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I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere

Episode 144: The Chronologies of Sherlock Holmes

Burt: Support for this episode of I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere is


made possible by the Wessex Press, the premier publisher of
books about Sherlock Holmes and his world. Find them online
at wessexpress.com and the Baker Street Journal, the leading
publication and of Sherlockian scholarship since 1946.
Subscribe today at bakerstreetjournal.com.

Scott: I Hear Of Sherlock Everywhere, episode 144, The Chronologies


of Sherlock Holmes.

Speaker 1: I hear of Sherlock everywhere since you became his chronicler.

Speaker 2: In a world where it's always 1895, comes I Hear Of Sherlock


Everywhere, a podcast for devotees and Mr. Sherlock Holmes,
the world's first unofficial consulting detective.

Speaker 1: I've heard of you before. You're Holmes the meddler, Holmes
the busybody, Holmes the Scotland Yard jack in office.

Speaker 2: The game's afoot as we discuss goings on in the world of


Sherlock Holmes Enthusiasts, the Baker Street Irregulars, and
popular culture related to the great detective.

Speaker 3: As we go to press, sensational developments have been


reported.
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Speaker 2: Join your hosts, Scott Monty and Burt Wolder as they talk
about what's new in the world of Sherlock Holmes.

Speaker 5: You couldn't have come at a better time.

Scott: Hey, hey, hey. Welcome once again to I Hear of Sherlock


Everywhere, the first podcast of Sherlock Holmes devotees
where it's always 1895. I'm Scott Monty.

Burt: I'm Burt Wolder.

Scott: Are you chronologically challenged, Burt?

Burt: No, not at all. I just wound my chronograph, and it's 9:22 and
37, 38, 30, 42, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47 seconds, 48. Well, hurry
up.

Scott: Wow. Is that on the Julian chronograph or the Gregorian


chronograph?

Burt: It was on the Julian calendar until Julian retired, and then it
was on the Stixian calendar.

Scott: Stygian.

Burt: Stygian calendar, and now it's on the Weylan calendar.

Scott: Nice. Well, that is a hint as to what we're up to here. We have


a very special guest who's going to talk to us about the
chronologies that you may have encountered, or maybe not.
Maybe this is a new thing we're introducing you to, but if you
have had any experience reading an annotated version of the
canon, whether it's the Les Klinger version or the Baring-Gould,
you may have come across people trying to put these stories in
order. It's been a conundrum since time in memorial, one may
say. Our guest today is going to help explore that with us.

Burt: Friend's it's absolutely essential. Just think how tenuous your
grass on American and world history would be if you were

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uncertain about which came first, the war of American
independence or the war of 1812. So you don't look ahead to
our later contest, I think I can tell you that the war for
American independence came before the war of 1812, but
don't thank me. That's just one of the great thinking tips you'll
receive in this episode. You know, Scott, when it comes to
matters of chronology, it's all about putting one thing in front
of another.

Scott: That makes sense, but which one thing is that? Is it the chicken
or is it the chicken scratch?

Burt: I think in our case, it's the chicken scratch.

Scott: I think Sherlock Holmes actually had a quote about that.


Maybe it was in the Granada series. I recall Jeremy Brett as
Sherlock Holmes handing a note from Mycroft over to Dr.
Watson. I think it was in the Bruce Partington plans.

Sherlock Holmes: That's from my brother, Mycroft. He writes like a drunken


crab. You'd better read it. Doctor, you're more used to
hieroglyphics than normal human beings.

Scott: There you have it. From chicken scratch and calendars to
chronologies, we've got it all here on I Hear of Sherlock
Everywhere.

Burt: It's a shame you just missed that quotation where Watson
replied, "But all we have here Holmes is the word lobster,
lobster, lobster. What does this mean?"

Scott: It means that there are no longer oysters overrunning the


world. You know what is at risk of overrunning the Sherlockian
world, our friends at Wessex Press.

Burt: Here in the ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, we are


looking forward to Whitsuntide. When we remember King
Arthur's glorious coronation and the strange adventures that
came before him at the high feast of Pentecost, but you have

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strange adventures aplenty thanks to your copy of The
Illustrated Speckled Band, the original 1910 stage production
in script and photographs by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, edited by
Leslie S. Klinger. For the first time ever, Conan Doyle's own
script is published with long lost photographs from the original
production, scene by scene. Ours is that wine, that water clear
and cool, that very vineyard and the peaceful pool. Make
merry in the month of May with the pleasure only a volume
from the Wessex Press can provide. Choose yours today.

Burt: How excellent. It's a shame I didn't have my regular calendar


set of Whitsuntide.

Scott: You mean the iPhone doesn't come with a default Whitsuntide
reminder?

Burt: No. Last time I downloaded one, all it did was tell me the tides
outside of Whitson, Massachusetts. It was completely useless.

Scott: Good lord. That's when you need a good tide waiter.

