 221 Baker Street in this case on the first floor (second if you are American). The address on the front door was ‘221’ and not ‘221B’ (or ‘221b’) as some fiction would have it. There was no ‘221A’ or ‘221C’ for that matter.

      John H Watson MD

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