If Watson Were a Woman:
Three (Re)visions of the Holmesian Ménage
Texas Christian University
[originally published in Clues: A Journal of Detection. 22(2001): 177-88]
Much of the enduring appeal of the Sherlock Holmes adventures derives from the voice that narrates them, that of John H. Watson, M.D. Conventional readings customarily assign Watson a distinctly secondary, frequently inferior, role in the stories, preferring to focus upon Holmes’s rigorous logic, encyclopedic knowledge, and vivid eccentricity. Nonetheless, Watson’s resence cannot be denied, for he operates as foil and complement to Holmes in suggestively diverse ways. His marriages and romantic nature balance Holmes’s logic and invincible bachelorhood, his intellectual shortcomings Holmes’s brilliance and irritability, and his stolid common sense Holmes’s eccentric deviance, making the Holmes-Watson partnership one in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Watson’s contribution, however, goes beyond the obvious, for he establishes as well the larger milieu of the stories. A person of the times in every respect, he typifies the values and attitudes of the society in which Holmes operates; his qualities are those of a middle-class British Victorian male professional, and his strengths and weaknesses augment the socio-economic context that is so much a tacit part of the tales. Indeed, Holmes himself acknowledges his nature in his observation, “Watson, you are a British jury, and I never met a man who was more eminently fitted to represent one” (“Abbey Grange” 760). Thus, if Holmes is the brilliant eccentric, Watson is the British Everyman and his contributions are integral to the stories’ evocation of the times.
The Watsonian voice, with all its assumptions and elisions, is so much a part of the Holmes stories that it raises a compelling question: what if Watson were someone else, and, more particularly, what if Watson were a woman? Although the latter question was addressed with tongue in cheek by Rex Stout in 1941 (die-hard Holmesian scholars still speak of “the Stoutian Heresy”), more recent writings have taken up the topic more deliberately (Stout 311-18). Three on-going series of pastiches, written between 1990 and the present, offer a woman’s-eye-view of the Baker Street ménage, and go on to postulate a range of female counterparts to the Holmes-Watson partnership. From these works come alternative views of British society and human relations that offer intriguing speculations about the elements that influence general views of social roles and social issues.
Least extensive of the works is Sydney Hosier’s “Emma Hudson” series, comprising Elementary, Mrs. Hudson (1996), Murder, Mrs. Hudson (1997), Most Baffling, Mrs. Hudson (1998), and The Game’s Afoot, Mrs. Hudson (1998) and purporting to be edited from manuscripts in “the Hudson Collection” that relate how Mrs. Hudson, housekeeper and homeowner at Baker Street, takes over the dual role of narrator and detective. The books relate her experiences as she and a companion, Violet Warner, drawing upon skills acquired seemingly by osmosis from the Holmesian presence, undertake investigations that take them from the London docks to a rundown Brighton resort hotel and offer clients ranging from a young Winston Churchill to the widow of a wealthy industrialist.
Mrs. Hudson moves among the varied classes and settings with surprising ease, and, if she insists on speaking of herself as “simply a landlady,” she nevertheless offers oftentimes sophisticated perceptions as she goes about her investigative chores (Game’s Afoot, Mrs. Hudson 9). Holmes and Watson appear only as background characters, and the stories gain an added fillip from Violet Warner’s psychic abilities, which permit her to “see” events during her out-of-body experiences (see, e.g., Elementary, Mrs. Hudson 125-44).
More intriguing is the oldest cluster of works, Carole Nelson Douglas’s “Irene Adler” stories: Good Night, Mr. Holmes (1990), Good Morning, Irene (1990), Irene at Large (1992), and Irene’s Last Waltz (1994). Nominally edited by academic “Fiona Witherspoon” from the manuscripts of Penelope (“Nell”) Huxleigh, the books offer an account of the investigative exploits of Irene Adler as she juggles her ambition for a singing career, her marriage to Godfrey Norton, her relationship with the King of Bohemia, and her continuing rivalry with Holmes himself. Douglas builds carefully on the original works, providing a past for Irene that prepares the way for the events of “A Scandal in Bohemia,” and, through the framing voice of “Fiona Witherspoon,” offers dry comments on how Nell’s records differ from those attributed to Watson.