We are lucky enough to be joined this time around by none


other than Vincent W. Wright, or V Dub, as I like to call him for
short. Vincent is the proprietor of a blog called Historical
Sherlock. We're going to talk to him about that in just a
moment. He is a regular speaker on the Sherlockian
conference circuit, and he has a very deep interest, some
might call it unhealthy, in Sherlockian chronologies. Vincent,
welcome to the show.

Vincent: Scott, how are you, sir?

Scott: I am well. Let's just get this out of the way. Should I call you
Vincent or Vince?

Vincent: I like Vincent.

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Scott: Well, there we shall have it. We are familiar with one or two
Vincents in the Sherlockian world.

Vincent: Yes, we are. It's a great name to have, especially in this hobby.

Scott: That's great. Where do you hail from?

Vincent: Right now, I'm sitting in my office in Indianapolis.

Scott: Indianapolis. That's another ground zero of Sherlockian


activity.

Vincent: Oh, absolutely.

Scott: Are you involved at all in regular local Sherlockian activities in


Indianapolis?

Vincent: I have belonged to the Illustrious Clients of Indianapolis for 21


years.

Scott: Holy cow, 21 years.

Vincent: Yes, sir.

Scott: You must be a keeper.

Vincent: They haven't kicked me out yet, so I suppose so.

Scott: That's wonderful. Let's go back in history, and why don't you
share with us how you first got to know Sherlock Holmes?

Vincent: Absolutely. I love telling this story. Like most people, I grew up
knowing who Sherlock Holmes was, but I had the occasional
paperback on my shelves when I was a kid. I had lots of books
when I was a kid, like I do now. When I was in high school, I
met a classmate who had just come in from another city, state,
from somewhere. His father was an English major at one of the
local colleges, and had a massive library. Two of the books that
he had on his shelf caught my eye one day. They were the
annotated Sherlock Holmes. I borrowed them from Chris, that
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was my friend's name. I borrowed them from him, and I still
have them. This was, I guess we were 13 or 14, maybe 15 years
old. I was just so taken by them.

After we graduated high school, Chris disappeared. I have


never known where he went or what became of him, but I still
have those two copies. I don't dig them out very often because
I have my working copies, but it was shortly after that that I
discovered Jeremy Brett on PBS one night completely by
accident. I was hooked, and I realized the two things kind of
went together. In 1996, I got transferred to Indianapolis with
Montgomery Ward, of all companies. One day while perusing
the Encyclopedia of Sherlockiana, the Bunson version, I saw in
the back that there was a local Sherlock Holmes society. I
thought that would be something interesting to do. I'm new
here in town, I don't know anybody except the people I work
with and for, so maybe this will be a chance for me to get out
and do something. I contacted them, the rest is history.

Scott: That's wonderful. Where had you moved from when you
arrived in Indianapolis?

Vincent: Southern Illinois, a little bitty town in the middle of nowhere.

Scott: I suppose this is the perfect time to say, "Chris, if you're


listening, Vincent still has your father's books." If you'd like to
claim them, his address ... No, we won't go into that. That's a
wonderful keepsake. Obviously, it's a functional copy, it's
something you can still enjoy, but it's really a trophy of sorts, a
memento from those very earliest days. I don't know that we
all have something like that.

Vincent: That's a good way of looking at it. I've always kept them. Again,
when I've found other copies, I've bought those because I
knew I wanted to make notes myself, and highlights, and
circles, and arrows in the back of each one and all these kind of
things. I've made sure that his copies were packaged away nice
and neat, and they still are right inside my closet here off of my

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office. In the event that I ever find him again, he can have his
copies back.

Scott: We wish you lots of luck in that.

Vincent: Thank you very much.

Scott: The annotated then, this was the Baring-Gould annotated?

Vincent: That's correct.

Scott: Was that your first exposure to someone trying to


chronologize the stories to put them in chronological order?

Vincent: That was my very first exposure to it. My second exposure to it


was a couple years later at Dayton. I found a copy of I Know
The Date Very Well by John Hall. I realized all of a sudden that
in the annotations themselves, specifically the ones about the
chronology, other names are mentioned, but of course they're
just names on a page. I didn't think much of it until I actually
had another book in my hands. Suddenly, I realized this is
deeper than I thought it was, and I made it a point to try and
collect as many of these as I could. At the time, I had no idea
there were so many of them. When the Sherlock Holmes
Reference Library came out, in the back are listed 12 or 13
different ones, and I was on a mission.

Scott: There you go. Of course, the Sherlock Holmes Reference


Library is a more deeply annotated version of the canon by
Leslie Klinger. Of course, Les Klinger and Andy Peck together,
did they do their own chronology or was theirs more of a
summary of chronologies?

Vincent: More of a summary, yes.

Scott: That was The Date Being-? How many chronologies did they
assess in that work?

Vincent: A dozen or so, I believe.

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Scott: Okay. For those not familiar, I think the most famous of all the
chronologies certainly is the Baring-Gould. It's probably so
famous because he actually build the annotated around it. He
didn't just go through and annotate the canon, he annotated it
and chronologized it at the same time. It's kind of this magnum
opus, literally. I think there are other chronologists that kind of
pop out to casual Sherlockians, shall we say. What are some of
the more famous chronologies that you can kind of tick off, a
handful?

