IHOSE header

"by the memory of your dear mother" [GLOR]

The unhappy mother of the unhappy John Hector McFarlane [NORW]

A happy Mother's Day to all of the Sherlockian mothers out there. Parental figures in the Sherlock Holmes stories are a mixed bag (listen to Episode 43: Fathers in the Canon for paternal examples), and in looking for maternal examples, we discovered that there were a good number of people who lost their mothers within the 60 tales.

Many of these these motherless children had tragic and heart-wrenching descriptions of their situation. Of note:
  • Lucy Ferrier, who was near death in the Great Alkalai Plain, stating "as long as we die we'll be with mother again." [STUD]
  • Mary Morstan, who returned to England when her father was stationed in the Indian army: "my mother was dead, and I had no relative in England." [SIGN]
  • Julia Stoner, step-daughter of Dr. Grimesby Roylott, stated "Shortly after our return to England my mother died - she was killed eight years ago in a railway accident near Crewe." [SPEC]
  • Violet Hunter sought Sherlock Holmes' perspective on her strange experience with Jephro Rucastle, saying "I have no parents or relations of any sort from whom I could ask advice..." [COPP]
Not to mention mothers who had to bear the unthinkable: the death of a child. Coincidentally, the examples here - just off the top of our head - are all shooting victims.
  • The mother of the Hon. Ronald Adair, felled by Col. Moran's bullet. [EMPT]
  • William Kirwan's mother, who was put into shock that "has made her half-witted." [REIG]
  • Arthur Cadogan West's mother, described as "the bereaved mother. The old lady was too dazed with grief to be of any use to us..." [BRUC]

“Just a trifle more” [SCAN]

For more discussion along these lines, Episode 19 of Trifles was all about Mothers in the Canon:

And we all know how influential Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's mother was in his life - from inspiring him to write "The Copper Beeches," to being a lasting influence on his love life. We learned a good deal more about the influence of "the Mam" in Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters, edited Daniel Stashower and Jon Lellenberg, which you can hear on Episode 13.

So be good to your mother for Mother's Day. Or honor her memory by doing something of which she would have approved. 

 And for God's sake, lock up the firearms.



Christy said... May 16, 2006 at 8:17 AM

Excellent post! Your comments got me thinking of Canonical mothers who prized their selfishness above their own children.

Effie Munro- who hides the existence of her child from her husband (YELL)

Mrs. Windibank- who aids her husband in deceiving her own daughter to keep money in the family (IDEN)

Mrs. Rucastle- who aided her husband in holding their stepdaughter hostage to keep money in the family (COPP)

Mrs. Gibson- who committed suicide to spite a pretty young governess (THOR)

Scott said... May 17, 2006 at 1:18 PM

Good examples, Christy. But I would argue that Effie Munro [YELL] hid the existence of her child not from selfishness, but from fear of hurting her husband.