The Adler-Norton household is closely patterned on the Holmes-Watson association. Irene Adler is the moving spirit, perceptive, talented, and unconventional, moving in social circles that include Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, Sarah Bernhardt, Charles Lewis Tiffany, and the Rothschild family. She is balanced by her husband, barrister Godfrey Norton, who spans the gap between the unconventional and the conventional (he frequently takes part in Irene’s investigations and has a penchant for donning disguise), and by the utterly conventional and unimaginative Nell Huxleigh, parson’s daughter, sometime governess and shopgirl, and trusted associate of the ménage, whose provincialism accentuates Irene’s sophisticated worldliness. Holmes and Watson are active players in the stories, assigned speaking roles throughout, and an appealing component of the books is the professional respect that grows between Holmes and Irene Adler.
The most complex of the pastiches, the “Mary Russell” stories of Laurie R. King, picks up Holmes’s history after his retirement to a life of beekeeping on the Sussex Downs. Including The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (1994), A Monstrous Regiment of Women (1995), A Letter of Mary (1996), The Moor (1998), and O Jerusalem (1999), the books present the memoirs of Mary Russell, edited by King from a trunk of manuscripts and artifacts that has fallen into her hands. The stories extend from 1915 through 1923, offering Russell’s first-person account of her meeting, at age fifteen, with Holmes, her extra-curricular schooling in investigation and deduction as her formal education proceeds at Oxford, and her ultimate marriage to Holmes, as she becomes an equal partner and participant in their shared life.
By postulating a married Holmes, who willingly admits a woman to equality as an investigative partner, King upsets conventional wisdom concerning about both Holmes and the social context, and offers a compelling series of reflections on the changes taking place at individual and at social levels. She intensifies her reflections in the traits she assigns Russell herself. Not only is Russell the investigative equal of Holmes, but she is also a scholar in her own right (she studies Hebraic texts at Oxford), comfortably wealthy (she comes into a sizeable inheritance in the second book of the series, and at once establishes herself as an independent woman), and a Jew (whose Talmudic logic and historical consciousness balance Holmes’s secular humanism and intellectual grasp of Judeo-Christian values). Her qualities require Holmes to re-examine the principles upon which he has based his career, and the evolving relationship between middle-aged detective and independent, twentieth-century woman becomes a substantial part of the energy that drives the stories.
Taken as a whole, the several series provide material for a number of inferences about the importance to the Holmes stories of the narratorial persona and the tacitly assumed context of their events. Among these, three stand out. One, obviously, has to do with sex and sex roles. Grafting 20th-century attitudes upon 19th- and early 20th-century materials, the series present a view of Victorian/Edwardian England from the perspective of three women, each of whom must confront the place assigned her by the society. First is Emma Hudson, who enters the stories from a lower-middle-class existence. When she is widowed in her early forties, she must find a way to make a living. She accepts her socially determined “place,” believes that she cannot work at the ship chandlery in which her husband was a partner, and concludes that her only recourse is to buy property and take in lodgers (Elementary, Mrs. Hudson 8-10).
When she ventures out as a detective, she meets male resistance at every turning. Winston Churchill’s reluctance to hire her (in lieu of Holmes) causes her to think to herself, “Oh, yes . . . , the very idea of a woman believing she had brains enough to step into a position reserved exclusively for the male species would surely set the earth spinning counterclockwise in its orbit,” and she makes frequent comments on the differences, real and imagined, between men and women (Murder, Mrs. Hudson 9; Elementary, Mrs. Hudson 2-3; Most Baffling, Mrs. Hudson 141). Yet she herself is comfortable with most of the role that society assigns to her. She wears conventionally feminine clothing throughout the stories, and regularly appears in the kitchen or engaged in domestic chores.
Though Irene Adler’s theatrical world is far more bohemian and unconventional than Mrs. Hudson’s petty bourgeois one, it, too, has its share of preconceptions about sex roles and the place of women. Irene from the outset acknowledges sexual exploitation of women in the profession, refusing “to win [her] plaudits in a horizontal position,” and sees traditional marriage as a “tawdry exchange of freedom for security, and that a false one, for the husband can command all that a wife may do.” Her marriage to Godfrey Norton comes about only after she is convinced of his willingness to give her her freedom as an individual, and, as she tells Nell, “I cannot guarantee respectability even if married. Be warned! Godfrey and I intend to be very scandalous spouses, I assure you” (Good Night, Mr. Holmes 62, 370-71).