Vincent: A handful of them? First off, people that I've talked to that are
more computer literate, more computer savvy, they talk about
Brad Keefauver's Sherlock Peoria that he has online. Some of
the more deeply rooted folks, there's Earnest Zeisler. Gavin
Brend, his book is quite popular. Again, the John Hall book, the
June Thompson book. There are some others that are maybe
not quite so ... I didn't list all of the more famous ones, but
there are some others that are not quite as well known. Ms.
Holmes of Baker Street by Alan Bradley and ... Drawing a
complete blank here. Oh, Sarjeant. Sorry, I'm stumbling all over
myself here.

Scott: That's alright.

Vincent: Bradley and Sarjeant.

Scott: Okay.

Vincent: I guess there's probably about half a dozen that your average
Sherlockian would know off the top of their head.

Scott: That's impressive. Did Jay Finley Christ ever try his hand at a
chronology?

Vincent: Jay Finley Christ did in fact try his hand at one, and it's actually
one of my favorites.

Scott: That's what I was gonna ask you. Do you have a favorite among
all of these, and why?

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Vincent: I do. I still like the annotated, but not necessarily because of
the dates that he comes up with. It has a comfortable feeling
to me. It's just never off of my desk, ever. I love them.
However, I have chronologies I like and chronologies that I
dislike. For instance, I dislike Ernest Zeisler's chronology
whereas Brad Keefauver calls him the King of Chronology. I like
Christ's chronology, I like Brend's chronologies. They are very
well thought out, they're not as drawn on as some others that
make you want to skip entire sections. They're well-detailed,
they're thought out nicely. They're monumental efforts, and I
applaud them.

Scott: Do you know approximately how many years each of them put
into that kind of work.

Vincent: Oh goodness, that's an excellent question. I don't, actually. I


have a couple other things. I have 11 different databases for
chronology in my system here, different things that I'm
working on. I have not considered that one, actually. That's a
fascinating question. I'll have to look into that.

Scott: Huh, okay. You mentioned Zeisler as being your least favorite
while it's Brad's most favorite. What turns you off about
Zeisler?

Vincent: Zeisler limits himself a little bit too much and has a tendency to
come up with some odd dates because of the limitations that
he puts on himself right upfront. As such, whenever he runs
into a corner, whenever he backs himself into a corner, he has
to figure out some strangely creative way to get out of it. In
doing so, calls into question several stories because he really
has no way out because of what he's done to himself. He
doesn't allow himself any freedom at all to run wild with his
findings.

Scott: You think the others have?

Vincent: I think a good portion of them have. Some of the chronologies


I have, there actually are no explanations. These are just folks
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that have put together the dates that they feel comfortable
with, but without explanation or without annotation. I can't
speak for all of them, but for the major ones that we know, I
feel like some of them try a lot harder than others do. The
John Hall book is a very thin volume. You pick up a chronology
book and it's thin, you've got a problem.

Scott: I like that. To me, when I first read The Annotated, I think
around the same time I discovered Sherlock Holmes of Baker
Street, which of course was Baring-Gould's biography of
Sherlock Holmes, which pre-dated The Annotated. It followed
on the same chronology, but that was published first. I found
his use of lunar cycles, and weather reports, and just cross-
referencing so many different elements that he could verify
based on the accessible records of the time, I love the
reasoning. I loved how he told, at least in The Annotated, how
he told the story of how he did it.

"I had to eliminate this, and I looked at that." It was very


seldom, as you know, a slam dunk home run, yes this is
certain. Those instances are few and far between in the canon.
At some point, you just have to throw your hands up and go,
"Well, this is the best I can do, and here's what I think, and
here's the reasoning." You're looking through all of these
chronologies. When did you say, "I want to tackle my own"?

Vincent: I started tackling my own some years ago, maybe six or seven
years ago. I actually have a long-running commitment to my
home society, The Illustrious Clients of Indianapolis. The
newsletter, I put an article in there every time we publish. For
the longest time, it was about the chronologies and the stories.
In time, it occurred to me that there was something I was
missing, something I wasn't doing properly. It was after
reading a number of these chronologies that I figured this out.
I wasn't really comparing the dates that I was coming up with
to each other. I began to think more deeply about how to do
this, and the more I've thought about it, the more I've realized

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that there simply isn't a way to make an absolutely correct
chronology. It just doesn't exist.

There is something in the canon, without me telling you what


it is because it's something that I'm working on, that I believe
requires a major rethink, something I'm trying to work on. If I
can get that to work, then I think a chronology is a lot more
possible, but we have just far too many roadblocks and dead
ends and staircases to nowhere. Therefore, a chronology
simply isn't possible. I had to give up on my own attempt until I
did a lot more research. I'm telling you, that research may take
me another 10 years.

Scott: Whoa. No. Vincent, the world can't wait 10 more years,
especially with a teaser like that. I mean, come on man.

