Wednesday, February 15, 2023

An old theory resurfaces, along a potential revisionist history first meeting!

 I've got a pet theory that's a little wild. 

I mean, sure, like every other Sherlockian, I've got a whole menagerie of theories about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, but there is one I can't ever shake, and that I just feel in my bones.

It started on a trip to Glenwood Springs, Colorado with a friend of mine named John Holliday. John used to have a different name, but became disenchanted with it, and as a fan of John "Doc" Holliday, my friend decided to make that name his own. And Glenwood Springs is the site of the grave of that very Doc Holliday, but the locals will tell you that they're pretty sure his body isn't in that grave.

Grave robbers wanting a celebrity outlaw corpse? Okay, but there I was, standing at the grave of John H. Holliday with a friend who had changed his name and started a new life. And that old John H. Holliday seemed to have died the same years that John H. Watson first had his presence felt in London.

I mean, what else was I to think? Conan Doyle covered the tracks of a dentist whose American notoriety became too much by writing him up as a British doctor? Oh, he still teamed up with Sherlock Holmes, of course!

Holliday was born August 14, 1851. He had a grand moustache. And Sherlock Holmes had to learn about faking deadly illness from somebody. (Yes, I'm saying Holliday's coughing fits were a ruse to gain the upper hand in fights.)

But I won't belabor old points I've been making from 2003 on, since I published my treatise on Watson/Holliday in Baker Street West 1. For tonight, I have new evidence.

I was doing a little chronology work for the Sherlockian Chronology Guild, when I started considering the timeline implications of Sherlock Holmes reading from his good old index: "Venomous lizard or gila. Remarkable case, that!"  So Sherlock Holmes had a case having to do with gila monsters. Interesting.

More interesting? Some of the first published work on gila monster venom, which saw print in 1890, was done by a Dr. George Goodfellow of . . . ready for this? Tombstone, Arizona. The largest specimen of gila monster ever captured at that time was caught on a road near Tombstone on May 14, 1881, just five months ahead of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. And Goodfellow both treated the Earp brothers after that gunfight and testified on the behalf of the Earps and Doc Holliday at the subsequent trial, getting them out of murder charges.

So Sherlock Holmes dealt with a gila monster. "Remarkable case, that!" 

Was it perhaps so remarkable because it involved his actual first meeting with his Watson, in a place far, far away from St. Bart's Hospital, which a writer like Conan Doyle would naturally gravitate to in his fictionalization of John H. "Watson" and his friend Sherlock Holmes?

Like I said, it's a pet theory of mine. I just didn't ever realize that there was a Canonical lizard connection just sitting there in plain sight like that. (And one that can eat a third of its body weight in one meal, a fact I'm now kind of jealous of.) You just never know.

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