Emphasizing her impatience with traditional roles is her propensity for donning male garb. Such dress, she remarks in the original story, allows her to “take advantage of the freedom which it gives,” and Nell observes that Irene makes “a most incredibly credible man” when she is in disguise (“Scandal in Bohemia” 193; Good Night, Mr. Holmes 275). Irene’s posing as a man figures in each of the novels, and her plausibility in the role provides the opportunity for the books to speculate upon the extent to which role-definition is a matter of appearance rather than ability or inherent traits. Despite Irene’s overt femininity, trousers, long strides, some facial hair, and a casually smoked cigarette are sufficient to establish her as a man in public settings (Good Night, Mr. Holmes 112-13).
If she meets less resistance than Mrs. Hudson in taking on privileges traditionally assigned to men, Irene Adler nonetheless is well aware of the existence of male dominance. Though she acknowledges the power of convention in perpetuating sex roles — when one of the Rothschilds remarks that he is more accustomed to doing business with men, Irene crisply retorts, “So are most men . . . . That is why they own most businesses” (Irene’s Last Waltz 90) — she also suggests that women themselves play a part in the perpetuation. As she says to Nell, “You have seen in a glance what is wrong with the world and put it into one simple phrase, one motto, one undeniable truth and inalienable right: you need not regard yourself as beneath any man!” (Good Morning, Irene 212). For Irene, discrimination, albeit real, can still be thwarted if only the women will challenge its supremacy.
The Mary Russell stories, taking place twenty to thirty years after the accounts of Mrs. Hudson and Nell Huxleigh, build upon a significantly changed milieu, yet one in which male-female relations and the place assigned women are still points of contention determined largely by tradition. Russell herself is shaped by circumstance (highly intelligent, she loses her parents in an automobile crash, is reared by an aunt, and early on determines to control her own destiny), while the exigencies of World War I-era England have upset the old social order and enabled women to work in previously untouchable realms. Yet, if “people simply had no energy to spare for the proprieties,” the gap between men and women endures (Beekeeper’s Apprentice 39-40).
The debate is joined in the first volume of the series, when Russell proclaims that she considers women “to be the marginally more rational half of the race,” and continues throughout the books (Beekeeper’s Apprentice 12). The second volume takes up women’s place in politics and the church, as Russell becomes involved with the suffragette-evangelist Margery Childe and her socially active New Temple In God, while the third builds upon the repercussions likely to result within conventional religion from the discovery of a letter establishing Mary Magdalene as an early apostle of Jesus of Nazareth (Letter of Mary 18-20, 87-88). Male-female relations, for all the changes taking place in society, are at the heart of the Mary Russell stories.
Russell herself develops throughout the books as a judicious, balanced observer of the male-female world. She discovers early on that male dress offers comfort and anonymity; Holmes, in fact, mistakes her for a boy when they first meet. Yet she also discovers that women’s roles carry their opportunities as well, learning from Mrs. Hudson domestic skills, biological truths, fashion insights, and the realization that “being womanly [is] not necessarily incompatible with being a mind.” She comes to understand that Holmes’s acceptance of her means he has had to overcome inborn conventions that “that spoke the language of social customs, and particularly that portion of his makeup that saw women as some tribe of foreign and not-entirely-trustworthy exotics” (Beekeeper’s Apprentice 10, 34-35, 40). From Margery Childe she gets a new slant on why men perhaps fear women, and discovers that the women who are drawn to Childe’s ministry tend to be those with “the ineffable but unmistakable air of women who had not sat still during the war” (Monstrous Regiment of Women 36-37, 42-43).
Her views on sex roles are heightened in O Jerusalem, as she and Holmes travel in Palestine, and she must confront a society even more male-centered than that of England. When Holmes tells an Arab associate of some of their earlier activities, he is challenged outright: “‘I do not believe this story,’ Ali declared fiercely. A female who could not only . . . throw a knife with potentially deadly accuracy but perform heroic rescues on top of it was obviously more than he could bear.” Holmes, for his part, points out “that we are going to have problems if you continue to think of Russell as a woman,” and the conflict subsides (O Jerusalem 107-08). Enlightened and liberal in the very best sense of the terms, the Mary Russell books present a culture in transition, one in which old barriers are being eroded and a new, complementary relationship between the sexes is emerging. The emergence is slow, to be sure, but it is real and it is valuable.