Vincent: There are plenty of chronologies to look at and for people to


examine themselves, which I know is not probably going to
happen. We're probably not going to convert anybody here. I
understand that, but the intricacies of the canon, and this is
what you were talking about before with Baring-Gould, yes,
using the lunar cycles and the weather reports and the fog, all
of those things are fantastic, but in doing so and basing your
chronology on that very heavily, you're ignoring an awful lot.

To me, if you want to date a story, you have to do many things,


which includes you have to compare it to the other stories, you
have to dissect every single word of that story. You have to be
careful of when it was published versus when it was written
because Watson may have thrown a term or a phrase or a
word in there that didn't exist at the time the story actually
happened. These are the kinds of things that you have to keep
in mind. This requires every single story to be broken down to
its absolute bare bones, and there isn't a chronology out there
that does that.

In order for this to happen on top of a regular life with


grandchildren, and chihuahuas, and the whole thing, and a job,

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it's gonna take some time. I'm working on it, but it is going to
take me some time. So far, nobody has jumped up and offered
to help me. I'm kind of a one man band here. There's so much
to do with this project in order to say, "Yes, this is the absolute
date of this story," or "No, there simply isn't a possible way to
date this one absolutely."

Scott: I think you hit on it. We may need to crowdsource this with
you. You mentioned there's this sticking point. Can you give us
any hints as to what you're trying to wrap your head around or
what you're trying to rationalize? We could help.

Vincent: How can I put this without giving anything away? There's only
two people on the entire planet besides my wife, and believe
me she could care less about this, there's only two people on
the planet that know what this thing is besides myself. When I
told both of them, they both got this look on their face like, I
haven't thought of that. I don't know how much I can give you.
There is a major problem with Watson's marriages that I
believe requires a complete rethink, a complete re-evaluation.
Once that is settled, then I believe that a as-close-to-possible
chronology can be written for the canon.

Scott: Watson's marriages or marriage, and he's been married one,


two, or three times depending on who you believe or who you
read, they've always been one of the stumbling blocks here. I
absolutely agree.

Vincent: I think there's a way around it. I really do, but that's what I'm
working on. That's what I'm always working on. If I have five
minutes, 10 minutes, and hour, whatever, and I've put aside
everything else, that's the one I'm working on.

Scott: Well, your secret is safe with us because nobody listens to this
show.

Vincent: I'm so relieved.

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Scott: Yeah. The Baker Street Journal has been doing its thing for 72
years, and some of the most heralded names in Sherlockian
scholarship have appeared in print between those yellow
covers, people like William Baring-Gould, whose famous
Annotated Sherlock Holmes and his earlier Sherlock Holmes of
Baker Street made the chronology of the stories something of
a spectator sport. Names like Bell, Christ, Brend, and Zeisler, all
of whom are heralded as scholars and chronologists appear
throughout the Baker Street Journal's history. In fact, the very
first issue of the journal contained The Watson Problem by S.
C. Roberts, who called for a comprehensive chronology when
he wrote.

Trifles such as these may be of interest to the amateur of


apocrypha, but it is to be hoped that serious students would
rather devote their energies to the elucidation of the major
problems of Watsonian chronology, the complexity of which
we have sought but to adumbrate. You can see all of these for
yourself in the eBSJ, an electronic record of the Baker Street
Journal from 1946 to 2010. It comes on a single DVD that's
easily downloaded to your computer and is entirely
searchable. It's just the thing you need to save yourself some
time. Speaking of which, it's time that you got over to
bakerstreetjournal.com and ordered your copy today.

Let's say you were to bring on an irregular division of eyes,


ears, and mouths, or feet I guess, that could go everywhere,
overhear everything, see everything, help you out on this. How
would you get someone started in this? What would you tell
them to do if they were trying to sink their teeth into the
things that you do for the chronology?

Vincent: That's an excellent question. I think the first thing I would do,
especially with what it is that I'm working on, is I would tell
them right upfront what I think the problem is, and for them to
tackle it, wring it and see what comes out for them. One
person that knows about it is not interested in chronology at
all, whereas the other person is very interested and may

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actually be working on it as we speak. I have a few people in
mind that I would dearly love their help, it's just a matter of
me getting to the point where I can comfortably contact them
and say, "This is what I have in mind. Are you interested?"
What I'm actually doing may turn out to be Sherlockian heresy.
I have to be very careful with who I pick.

Scott: Now we've got a show. Okay. Not that we are looking to
condone this kind of crime, but this would be wonderful if folks
could reach out and get in touch with you and see how they
might help. It sounds like you're really onto something here.

Vincent: It's got more and more speed lately. I've been toying with the
idea of a society for chronologists or chronology, and it just
started off as kind of a thought. I put a blog out about it saying
this is something I'm thinking about. Within weeks, I had
gotten two dozen responses from people saying, "I think this
would be fascinating." There's more interest out there than I
was aware of. Outside of those of us who consider ourselves
chronologists, there are actually people out there who are on
the fringes who admit in secret and in dark rooms that they
actually do like chronology and this is something they might be
interested in doing.

