Thursday, July 5, 2012

Death is just half-time for Holmes.

When Sherlock Holmes dies in 1891, his friend John Watson commemorated the loss with the publication of twenty-four short stories in The Strand Magazine.  Watson had previously published two novels of Holmes while the detective was still alive, and until Sherlock Holmes came back into Watson’s life (SPOILER ALERT! Sherlock Holmes never dies the first time!) those twenty-six cases were all the reading public was given.

Later, when Holmes was about to retire from London and detective work, Watson would begin publishing again, this time writing up thirty tales for publication. (I’m not counting two written by Holmes and two by an unknown hand.)

The division between pre-death and after-death cases is so close that one has to wonder if the true numbers, if you split them by when they took place isn’t an even twenty-eight on each side. The Hound of the Baskervilles, published as “a posthumous memoir” is plainly pre-death. And I strongly suspect the undated “Charles Augustus Milverton” of being the other tale meant for earlier publication and withheld.

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