“He used to make merry over the cleverness of women” [SCAN]
Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a few lines of poetry concerning his hopes for The Lost World, opining:
“I have wrought my simple planIf I give one hour of joyTo the boy who’s half a man,Or the man who’s half a boy.”
But that stanza could just as easily describe the Sherlock Holmes stories, as there was a collection of them released in 1938 under the title Conan Doyle's Stories for Boys and again in 1959 under Howard Haycraft's arrangement of them in The Boys' Sherlock Holmes.
But where would we be without the influence of women in the Canon?
In a 1946 letter to Edgar W. Smith, editor of The Baker Street Journal, Esther Longfellow wrote about "The Distaff Side of Baker Street":
"Dr. Watson would have us think Mr. Sherlock Holmes was indifferent to the charms of women, and that he had never been married. In support of his contention he declares, "he never spoke of the softer emotions, save with a give and a sneer." It would never occur to the unsubtle Watson that those trenchant words and that scoffing manner might hide a wounded, humiliated heart. Wold Mr. Sherlock Holmes be, then, the first proud man who endeavored to conceal his hurt under a mask of coldness and contempt of what had caused it? Only once did the mask slip — and Sherlock Holmes narrowly escaped becoming "the argument of his own scorn" — when he met The Woman. And Dr. Watson — the dependable family practitioner, familiar with the complications of mumps and measles, and even an obscure East Indian disease or two — never sense nor diagnosed the disorders of the great detective's soul: a citadel impregnable to any but a clever darling like Irene Adler."
The entire piece is well worth a read (available in the eBSJ and The Grand Game Volume One) and is a reminder of the nuances in the difference of the sexes.
You might also catch a glimpse of the influence of women in this playlist from the Trifles podcast:
Meanwhile, let's see what the boys are Baker Street Elementary are thinking about girls...
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.