The Other Boscombe Valley Mystery

The Boscombe Valley Mystery is the fourth story in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. One aspect that has always aroused my curiosity is the Australian connection. Why did Conan Doyle have the roots of the story set in Australia? It is doubtful that it was purely because of the gold rush as there were others around the world at very much the same time. Did the occurrence of an Australian gold rush in Ballarat with its handy last two syllables determine the location or was there something else?

I have come to the conclusion that the Australian connection might well lie, at least in part, with Conan Doyle’s solicitor Alfred Charles Redshawe Williams. Williams, as I think I have shown in my book The Norwood Author, was born and raised in Australia and by 1891 was already firmly established, in England, as Conan Doyle’s solicitor.

In the early part of 1891, when the story was written, Conan Doyle would have had a good deal of business with Williams in connection with his move to South Norwood. Williams already resided in the vicinity at Upper Norwood. In my opinion it is perfectly possible that being in regular contact with the young Australian led to Conan Doyle thinking of Australia when penning the story. It is even possible that Williams was the model for young James McCarthy.

Too tenuous?


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