This a few days back in The Guardian . . .
When I first read that headline and the article that followed, I thought the "second wife" business was mere extrapolation . . . journalism not being what it used to be, these days. As any good Sherlockian knows, the number of Watson's marriages has been theorized and disputed by students of the Canon for years. Personally, I think he had six wives over the course of the stories. More traditionally minded folk sometimes go with just one. There was no firmly established second wife for Watson that I'd ever heard.
Looking for answers, I quickly headed for the Free Sherlock website to read the actual judicial ruling in the case of Klinger versus the Doyle Estate, Ltd. There, in the midst of a very legal summary judgment, I found the words, "Dr. Watson's second wife, first described in the 1924 short story 'The Illustrious Client.'"
Dr. Watson had a second wife, described in "Illustrious Client"?!? What the hell?
Sure, Watson writes, "I was living in my own rooms in Queen Anne Street at the time," but the only wives mentioned are the past and future victims of Baron Gruner. One has to suspect the court got "Illustrious Client" mixed up with "Blanched Soldier," where Holmes specifically said, "The good Watson had at that time deserted me for a wife, the only selfish action which I can recall in our association." But that 1926 story's statement is interesting in its words "only selfish action," which some even believe indicates it was the same wife Watson originally had, and not a second one.
Where once we just had our own interpretations of Watson's marital situation, now it seems we have a legal document in American court records that tells us he had a second wife. And what's more, she is described in "The Illustrious Client." There are only two women described in that case, Miss Violet De Merville and Miss Kitty Winter. And who did Watson spend the most time with in the course of dealing with Baron Gruner?
Well, Watson does write, "I arranged with Johnson that evening to take Miss Winter to a quiet suburb and see that she lay low until the danger was past." And six days pass. Now, one may think, upon a first, hasty reading, that Johnson was the one taking Miss Winter to the suburbs, but we know that Johnson was always the point of contact for getting in touch with Kitty Winter. And Watson, being the noble gentleman he was, would surely have felt obligated to guard a woman in danger while his friend pretended to be a death's door and had no better use for him.
And after six days in the suburbs, would one be surprised if something developed between the sympathetic doctor and the "slim, flame-like young woman?"
I'd like to thank Chief Judge Ruben Castillo, Les Klinger, and the Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd. for bringing Watson's second wife to our attention through their legal proceedings. Kitty Winter wasn't on my list of six at all. But now it seems that she and Watson are legally wed, at least in this country.
Congratulations, Dr. Watson. I always knew hoped you'd squeeze Kitty in there somewhere.