A second issue raised by the three series is the role of social class in influencing human relationships. The three principal heroines, Mrs. Hudson, Irene Adler, and Mary Russell, conveniently represent three different segments of society. Each speaks from the perspectives inherent in her class, and each thereby works to sensitize readers to the workings and assumptions of class. Thus, for example, Mrs. Hudson, the daughter of a merchant skipper, makes a point of establishing that, as adolescent and young woman, she was privileged to have an education “well above [her] social class,” and her marriage to a tradesman is a blow to her parents’ aspirations for her. Class consciousness again comes into play as she joins forces with Violet Warner, for Violet lacks Mrs. Hudson’s education, and accordingly is a notch or two below her, with her limitations contrasting handily with Emma’s insights (Elementary, Mrs. Hudson 3, 21; Murder, Mrs. Hudson 28).
Other evidence of class structure figures in the stories as well, reinforcing the stratified nature of the society and dramatizing the extent to which Mrs. Hudson is aware of her working against type. Nanny Birdie, governess in the affluent Bramwell household, ruefully acknowledges that her occupation renders her isolated and invisible, for she is neither proletarian nor bourgeoisie: “Within the social structure of a household such as this . . . , a governess is not taken into the confidence of the family nor do the servants consider her one of them. We are, for all intents and purposes . . . , neither fish nor fowl.” At the other extreme, Mrs. Hudson herself can cluck her tongue over the airs of Inspector Lestrade, whom she sees as taking on privileges inappropriate to his class; he is, she says, “overly pompous, as are such men who have obtained a limited degree of authority on rising up from the ranks” (Most Baffling, Mrs. Hudson 84; Murder, Mrs. Hudson 159-60).
The workings of class structure in the Irene Adler stories are suggestively more complex. The American-born Irene, as a performing artist, is already consigned to the fringes of conventional society; by taking on the role of investigator and self-consciously democratic free-thinker, she accentuates her disregard for European custom and convention, overtly asserting her challenge to the milieu in which she finds herself. She can, therefore, speak (as she does repeatedly) of the harsh realities of the world. She shares these truths with Nell, telling her early on that “I have worked for Whitely’s [Emporium] in a hundred guises, most of them theaters. Oh, my poor country lambkin, debating duty will never arm you for an ugly world, nor did a childhood at Parson Huxleigh’s holy knees! London is not Shropshire” (Good Night, Mr. Holmes 39).
Her determination to disregard “what anyone thinks of her but herself” sets the tone for her actions throughout the series, and her deliberate democratization of her life and outlook catches even the eye of minor royalty. Princess Alice of Monaco, herself an American and on the threshold of a marriage of convenience, notes how Irene has managed to subvert convention even in her marriage: “You, too, could have married a prince, with your beauty and talent, but there are rich compensations to be found with the uncommon common man” (Good Night, Mr. Holmes 176; Good Morning, Irene 190-91). Thus she offers, throughout the books, a conscious challenge to socially-determined status.
That challenge is accentuated by Nell Huxleigh’s innocence and class-sensitivity. Nell carries a considerable burden of class-conscious baggage, and the slow awakening of her self-awareness is a consistent motif throughout the novels. In the first she demurs to Godfrey Norton, “for it would not do for an employee to set herself above an employer.” Called the “voice of rectitude” and “the soul of propriety” by Princess Alice in the second, she finds herself, like Nanny Birdie, “not quite employee nor family member” (Good Night, Mr. Holmes 168; Good Morning, Irene 161, 188; Irene At Large 56). Even so, Godfrey and Irene treat her as an equal partner in the household, giving her an equal share of the proceeds from the sale of a diamond treasure and including her in their determination “to serve our own integrity before any other’s cause” (Irene’s Last Waltz 101).
Prompted and stimulated by their example, she comes at last to see herself as growing and moving toward her own modest social rebellion. Reflecting on the growing affection between her and the aristocratic Quentin Stanhope, for whose family she once worked, she sees herself as “vibrating between two separate poles: my long-ago role as governess . . . and my new role as friend . . . . A gulf of years and social position separated us, yet was rapidly shrinking in both cases” (Irene’s Last Waltz 209). It is a momentous revelation for one rooted so firmly in social convention as Nell, and it speaks to the power of class consciousness in a manner afforded few other passages in the stories.
If the Irene Adler books offer a bohemian vision of matters of class, the Mary Russell stories offer that of the educated professional. Already strong-willed and independent, Russell uses her intellect, her wealth, and her education to develop her role as an upper-middle-class professional — a status that enables her to move as freely as Holmes among the full range of classes. Her years at Oxford have made her at home with the aristocracy (she rubs elbows with a young nobleman who is clearly Lord Peter Wimsey), her training at Holmes’s hands includes schooling in burglary from a Balliol-educated cracksman (almost certainly A.J. Raffles), and she herself takes full advantage of the freedom accorded the new woman of the times to shape her surroundings and her circumstances (Letter of Mary 213-16, Monstrous Regiment of Women 309).
