“in the vain hope of seeing some signs” [STUD]
One topic that has fascinated Sherlockians for years is the date of Sherlock Holmes's birthday. The year is fairly well established, as he was referred to as "a tall, a gaunt man of sixty" in "His Last Bow," set squarely in 1914. But the day and month are less certain.
We discussed Sherlock Holmes's birthday on a recent episode of Trifles:
Christopher Morley, in "Clinical Notes by a Resident Patient," (The Baker Street Journal, Vol. 1, Nov. 3, 1946), described the selection of January 6:
"So the B.S.I. never had any strictly formal organization; and since the disappearance of the early memoranda, no one remembers who were the founding fathers. It is sad to record that Miss B. married a man who, so far as we know, has no special interest in Sherlock. The first dinner was held June 5, 1934. Mr. H. G. Wells, who had been in New York about that time, should have been there, but admitted that he could not pass the examination. One member, of a horoscopic bent, announced that zodiacal and astrological study indicated Sherlock’s birthday as probably January 6, 1854. This pleased me as it coincided with the birthday, in 1894, of the 2nd Garrideb, Dr. Felix Morley. So we decided to hold the annual meeting, if possible, some time during January."
But when it comes to Holmes's zodiacal sign, Nathan Bengis took a different view ("What Was the Month?" The Baker Street Journal, Vol. 7, No. 4, 1957):
"For consider: if Sherlock Holmes was born on January 6, he comes under the sign of Capricorn; but if in May or June, he must be assigned to Taurus, Gemini, or Cancer. Now to denominate the Master as a Goat is simply ludicrous; a Bull, patently absurd, and a Crab, a rank insult. So that, by the end of the much vaunted Sherlockian process of elimination, he most be a son of Gemini, the very sign within which Mr. Boswell's date of June 17 falls! What is more, Sherlock Holmes has precisely — with possibly one exception — the virtues commonly attributed to this most amicable of the signs: to quote from a book on the subject, "Scientific, judicious, fond of reading, ambitious of fame, moderate and temperate in eating and drinking, generally respected and good members of society."
It's highly unlikely that Holmes himself subscribed to (or was even aware of) the "science" or superstitions of the zodiac, as his knowledge of astronomy was "Nil." and he didn't take things like spectral hounds or blood-drinking vampires seriously.
Then again, things at Baker Street Elementary are always a little different...
Baker Street Elementary follows the original adventures of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, as they and their friends work through the issues of elementary school in Victorian London. An archive of all previous episodes can be viewed at www.bakerstreetelementary.org.