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“He peered at me with great curiosity” [FINA] 


For a set of stories that was written by a physician who himself was a failed ophthamologist, it's comforting to see his former profession creep into the Canon.

One entry in the Sherlock Holmes stories, "The Golden Pince-Nez," even scores a title that was directly associated with Conan Doyle's former field of study. But what about other appearances of corrective lenses in the works?

Here's a quick accounting of some of those who required glasses:
  • Mr. Sherman, the animal proprietor, had "stooping shoulders, a stringy neck, and blue-tinted glasses." [SIGN]
  • Mary Sutherland wore pince-nez and her stepfather, James Windibank "wore tinted glasses against the glare." [IDEN]
  • John Openshaw entered 221B Baker Street, saying ""I owe you an apology," he said, raising his golden pince-nez to his eyes." [FIVE]
  • A more grandiose entrance came from Lord Robert St. Simon, who "advanced slowly into the room, turning his head from left to right, and swinging in his right hand the cord which held his golden eyeglasses." [NOBL]
  • Jephro Rucastle "sat at [Miss Stoper's] elbow with a pair of glasses on his nose, looking very earnestly at the ladies who entered." [COPP]
  • Wilson Kemp "was a little gentleman, with glasses, thin in the face, but very pleasant in his ways, for he was laughing all the time that he was talking." [GREE]
  • One of the other famous pairs of glasses in the Canon was worn by Charles Augustus Milverton, whose "grey eyes, which gleamed brightly from behind broad, golden-rimmed glasses." [CHAS]
  • Dr. Mortimer had "a long nose like a beak, which jutted out between two keen, gray eyes, set closely together and sparkling brightly from behind a pair of gold-rimmed glasses." [HOUN]
  • John McMurdo's "gray eyes gleamed with sudden and dangerous anger from behind his glasses." [VALL]
  • "Our client [Nathan Garrideb] shone with pleasure and his eyes gleamed from behind his big glasses." [3GAR]
  • Professor Presbury "appeared at the front window, and we were aware of a pair of keen eyes from under shaggy brows which surveyed us through large horn glasses." [CREE]
We're grateful that Conan Doyle wasn't so completely turned off by the study of the ocular that he gave up thinking about such things entirely. One of the reasons the Canon worked well at the time and remains popular today is its reality. Look around: we're surrounded by people who wear glasses.

Meanwhile, Baker Street Elementary brings this into focus for us...













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.



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