A lesson that Russell herself must learn is the far-reaching working of class and how it shapes social relationships. Thus, she gains first-hand knowledge of the part played by speech in affecting class perceptions. Her initial reaction to Holmes is colored by speech, for she bristles at his speaking “in that precise drawl which is the trademark of the overly educated upper-class English gentleman,” and she later sees the effect of a disguised Holmes’s speaking in “plummy Oxbridgian” to convince a client of his bona fides (Beekeeper’s Apprentice 6, 120). Moreover, she discovers class-based assumptions in her own makeup when she thinks of Arabian humor as “rather like the tales one overhears in a beery working-class pub” (O Jerusalem 146). It is a revelation to her to learn that Margery Childe’s ministry consciously emphasizes four class-related realms, literacy, health, safety, and political reform, that Russell has largely taken for granted. A stint of working as a secretary for the misogynistic Colonel Edwards reminds her of the power held by the moneyed class over the unemployed and needy, leading her to “the deep revulsion a slave feels for the master,” and she is wryly amused when the rustics of Dartmoor, at a loss as to how to characterize her (is she Holmes’s wife or is she an investigator, and why are the two roles incompatible?), at last give her identity as “Zherlock Mary” (Monstrous Regiment of Women 50; Letter of Mary 170-74; The Moor 169).
Russell’s status does, indeed, confer a measure of privilege and insulation, but her intellectual honesty compels her to acknowledge the advantages she enjoys and the restrictions that still prevail in the society. Thus she can, at last, come to appreciate the extraordinary concessions that Holmes makes as he admits her first into his professional life and then into his personal. The moment she realizes this is a staggering one for her, but it speaks eloquently of how her intellect and integrity have forced Holmes to rethink the world: “This man who was a Victorian gentleman down to his boots; this man was now . . . telling me in crystal-clear terms that he was prepared to treat me as his complete, full, and unequivocal equal, if that was what I wished” (Beekeeper’s Apprentice 299). Russell’s abilities compel Holmes to reject a lifetime of social indoctrination, and her Watsonian recording of the moment is memorable.
A third issue raised by all three series is perhaps the most significant, for it moves from the realm of the story to the realm of the reader — the manner in which the books force the reader to step back and consider his or her own preconceptions. Detective fiction, moreso than most other forms of popular writing, is formulaic. Whatever the particular subgenre the story advances (e.g., Locked-Room Mystery, Police Procedural, Hard-Boiled Private Eye Story), the reader expects certain conventions to come into play, and accepts them without even a conscious suspension of disbelief. Moreover, in the specific instance of the canonical Holmes stories, the inherent structure and stability of the society are essential. The mystery story builds upon such conventions, and its reliance upon them fuels “the interchange between text and reader” (Paul 50-59; Dove 52, 48).
When any story deviates from the conventions, the reader necessarily is taken aback. An expected form has appeared in an unexpected way and the reader’s tacit “understanding” of the format is shaken (Dove 48). All three authors capitalize upon this response; the innovation of telling “a Sherlock Holmes story” from the perspective of a woman confirms as much. As the stories develop in complexity, the authorial awareness of the possibilities inherent in such a contrast becomes increasingly overt and the three use the contrast to stimulate readers’ rethinking of the context, present as well as past, within which they are operating. Carole Nelson Douglas, for example, speaking through the persona of the academic, Fiona Witherspoon, remarks on how Nell Huxleigh’s accounts, with their record of “a liberated American woman in Victorian England,” challenge “the then-dominant male view, evident even in the Holmes stories” (Good Night, Mr. Holmes 404). In doing so, she acknowledges the part that background assumptions play in shaping perceptions of a work, and alerts the reader to revisionistic readings both present and yet to come.