I've got the fodder, I've got the people, I've got the group. It's
just a matter of me being ready to present it to the small
public at large about this and see what everybody else thinks.
If I get rotten tomatoes and things like that thrown at me, then
I know I'm on the right track.

Scott: There you go. It's the ability to provoke.

Vincent: Right.

Scott: You mentioned a lot of internal reference work, comparing


stories to each other, really parsing out each individual story
down to each punctuation mark and each word, looking at the
dates, when they were published versus when they were

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written. Do you use any external sources for your chronology
researches?

Vincent: Oh my goodness, Scott. Let me tell you. I probably research


more than I do anything else except breathe and love my
grandchildren. Research is my life. I do it in the middle of the
night, I do it in the middle of the morning, I do it on the
weekends. Whenever I can, I always have my phone with me, I
always have a reference book with me of some type, maybe
even a copy of the canon with me. Sometimes I just flip
through and find things and just research the snot out of it.
Other times, I specifically am looking for something, but I am
always on Google Books, Internet Archive.

I have probably 50 or 60 different blogs that I follow that are


Victorian-minded. I subscribe to the London Times Archives.
I'm always looking, I say always ... I say several times a week
I'm looking at British newspaper archives. I am constantly
looking pretty much everywhere. I have an entire section of
my library that is nothing but books for research. When I find
nothing online, I go to them. If I find nothing there, I try
something else.

Scott: You're really living in the perfect age for doing what you're
doing because you can actually access so much information
just on your keyboard through the computer, through the
internet.

Vincent: That's very true. However, that's not necessarily a good thing.
The amount of information that you have can actually cause
you to have problems. One of my other small hobbies is the
Shakespeare authorship question. I have no dog in this fight. I
don't care which way it goes. I'm just fascinated with the
detective work that goes into it. However, anytime any new
piece is found that might help it, it seems to cause more
question than it causes answers. It's exactly the same with the
research that I do.

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If I find something that says something one way, I'm gonna find
10 other pages that say that it's actually incorrect, or there's a
problem with the research, or a problem with the provenance
or something. Having the world of knowledge at your
fingertips is a wonderful thing, but it's what causes me to have
to work on something for 10 years because there's so much
information, and not all of it coalesces very well.

Scott: I guess that would lead to the obvious question. How do you
know when you've done enough research?

Vincent: Research never stops, it doesn't with me. I'm the kind of guy
that's still working on a paper the day of. I'm the guy that's in
the back of the room who's going on in 10 minutes and I'm still
making notes on the sides of my paper. You don't know when
you've done enough research because you know and I know,
and I realize this, that if I were to put out a chronology and I
was to say I have done every drop of research I possibly can,
this is as definitive as it gets, I know that there's a possibility
that I could go home that night, open my computer, and find
an email from somebody saying, "By the way, it was just
discovered that this particular station didn't exist on that
date," or this particular type of shoe didn't exist that that time,
or something like that, which would change everything. You're
never done researching.

Scott: That's why there are errata slips and second editions, right?

Vincent: I agree. I think if I were to actually put out a book, I would have
to title it something like, This Is Just The First Try or something
like that because I know that there would be more and more
and more coming out later. There's always something new
being found, whether by me or by somebody else.

Scott: I was initially going to ask you if you ever foresee the end of
chronologies. We've got this dozen or so that exist and have
existed for some decades. If you get to the point where you
think you've wrapped everything up, you've solved the major

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sticking point that you mentioned before, do you think there's
still room for someone else to come along and tear it all down
and start on their own chronology?

Vincent: Let me take you back just a couple of seconds in what you said
there about the 12 chronologies that everybody knows about. I
actually have 23 chronologies in my collection.

Scott: Okay.

Vincent: I know of two that are being written as we speak, and one
other person who is dead set on having one before they die.
No, I don't think it's ever going to end, and the reason that I
don't think it's going to end is because if you're going to do any
kind of scholarly canonical work, I'm talking about absolutely in
the pages of the canon and nowhere else outside of it, then
you have got to look at every detail possible in order to date
these stories. In doing so, of course, you come up with all
these other little tangents that you can do great papers on or
little side columns and say, "Did you know this or have you
ever heard of this," in different publications around the
country. However, doing an actual chronology requires such a
deep level of research.

Vincent: Anybody who is a researcher like I am knows how wonderful it


is to find and discover that no, I don't think there's ever going
to be an end to it because there's more work to be done. None
of the chronologies that exist are the definitive one because
everybody knows that there's something that's wrong with it.
There's a detail in there that they disagree with. No, I don't
believe it's ever going to end. Will we have a lot more classics
published in the future? I doubt it. I think any chronology book
that's going to come out from this point on is just going to be
seen as a curiosity kind of like the other are. There's no more
classics waiting to be had, but I still think there's some fine
research to be done, and there's some die hard researchers
out there doing it. I don't see chronology ending anytime soon.

