Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Calling upon Mrs. Watson again to see if she looks the same.

Just over fourteen years ago, I presented a paper at the Holmes/Doyle symposium in Dayton on the multiple wives of John H. Watson. At that time, I counted openings for six Mrs. Watsons by looking at the gaps in Watson's married life, when he was single and back at Baker Street. At that time, I based my conclusions entirely upon circumstantial evidence, and pulled my six Mrs. Watsons from whoever happened to be close at hand during Watson's bachelor period.

They were interesting choices, but were they definitive? Hardly.

Over the last fourteen years, I've had time to consider Watson's married life, and my thoughts have evolved a bit . . . heck, Sherlockiana itself has evolved a whole lot since I wrote that paper. At one point, I even came up with a sequel paper to that one for a visit to the Scintillation of Scions that didn't work out, and that one is still a work for which the world is not yet prepared (which is a very strange thing to say these days when the world seems to conjure up just about anything). But that train of thought goes down an entirely different path and not the subject at hand for this year's panel at 221B Con in Atlanta.

This time it's back to Watson's wives. And I really need to stop saying "Watson's wives" like he was the most important one. "Women willing to take John H. Watson as a husband" might be a better phrase. It wasn't like he was just plucking them out of a Canonical woman tree.

What sort of woman would want John H. Watson, doctor, writer (of various states of reknown at various times), ex-military man, adventurer, etc.?  Easy for a fan to say "Any woman!" but would Irene Adler have given him the time of day? Was she similar enough to Sherlock Holmes in mindset to find Watson an admirable enough companion for matrimony?

These are the sort of questions that need answering.

There are a veritable village of eligible candidates in the original Canon. Since we're talking legal marriage in the Victorian era, I am limiting the choices to females, but even that becomes something to consider . . . what if a "beard" was the sort of wife Watson needed? How does that affect the equation?

'Tis a bit more open-minded world that that of 2002, and one needs to open a mind up wind whenever contemplating the mystery that is John H. Watson.

High noon this Sunday, in the Jackson room at the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center, the discussion of just who would wind up married to such a man will take place in earnest at 221B Con, and I will eventually report the results back here.

Mrs. Watson. Hmmm.

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