The Treasure Hunt Test Question

Dear all,

running a test question has been a useful and instructive experience. I hope I have learned something about how to put my questions correctly in order that they may be challenging but not impossible.
The test question proved itself harder that I judged at first. I promise that feedback will be incorporated in the final revision of the questions for the Hunt.

Only one team gave the correct answer: Margie Deck, “Mopsy” and Sheila Holtgrieve, “Daisy”.
The revised text of the question:
“The two friends sat over this while talking about a man who had a turbulent relationship with a person homonymous (same first and last name) of one of them. Name the friends, the man, and what they sat over.”

Answer: The two friends: Sherlock Holmes and John H Watson; the man: Paganini; what they sat over: a bottle of claret.
“This led him to Paganini, and we sat for an hour over a bottle of claret while he told me anecdote after anecdote of that extraordinary man.” (CARD, 894)
The tricky part was the connection between Paganini and a man named John Watson. Watson was an impresario and pianist who played with Paganini on a tour. Later Paganini fell in love with Watson’s daughter, Charlotte, and asked her to marry him, but Watson prevented the marriage and a bitter feud ensued between the two former colleagues.
I honestly remembered that this was an easier information to find, but I noticed too late that it’s not mentioned on Wikipedia or the Encyclopedia Britannica online articles on Paganini and it requires some more extended internet search.
I promise that other references of this kind will not be so hard to discover. The use of a common encyclopaedia or a good reference book (such as Jack Tracy’s Encyclopaedia Sherlockiana) should be enough.
Congratulations to the winners and don’t despair, this should actually be the highest level of difficulty that you will find in the Hunt (about 10% of questions shall be of this type).

On July 10th…

(Source: A Day by Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled by William S Dorn.)

July 10, 1888: At about 2 am, Silver Blaze killed John Straker. [SILV]

Another one of my favorite stories in the Canon. I never had heard of a horse as a weapon and innocent of murder by reason of self-defense. At age 12, I did not care about racing laws, rules, and such. Now as an adult? I still don’t care about them. It’s a great story. –Chips

Illustration by WH Hyde for Harper’s Weekly (1893)

Once in the hollow he had got behind the horse, and had struck a light, but the creature, frightened at the sudden glare, and with the strange instinct of animals feeling that some mischief was intended, had lashed out, and the steel shoe had struck Straker full on the forehead. He had already, in spite of the rain, taken off his overcoat in order to do his delicate task, and so, as he fell, his knife gashed his thigh. Do I make it clear?

July 10, 1889: A letter from a foreign potentate was received in the foreign office. [SECO]

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (1904)

“I understand. Now, Mr. Trelawney Hope, I should be much obliged if you would tell me exactly the circumstances under which this document disappeared.”

“That can be done in a very few words, Mr. Holmes. The letter – for it was a letter from a foreign potentate – was received six days ago. It was of such importance that I have never left it in my safe, but I have taken it across each evening to my house in Whitehall Terrace, and kept it in my bedroom in a locked despatch-box. It was there last night. Of that I am certain. I actually opened the box while I was dressing for dinner, and saw the document inside. This morning it was gone. The despatch-box had stood beside the glass upon my dressing-table all night. I am a light sleeper, and so is my wife. We are both prepared to swear that no one could have entered the room during the night. And yet I repeat that the paper is gone.”

July 10, 1895: Holmes visited the scene of Peter Carey’s murder. [BLAC]

Cover illustration by Frederic Dorr Steele for Collier’s (1904)

“[…] Meanwhile, let me see the inside of the cabin.”

The traces of the tragedy had been removed, but the furniture of the little room still stood as it had been on the night of the crime. For two hours, with the most intense concentration, Holmes examined every object in turn, but his face showed that his quest was not a successful one. Once only he paused in his patient investigation.

I always wanted to use this illustration from Fredric Dorr Steele. I hope you enjoy it. –Chips

On July 9th…

(Source: A Day by Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled by William S Dorn.)

July 9, 1895: John Hopley Neligan attempted to break into Peter Carey’s cabin. [BLAC]

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (1904)

The outhouse was the simplest of dwellings, wooden-walled, single-roofed, one window beside the door, and one on the farther side. Stanley Hopkins drew the key from his pocket, and had stooped to the lock, when he paused with a look of attention and surprise upon his face.

“Someone has been tampering with it,” he said.

There could be no doubt of the fact. The woodwork was cut, and the scratches showed white through the paint, as if they had been that instant done. Holmes had been examining the window.

“Someone has tried to force this also. Whoever it was has failed to make his way in. He must have been a very poor burglar.”

July 9, 1895: Holmes received a wire from Inspector Hopkins. [BLAC]

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (1904)

During the first week of July my friend had been absent so often and so long from our lodgings that I knew he had something on hand. The fact that several rough-looking men called during that time and inquired for Captain Basil made me understand that Holmes was working somewhere under one of the numerous disguises and names with which he concealed his own formidable identity. He had at least five small refuges in different parts of London in which he was able to change his personality. He said nothing of his business to me, and it was not my habit to force a confidence. The first positive sign which he gave me of the direction which his investigation was taking was an extraordinary one. He had gone out before breakfast, and I had sat down to mine, when he strode into the room, his hat upon his head and a huge barbed-headed spear tucked like an umbrella under his arm.

