-- John H. Watson, M.D., "The Naval Treaty"
"A few weeks before my own marriage . . ."
-- John H. Watson, M.D., "The Noble Bachelor"
The marriage of Dr. Watson has driven many a would-be biographer to distraction, especially those who maintain he a proper Victorian heterosexual and only married once, to the one woman we know he proposed to. That belief seemed to have run as strongly through the early generations of Sherlockians as Johnlock does through today's fandom, and with such a bias, facts may have been skewed just a little bit in favor of Miss Mary Morstan.
Take the two quotes above.
The latter, we all presume to mean that "Noble Bachelor" took place a few weeks before Watson's wedding. Since that case has other evidence dating it in October of 1887 or 1888, it is usually presumed he and his bride had November nuptials.
The phrase in the first quote, however, "The July which immediately succeeded my marriage . . ." is also taken by one-wife-Watson fans to refer to that same wedding date. But roll that around in your head a bit. Why would Watson use that event to place a month full of cases with Sherlock Holmes a full eight months later?
"Succeeded my marriage" can have another meaning, one which doesn't much get considered -- that the July in question happened after Watson's marriage ended. Why else would he suddenly be out on three cases with Holmes that month? Why else would "The Second Stain," one of the three cases he references have him referring to "our rooms in Baker Street" and seeming to live with Sherlock again?
The month after a marriage's end would be a definite mile-marker to use for dating one's life events, and read with a non-monogamous mind, that seems to be what Watson's "Naval Treaty" words are saying. Instead the metaphorical "May-December marriage," Watson actually had a November-to-June marriage. At least for one of his supposed romantic entanglements.
These days, I'm still not sure if all those random marriage details weren't cover for a certain aforementioned theory that's very popular of late, but we won't get into that here. As we end our June today, however, maybe it's time to consider what might have also come to an end in a June a hundred and thirty years ago.
Watson's maybe not-so-merry Mary marriage.