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We profit by his mistakes

The world of traditional Sherlockian scholarship essentially exists because of two things. Firstly the "game" whereby the stories are regarded as factual accounts and, secondly, the mistakes in those accounts.


In my opinion the most interest is to be derived from the mistakes as these can be approached from two perspectives. You can try and solve the mistakes from the viewpoint that you are dealing with factual accounts or you can view them from the perspective that they are stories. The questions don't differ all that much with each approach but the answers can and (often) do.

The mistakes, which usually arise from Arthur Conan Doyle's lack of attention, result in varied questions. A lot of these questions fall under the heading of chronology. Whether you regard the adventures as "true" accounts or simply stories is irrelevant. You can still find much delight in trying to tie up loose ends. Watson says events took place on a cold day yet official records show that the day in question enjoyed glorious sunshine - therefore the date is wrong so when did events really take place? They could be on date x but that would then clash with story y. Perhaps Holmes took on two overlapping cases? And so on.

Chronology in particular is a subject of much disagreement and many scholars have attempted to produce a chronology that could be accepted as definitive (or close to). Chronologies have been attempted by the likes of Baring-Gould, Dakin, Klinger and many others. None are universally accepted in their entirety but many individual story dates are more or less agreed by all parties.

Much of the Sherlockian world we enjoy today exists because of Conan Doyle's mistakes and the attempts of generations of Sherlockians to account for them. It is not often that we are thankful for errors but without these errors it is doubtful that the Sherlock Holmes stories would be quite so enjoyed as they are (and will continue to be).




For more information on Arthur Conan Doyle and his time at Undershaw please refer to my book, An Entirely New Country which is available through all good bookstores including Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Classic Specialities, and in all electronic formats including iTunes, Kobo, Nook and Kindle .

The Norwood Author is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Waterstones UK, Amazon UK,  Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon Kindle, iBooks for the iPad/iPhone, Kobo Books, Nook.

Close to Holmes is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USABarnes and NobleAmazon UKWaterstones UKAmazon KindleKoboNook  and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.

Eliminate the Impossible is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK, Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.

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