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Scott: Given that and given our call to arms, we mentioned before
folks can pitch in and help you here. I almost wonder if a
potential chronology of the future, and I'm not saying it's yours
by any stretch of the imagination, but if there are these
differing points of view and there are enough people involved,
I wonder if something like a Wikipedia for the canonical
chronologies would make sense, where people can come
together as an editorial board, make decisions, perhaps battle
it out with each other.

I recently read an article just this week in the Wall Street


Journal that there's a board on Wikipedia that settles disputes
almost like the Supreme Court. A Sherlockian in our midst is
actually a member of that Wikipedia board settling those
disputes.

Vincent: That's fantastic.

Scott: We've got some heavy hitters in that regard. Do you think that
maybe that group participation would lend itself to something
more definitive or something that might actually become a
classic?

Vincent: That's distinctly possible and is something that, again, going


back to the idea of a society for chronologists and possibly a
publication, maybe the occasional gathering, even though the
joke's already been made that we'd never be able to agree on
a date. Yes, I think it's possible that a meeting of the minds, as
it were ... There are some diehard chronologists out there who
are just not making themselves well known. They're doing this
in their homes and one day they're going to appear with this
stack of papers in their hands with a light shining behind it
screaming, "I got it." People like me, we're all gonna
immediately latch onto it and devour it. They're out there, and
I have had several people approach me and say, "If you ever
want to do a book about this, I'd be interested in helping out."
Yes, I do believe that it's possible for there to be a brain trust
for this kind of thing.

Page 18 of 28
However, along those same lines, an idea I had numerous
years ago was if I were going to put out a book about
chronology, perhaps it could be like a double column kind of
thing. On one side is the sticking points, and on the other side
are all of the possible findings and logic points that you can
come up with for that. You say, "If this date works, that means
you have to ignore this. If you don't ignore this, then how is
this in there," and so on and so forth. Once all these are
corrected, how does it fit into the Watson's marriage problem,
and so on and so forth? These kind of ideas have been floating
in my head for some time.

Scott: That last one's almost like a choose your own adventure.

Vincent: That's exactly right. That's exactly what I called it when I put it
on my blog. That's exactly what it was. I love those books. I
remember reading every one of those I could get my hands on
when I was a kid. Yes, it's the exact same thing that you're
talking about. If you take a story and you say, "This is the
proposed date, here are the problems with that proposed
date," and each one of those has its own little offshoot from it
saying, "If you accept this, then that means you have to ignore
this," and so on and so forth. Yeah, that's exactly what it's like.

Scott: Yeah. Really what that is is just a logic tree. You could build
that online as easily as you could manufacture a book out of it.

Vincent: Precisely. That was an idea that was ... Something similar to
that was given to me by somebody not long ago, but it would
take a bigger brain than mine for something like that online. I
do okay online, but I'm not a genius. I do have people out
there who would be willing to do that for me as well.

Scott: Yeah, I'll bet. You get around, and you speak to Sherlockian
conferences quite a bit. I know we were on the program
together, I believe, at the Scintillation of Scions.

Vincent: That's correct.

Page 19 of 28
Scott: You've been back there a number of times.

Vincent: I have.

Scott: What are some other places where you found yourself behind
the podium?

Vincent: I can actually name them all. I have spoken in Minnesota,


Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana of course, and Maryland. Those are
the places I've been. I've been lucky enough to speak
somewhere every year since 2010, which was the first time I
ever stepped out into the speaking game and then was on the
circuit. That was at Scintillation III. I have been to every one
since then, and I've been lucky enough to speak more times
than anybody else. It's because I'm consistently asked to come
back because my subject matter is always interesting. I guess I
deliver a good paper. I don't know, I just hope that I do. I've
been lucky to deliver everywhere, and it seems like every time
I've put together a paper, within months I'm delivering it
somewhere else because somebody's heard about it. I must do
a good job with them, but for me it's just a labor of love.

Scott: You are clearly scintillating.

Vincent: Yes, I love that.

Scott: Do you typically just talk about the chronology or is your


paper-giving more varietal than that?

Vincent: It's very varietal. I always try and tie chronology back into it
somehow, but no. I gave a paper a couple years ago in Dayton,
and the title of it was A Word About Hanging. It was all about
hangmen who were in service at the time, during the Victorian
era. It didn't really talk about Holmes that much. I did another
one two years ago, I believe, where I talked about the perils of
dying in Victorian London because of the things that could
happen to your body after you were dead. Again, not
necessarily chronological in any way, but at the very end I did

Page 20 of 28
tie in Holmes just barely. No, I don't specifically just talk about
chronology.

In Minnesota three years ago, two years ago, three years ago, I
gave a paper about chronology specifically. It was the longest
paper I've ever given, it was up to 45 minutes, I loved every
minute of it. I've given that paper three times since then. It's
been so popular. I've even helped people with other papers
that they're writing because they saw this and they associate
me with the chronology. I've had some success with it as far as
people contacting me, which is a constant thing, let me tell
you, but no, my papers are not always about chronology, but
they are always about Victorian London in some form.

Scott: Got it. Do you typically find inspiration as you're doing your
chronology work or does it come to you in other ways?