“Good gracious, Holmes!” I cried. “You don’t mean to say that you have been walking about London with that thing?”

“I drove to the butcher’s and back.”

“The butcher’s?”

Illustration by Richard Gutschmidt (1906)

“And I return with an excellent appetite. There can be no question, my dear Watson, of the value of exercise before breakfast. But I am prepared to bet that you will not guess the form that my exercise has taken.”
“I will not attempt it.”

He chuckled as he poured out the coffee.

“If you could have looked into Allardyce’s back shop you would have seen a dead pig swung from a hook in the ceiling, and a gentleman in his shirt-sleeves furiously stabbing at it with this weapon. I was that energetic person, and I have satisfied myself that by no exertion of my strength can I transfix the pig with a single blow. Perhaps you would care to try?”

“Not for worlds. But why were you doing this?”

“Because it seemed to me to have an indirect bearing upon the mystery of Woodman’s Lee. Ah, Hopkins, I got your wire last night, and I have been expecting you. Come and join us.”

This is one of my favorite images and passages from the Canon: a man carrying a harpoon through London after repeatedly sticking a pig in the back of a butcher shop! –Chips

On July 8th…

On July 8, 1837, Mary Josephine Foley was born. She grew up with a strong role model in her mother, Catherine Pack Foley, who supported her young family after being widowed when Mary was three. Catherine taught in Ireland and in Edinburgh, where she also opened a governess placement service. [Shades of Miss Violet Hunter in COPP –Chips]

In Edinburgh, to make ends meet, Mrs Foley took in boarders. One of those boarders was Charles Altamont Doyle, then seventeen years old. In 1885, Mary Foley and Charles Doyle were married.

Arthur Conan Doyle was their third child, and first son. Charles was a talented artist, but he was unstable and developed a problem with alcohol. He was eventually committed to a mental institution.

Arthur took his role as “man of the family” quite seriously, supporting his mother and sisters. He and his mother – he called her “the Ma’am” – remained close, exchanging letters that reveal a loving relationship in which he continued to look to her for advice.

Source: A Curious Collection of Dates: Through the Year with Sherlock Holmes, by Leah Guinn (JHWS “Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (JHWS “Tressa”)

What Are Your Favourite Pastiches?

No review today… sometimes you just don’t have time to read!

Instead of a review, though, I thought I might pose a question to our wonderful Watsonian community!

What are your favourite pastiches?  Do you have ones that you just love?  Ones that you read when you first discovered Holmes and Watson that have stuck with you through the years?  Ones that strike you as particularly ‘true’ or any that ring false but you love them anyway?  Let us know!

We’d also LOVE to see some SH shelfies!  What does your Sherlock Holmes bookshelf look like?  Is it neat?  Do you embrace a minimalist aesthetic?  Is it cluttered and overflowing?  Do you despair because you need MORE shelves still to fit it all?  Post shelfies (pictures of your shelves!) either in the comments, or tweet them at us @JHWatsonSoc!  Use the hashtag #SHshelfie, if possible, so we can be sure to browse and admire accordingly!

I’ll have a new review soon (I have an ARC of Sherry Thomas’ “A Conspiracy in Belgravia” that I’m working my through; copies of Rohase Piercy’s “My Dearest Holmes” and the companion novel “A Case of Domestic Pilfering”; the middle grade book “Lock and Key” by the author of “Peter and the Starcatcher”, Ridley Pearson; and at least three other books that I need to get to!).  Thanks for your patience, and I look forward to seeing those shelfies!

Limerick Corner

We have no Canonical events for July 4-8, so Chips shares a pair of limericks describing Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson and hopes you enjoy them.

Sherlock Holmes
by William S Dorn BSI, DWNP

Sherlock Holmes was the great master sleuth,
For he always discovered the truth,
He assisted the poor
Using logic quite sure,
And he never did did one thing uncouth.

John H Watson
by William S Dorn BSI, DWNP

Watson wrote all those wonderful tales,
Beside which every other tale pales,
What more can we say,
Than up to this day,
Each attempt to improve on them fails.

On July 3rd…

(Source: A Day by Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled by William S Dorn.)

from Sherlock Holmes’ Strangest Cases, illustrated by Spain Rodriguez (2001)

July 3, 1895: At 2 a.m., Patrick Cairns killed Peter Carey with a harpoon. [BLAC]

And there in the middle of it was the man himself, his face twisted like a lost soul in torment, and his great brindled beard stuck upwards in his agony. Right through his broad breast a steel harpoon had been driven, and it had sunk deep into the wood of the wall behind him. He was pinned like a beetle on a card. Of course, he was quite dead, and had been so from the instant that he uttered that last yell of agony.

What a description!! Another one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fantastic word pictures.

