"a strange occupation in the circumstances" [RETI]
We've often remarked on Christopher Morley's bon mot that the totality of Sherlock Holmes stories is "a textbook of friendship." But the Canon is so rich in details that could be considered true to life that there are other elements of Victorian life that we're exposed to on a regular basis.
Conan Doyle's skill as a storyteller is evident: he didn't need to spend a great deal of time or space writing about certain elements; he knew when to "cut out the poetry" [RETI] and when to evoke emotion from his descriptions.
Since today is Labor Day in the United States, consider the various jobs and professions in the stories. We're generally not treated to a detailed description of them, because it was assumed that readers knew what these individuals did simply by virtue of the name of the job.
But to go through the list of occupations in the Canon is to have a snapshot of daily life. From plumbers (CHAS) to bank presidents (REDH, BERY), doctors (too many to list) to lawyers (NORW, SUSS), cab drivers (multiple) to carpenters (REDH), and grooms (so many) to governesses (COPP, THOR, WIST), we're treated to a roll call of jobs we know and understand.
But there are other occupations that we might not come across on a daily basis. A bodymaster in The Valley of Fear, a garroter in "The Empty House," a yeggman in "The Musgrave Ritual." An engineer even got his own story and we had ample opportunity to understand the type of work he did ("The Engineer's Thumb").
On Trifles, our weekly discussion program (subscribe here), we've touched on many of these occupations. So, we put together a playlist: Jobs and Occupations for you to enjoy on this Labor Day.
If there are other topics you'd like us to cover on the show, we'd be glad to hear from you.