Vincent: No, no. It's rare that I get an idea for a paper just out of the
blue. It does happen on occasion. In fact, I may be speaking in
the Midwest here next year at a large gathering. It hasn't been
confirmed yet, but I have a great idea for a paper that just
came to me one day while I was at work. Blip, there it was.
That happens every once in a while. Most of my papers come
from research. I recently wrote an article for our home
newsletter saying I think it would be interesting to see the
process ... I think I put this on Facebook as well. It would be
interesting to see the process of the research, how you start
off with one thing and you wind up in a thousand other places.

Scott: Yes.

Vincent: Those thousand other places are where I get a lot of my ideas
for my papers.

Scott: That's fantastic, and we are the richer for it.

Vincent: I certainly hope so.

Page 21 of 28
Scott: If folks would like to check out your work, we will have a link to
it in the show notes. Just for reference, it is
historicalsherlock.blogspot.com. It's subtitled, Examining the
Chronology of the Sherlock Holmes Canon.

Vincent: That's correct.

Scott: Where can we see you next, Vincent?

Vincent: The next absolute speaking engagement that I have, I will be at


Saturdays With Sherlock in November in Baltimore at the
Enoch Pratt. My next gathering that I will be at will be at a
Scintillation of Scions. I promised Jacqueline Morris years ago,
because she was the first one to allow me to speak at a
gathering anywhere besides my home society, that I would
always come to the Scintillation, and I always have. I will be
there every year in June when it happens, so that's where you
can always find me in the middle of June.

Scott: Excellent. Thank you for taking the time to be with us tonight.
We do appreciate it.

Vincent: I've enjoyed every minute of it.

Scott: That makes two of us.

Vincent: Fantastic.

Scott: Maybe there's a couple more in the audience, who knows?

Vincent: I certainly hope so, yeah.

[Interview End]

Scott: Well, that's probably more than you ever wanted to know
about chronologies.
Page 22 of 28
Burt: You know, it's another illustration of the fact that the cases of
Sherlock Holmes can really be a canvas for so many other
interests. It's amazing that his cast of mind digging into this,
trying to solve things. I'm very curious though. What is that
one item that will solve all the problems? It's very tempting to
think there's just one little piece of the puzzle that we need to
discover and then everything else will fall into place.

Scott: Got a bit of a hint there from Vincent. Hopefully, that will be
more forthcoming. I love the idea of people banding together
to help solve this, to help solve the chronological problems. I
don't know if there's anything to it in the future, if there's an
online study group, or as Vincent said, this notion of a
potential scion society for chronologists or people interested in
chronologies. It seems to me that group think, like Wikipedia in
this case, would help arrive at some of these conclusions a
little faster.

Burt: Yeah. I think that's right. I'm sorry that I just couldn't join that
conversation with Vincent, but I think you did a great job.

Scott: It's your fault. You should have set the Tardis a little earlier.

Burt: Yeah, my chronologist wasn't wound properly, and I had to be


somewhere else.

Scott: Let's move from chronology over to some newsy type items, if
we can do that.

Burt: Oh good.

Scott: The first item that I found, and this is absolutely fascinating
because it seems like we've been waiting forever for this news,
have you seen the Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Sherlock
Holmes movies?

Burt: Oh really? Robert Downey Jr. made movies, huh? I haven't


seen any of his pictures since Chaplin. What's he been up to?

Page 23 of 28
Scott: No. Of course, he and Jude Law took their turn on the big
screen as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in 2009 with
Sherlock Holmes and then followed it up, I think in 2012, with
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

Burt: Really? How was Downey's Watson? I would think he would've


been pretty good.

Scott: He does a remarkable Nigel Bruce. Actually, Jude Law's Watson


was quite good, stalwart. Game of Shadows was in 2011, and
folks have been speculating about whether or not there would
be a third installment with Guy Ritchie as the director, and of
course Lionel Wigram as one of the producers or co-writers.
We finally have the news from Deadline Hollywood that this
three-quel, as Hollywood calls it, will be making its turn. It will
happen just days after the opening of Avatar II. It'll be on
December 25th, 2020.

Burt: This, I presume, is just your effort to kickstart some sort of


fundraiser, some sort of request for donations, some drive for
contributions whereby all of us can kick in $5, $10, different
levels to get different things, t-shirts. If you contribute $100 or
more, special bonuses if you contribute $500, all to the effect
of preventing this from being produced.

Scott: I hadn't thought of that, but that's a good ...

Burt: I think that's pretty shabby of you, but hold on while I write
out my check.

Scott: Hey, if it means that we can keep this podcast going for
another two years and trying to get Robert Downey Jr. on as a
guest or Jude Law, I mean let's go for it.

Burt: I don't find those things necessarily connected. I think that we


could probably have a shot at getting Jude Law without a third
movie. In fact, I'd like to vote several times for doing that
without necessarily getting a third movie.

Page 24 of 28
Scott: You are probably aware of this. Jude Law was actually in the
Granada series.

Burt: No, I don't remember. Yeah, I vaguely remember that. Who did
he play? He was young.