Laurie R. King goes even farther. In the first book of the series she tacitly gives notice of her intent to challenge assumed patterns and conventional behavior, having Mary Russell speak of “the extraordinary effect gained by speech that is incongruous with one’s appearance.” The challenge implied in this passage she expands as the stories develop, deliberately taking on readers’ assumptions about Holmes. Holmes, she says, “is a perfect example of a character bigger than his creator, and I have found it both a challenge and a pleasure to free him from Conan Doyle’s preconceptions.” Through the agency of Mary Russell, she is able to examine both “a modern young woman confronting the epitome of the Victorian male world” and the reader’s expectations about that world, and the incongruity of both gives the reader a shock of awareness not often found in detective fiction (Beekeeper’s Apprentice 116; Silet 14).
The dozen or so books that make up the three series are entertainments; of that there is no question. Their authors are professional writers who are seeking commercial success. Yet each of the three does more, and they merit attention as a result. By replacing the Watsonian voice with that of a woman, they challenge the conventions of both historical Victorian England and the classic detective story. As they do, they offer three women’s voices, whose differences in class, education, and attitude toward social roles encourage readers to test the realities and social currents of this century (and soon the next) against the fictional representations of those of the preceding century. They play upon readers’ familiarity with the Holmes-Watson-Hudson household to encourage readers to examine the patterns and relationships that shape our own lives. And, finally, they offer readers a reminder that the extant society, beneath its surface, is not a homogeneous thing, but rather a complex and shifting social construct built in great part upon assumptions blithely made and judgments cruelly unexamined. Anachronistic though they may be in form and content, the three series nonetheless pose provocative and nagging questions, and the careful reader comes away from them unsettled as well as entertained. It is an achievement of which their authors can be proud.
Atkinson, Michael. The Secret Marriage of Sherlock Holmes and Other Eccentric Readings. Ann Arbor: U Michigan P, 1996.
Douglas, Carole Nelson. Good Night, Mr. Holmes. 1990. NY: Tor, 1991.
– – – . Good Morning, Irene. 1991. NY: Tor, 1992,
– – – . Irene At Large. 1992. NY: Tor, 1993.
– – – . Irene’s Last Waltz. NY: Tor, 1994.
Dove, George N. The Reader and the Detective Story. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State U Popular P, 1997.
Doyle, Arthur Conan. “A Scandal in Bohemia.” The Complete Sherlock Holmes. Garden City: Garden City Books, n.d. 177-94.
– – – . “The Adventure of the Abbey Grange.” The Complete Sherlock Holmes. Garden City: Garden City Books, n.d. 743-60.
Hosier, Sydney. Elementary, Mrs. Hudson. NY: Avon, 1996.
– – – . Murder, Mrs. Hudson. NY: Avon, 1997.
– – – . Most Baffling, Mrs. Hudson. NY: Avon, 1998.
– – – . The Game’s Afoot, Mrs. Hudson. NY: Avon, 1998.
King, Laurie R. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. 1994. NY: Bantam, 1996.
– – – . A Monstrous Regiment of Women. 1995. NY: Bantam, 1997.
– – – . A Letter of Mary. 1997. NY: Bantam, 1998.
– – – . The Moor. 1998. NY: Bantam, 1999.
– – – . O Jerusalem. NY: Bantam, 1999.
Paul, Robert S. Whatever Happened to Sherlock Holmes? Detective Fiction, Popular Theology, and Society. Carbondale: Southern Illinois U P, 1991.
Silet, Charles L.P. “An Interview with Laurie R. King,” Armchair Detective 30 (1997), 10-15.
Starrett, Vincent. The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Rev. and enlarged edn. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1960.
Stout, Rex. “Watson Was a Woman,” The Art of the Mystery Story. Ed. Howard Haycraft. NY: Grosset, 1947. 311-18.
1 Most Holmesian scholarship, following Vincent Starrett’s lead, speaks of Mrs. Hudson as Martha Hudson (Starrett 63-86). Hosier gives no reason for using “Emma.”
2 The story of Irene Adler, the only woman ever to defeat Sherlock Holmes, appears in “A Scandal in Bohemia.” Referred to ever after as “the woman” by Holmes, she is honored in one of the four Canonical Toasts specified by the constitution of the Baker Street Irregulars (Starrett 135). Michael Atkinson argues persuasively that Holmes’s feeling toward Adler is one of “physical celibacy” and “spiritual marriage” (49).
3 King speaks of this part of Russell’s characterization in Silet 14-15.
4 King’s off-handed injection of Wimsey and Raffles points up what George Dove sees as a distinguishing trait of detective fiction generally, its “self-reflexivity” (80).
5 The episode from The Beekeeper’s Apprentice takes
place in 1918, tacitly building upon George Bernard Shaw’s