I stumbled into that look this week, as I worked on my presentation for this year's "Holmes in the Heartland" weekend, coming August 10 thru 12. It's 2018 now, but when I got a long look at what I was going to speak on, I realized that this presentation really started in 1998 . . . in the same city that I'm speaking this time.
On Saturday, October 31, 1998, "The Game's Afloat III" was being held at the Westport Plaza Hotel in St. Louis. Four area Sherlockian groups came together to put it on and a really great time was had by all. My own presentation called, "Here Come the Brides," was a review of all the ladies in the Canon who could have possibly been married to Dr. Watson. In the most foolish thing I've ever done for such a talk, I handed out police whistles to many audience members to signal their disapproval for any candidate, and I remember one particular St. Louis native who took to disapproving of women before a case could even be made.
A couple of years later, in September of 2000, I took on the role of discussion leader for the Hounds of the Internet, and as we moved through the Canon at a rate of one story a week, it seemed like a good opportunity to work out my own chronology of the cases. The results of that chronological study, "A Timeline of Terra 221B" has served me well over the years, but one of its very first uses came on March 9, 2002.
The Dayton Symposium, one of Sherlockian's longest-running non-January weekends, was held on that particular Saturday, and I used my newly finished timeline to put together a more exact schedule of Watson's multiple marriages, based on his own Canonical references all lined up in an objective fashion, abandoning all attempts to keep him monogamous.
That paper, entitled "Counting Watson's Wives," took my original "Here Come the Brides" a step further, laying out who were the probable women in Watson's life, given his periods of bachelorhood versus wedded bliss. But those explorations were not nearly going to be done with that 2002 paper.
Ten years of website building (the original and late lamented Sherlock Peoria), journal publishing (the also late lamented The Holmes and Watson Report), and a few other Sherlockian sideroads occurred after that. The Sherlockian life can be a very busy one, if you choose it to be, and I chose . . . for a while.
But the next evolution/exploration of the Watson marriage problem then came with a paper that was never presented. I was scheduled to speak at the seventh "Scintillation of Scions" on June 7, 2014. And a new thesis about John H. Watson was developed and the research behind it began. But 2014 had non-Sherlockian issues to be dealt with, and neither the paper nor I made it to Maryland for that symposium. But the idea behind it wouldn't leave my end, and kept evolving.
Just this spring I presented a part of the idea to one of our best current Sherlockian symposium stars and he was quite intrigued. But it was all just in theory form then, and needed a bit more research and a bit more proof, which brings us to the current moment in time: Research is being done and proof is being found. Just what all that is about will be revealed in about six weeks with a return to the city where this whole train of thought began:
Hopefully, twenty years of work will make for an entertaining 25 minutes of that weekend. Come and have a listen, if you have the chance.