Scott: He was very young.

Burt: He was Billy the page probably.

Scott: Almost. He was in The Disappearance of Lady Frances ... No,


no, no. Sorry, back up. He was in Shoscombe Old Place, and he
played the stand-in for Lady Beatrice.

Burt: Oh. I gotta go back and screen that.

Scott: Yeah, a very young Jude Law in drag. It kind of fits with Robert
Downey Jr. being in drag in the last one.

Burt: His best costume was of the drapes, I think. That was in the
second picture where he was made up to blend into the
background of the room. Without saying anything against his
ability as an actor, he's a good actor, he really is, I think that
was the best moment in the film. In fact, I think if they could
have done two hours of him as the drapes, it would've been a
big improvement.

Scott: Other news in the Sherlockian world, this is a bit of inside


baseball, but it's certainly still worth remarking upon. We saw
each other, you and I did, at the Speckled Band dinner in the
early part of the month. Of course, this was a historic occasion
for the band because it was the first time in the organization's
78 years that women were welcomed to its annual dinner.
After seeing the number of kidneys in the steak and kidney pie,
I'd be surprised if they came back.

Burt: It was a great meeting, and notable for two or three things.
One is the return of our keeper, Dan Posnansky, who had been
way late over the last few years, but who made a very strong

Page 25 of 28
return, and it's great to see Dan looking so well. The grace of
The Speckled Band, which in the past has referred sort of
specifically to man, has now been very cunningly edited so that
it refers generically to children, but that was very warm. The
wonderful participation of women, including our pal, Sonia
Fetherston, and Cathy Piffat, and Evy Herzog was there, and
many more, which was really ... It was a grand meeting.

Your attire, for the first time you wore the actual early 20th
century frock coat, vest, and other aspects of the wardrobe
that was worn for many years by our departed John Constable
had been the speaker of the band, who very thoughtfully
bequeathed that to you. It was great to see you there wearing
that, and to hear through your impersonation, the echoes of
John Constable's voice in that old club in Boston. It was a grand
meeting.

Scott: It really was. That suit was made for a physician in Cambridge
by a Cambridge tailor over 100 years ago. It was given by that
physician's widow to Dr. Constable. It's got a wonderful
heritage. If you're interested in learning a little bit more about
The Speckled Band, about what goes on there, about some of
the people behind it, and Dan Posnansky, the current keeper,
you can check out Episode 177, ihose.co/ihose77, all
lowercase, will get you there. We'll throw a link to that in the
show notes.

Burt: It can't be 177.

Scott: 77.

Burt: 77, right.

Scott: IHOSE 77.

Burt: Yes, there you are.

Scott: That's the one. You've been patient, you've waited. It is now
time to get to the canonical couplets. We're pleased to say

Page 26 of 28
that as of last time, we've changed the rules up a little bit.
We've decided to open up the canonical couplets competition
to anyone, not just folks who may happen to be patrons,
financial supports of the I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere. Let me
just say, that worked out splendidly. We got quite a few
entries, so many that we have had to put our entrants into a
random generator to see who's gonna pop up with the right
answer.

If you don't recall, the last canonical couplet went as follows.


"Poor lady, victim of a pious knave, was almost buried in a
double grave." Do you know the answer to that, Burt?

Burt: Oh yes, even I know that. That's “The Disappearance of the


Lady Frances Carfax.”

Scott: That is absolutely correct. I am proud to say everyone who


entered got it right. Now, we will spin the big random number
generator and see whose number comes up. Ha. What do you
know? Number five, and that leads us to Warren Nast. Warren,
thank you for being part of this. We will get in touch with you
and let you know what your prize is for winning the canonical
couplet competition. Now, for those of you wanting to
participate this time around, get yourselves ready because
here is the latest canonical couplet.

"As plots go, this is nothing less than gorgeous / Involving


sliced Napoleons and the Borgias." If you think you know which
Sherlock Holmes story that canonical couplet refers to, jot it
down in an email, send it to comment@ihearofsherlock.com,
and put "Canonical Couplets" in the subject line. If you are
among those who guess correctly, we will put you in the
random number generator just like we did this time around,
and you will be selected to win a prize from the vaults of IHOSE
Holdings.

Burt: Excellent.

Scott: Any other pearls of wisdom before we get on our way?


Page 27 of 28
Burt: No. I think, uncharacteristically, I'm devoid of anything that
resembles an insight, brightly polished or otherwise.

Scott: I still think you're quite incisive.

Burt: Those are only my teeth.

Scott: Let them gnash and wail as they will. You'll remain Burt
Wolder.

Burt: And you will remain Scott Monty.

Sherlock Holmes: I'm afraid within the pleasure of this conversation, I'm
neglecting business of importance, which awaits me
elsewhere.

Narrator: Thank you for listening. Please be sure to join us again for the
next episode of I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere, the first
podcast dedicated to Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes: Goodbye and good luck, and believe me to be, my dear fellow,
very sincerely yours, Sherlock Holmes.

Scott: Hang on, that didn't come out right.

Page 28 of 28

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