The 5th Annual John H Watson Canonical Treasure Hunt

Dear fellow members,

as your Treasure Hunt Master for this year, it is my duty and pleasure to announce that the game is almost afoot. 100 Canonical questions are ready to be submitted to your (hopefully) eager brains. I hope that the challenge will be stimulating and fun.

The Hunt will open on midnight, July 31st, PST, corresponding to 9 a.m., August 1st, (CET) here in Italy. I have chosen the hour as an homage to our previous Hunt Master, Margie Deck a.k.a. “Gwen”, who lives on the Pacific coast. You can submit your answers until midnight, August 31st, PST.

As this is my first experience and, furthermore, I am not a native English speaker, I must admit that I’m a little uncertain regarding the form of the questions. I will be of course ready to help and clarify anything that might result in a misunderstanding on the meaning of certain expressions in the quiz.

To test this, I have a question to submit as an appetizer. You have one week to submit an answer.
“The two friends sat over this while talking about a man who had a turbulent relationship with an homonymous of one of them. Name the friends, the man, and what they sat over.”

This is one question that I would rate “medium hard” among those included in the Hunt.

Please submit your answers to

I hope to see many participants in this Hunt and that everybody will have fun!

Your Hunt Master

Michele, JHWS “Reggie”

On July 2nd…

(Source: A Day by Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes according to Zeisler and Christ, compiled by William S Dorn.)

July 2, 1894: John Hector MacFarlane was arrested by Lestrade. [NORW]

Illustration by Frederic Dorr Steele for Collier’s (1903)

It was a clang of the bell, followed instantly by heavy steps upon the stair. A moment later our old friend Lestrade appeared in the doorway. Over his shoulder I caught a glimpse of one or two uniformed policemen outside.

“Mr. John Hector McFarlane,” said Lestrade.

Our unfortunate client rose with a ghastly face.

“I arrest you for the wilful murder of Mr. Jonas Oldacre, of Lower Norwood.”

July 2, 1903: Professor Presbury was attacked by his own wolf hound, Roy. [CREE]

Illustration by Howard K. Elcock for The Strand Magazine (1923)

The Professor squatted down very deliberately just out of reach of the hound, and began to provoke it in every possible way. He took handfuls of pebbles from the drive and threw them in the dog’s face, prodded him with a stick which he had picked up, flicked his hands about only a few inches from the gaping mouth, and endeavoured in every way to increase the animal’s fury, which was already beyond all control. In all our adventures I do not know that I have ever seen a more strange sight than this impassive and still dignified figure crouching frog-like upon the ground and goading to a wilder exhibition of passion the maddened hound, which ramped and raged in front of him, by all manner of ingenious and calculated cruelty.

And then in a moment it happened! It was not the chain that broke, but it was the collar that slipped, for it had been made for a thick-necked Newfoundland. We heard the rattle of falling metal, and the next instant dog and man were rolling on the ground together, the one roaring in rage, the other screaming in a strange shrill falsetto of terror. It was a very narrow thing for the Professor’s life. The savage creature had him fairly by the throat, its fangs had bitten deep, and he was senseless before we could reach them and drag the two apart. It might have been a dangerous task for us, but Bennett’s voice and presence brought the great wolf-hound instantly to reason.

Chips says: I included the description of what the Professor had done to torture the wolfhound in the quote for a personal reason. I am an animal person. Cruelty to an animal to me is a death offense – not to the animal, but to the torturer. I have written, amongst other Sherlockian subjects, a Defense of the Speckled Band.  My cat was an abused rescued little one. Had I found the one who abused Sparky, the torturer would been tortured the same way. The Professor was lucky that I was not a local Justice of Peace in his district!

On July 1st…

(Source: A Day by Day Chronology of Mr. Sherlock Holmes According to Zeisler and Christ, compiled by William S Dorn)

July 1, 1894: Jonas Oldacre brought his will to John Hector McFarlane. [NORW]

Jonathan Adams as Jonas Oldacre (1985)

“I must explain first,” said McFarlane, “that I knew nothing of Mr. Jonas Oldacre. His name was familiar to me, for many years ago my parents were acquainted with him, but they drifted apart. I was very much surprised, therefore, when yesterday, about three o’clock in the afternoon, he walked into my office in the City. But I was still more astonished when he told me the object of his visit. He had in his hand several sheets of a notebook, covered with scribbled writing – here they are – and he laid them on my table.
“‘Here is my will,’ said he. ‘I want you, Mr. McFarlane, to cast it into proper legal shape. I will sit here while you do so.'”

Illustration by Sidney Paget for The Strand Magazine (1904)

July 1, 1895: Patrick Cairns first visited Peter Carrey. [BLAC]

I found out where he was through a sailor man that had met him in London, and down I went to squeeze him. The first night he was reasonable enough, and was ready to give me what would make me free of the sea for life. We were to fix it all two nights later. When I came I found him three-parts drunk and in a vile temper. We sat down and we drank and we yarned about old times, but the more he drank the less I liked the look on his face.