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The View from the East End (38)

By Inspector Hopkins

May 7 , 2006

Golf and Watson’s Literary Agent

by Inspector Hopkins

After the newer reader of the Sherlock Holmes adventures becomes more thoroughly familiar with the Canon, he or she may want to start learning more about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (ACD). Recall that when we are playing “the Game” or “speaking inside the Game”, we refer to him as Watson’s “literary agent”.

Well, we certainly owe this “agent” a great deal of thanks!  When I first started out as a Sherlockian, I was concentrating on reading all of Holmes’s accounts and paid practically no heed to his efforts. But over the past year or two as I made the circuit of different scion meetings and began to hear references to ACD, I started to see how events in his life helped shape the Canon.

Most recently I stumbled across the March issue of Golf Digest magazine, and in it is an excellent article by Charles McGrath entitled “How golf saved Sherlock Holmes”. It turns out that ACD was quite a sportsman! I was already reasonably familiar with his trips to Switzerland and some of his odd bits of experience such as whaling and skiing. Putting that information together with knowledge of the Canon, one can easily see how ACD was able to use those details to write such stories as The Adventure of Black Peter and The Final Problem.

Although his article covers several bits of ACD’s life and background, including his interest in spiritualism, McGrath’s focus is on how golf itself gave ACD the mental escapes he needed to write quite a bit more. His implication is that everything we call “post Reichenbach” (everything from “The Empty House” on up) and Holmes seemingly coming back from the dead, is all due to the time that ACD got to think while he was on the links. After writing these bi-weekly columns and reading his article, I assure you that I now have a deeper appreciation and understanding of the literary agent’s efforts.

On further reflection, it would seem that we all owe “golf” a great deal of thanks as well!

If anyone would like a copy of this very interesting article, feel free to e-mail me and I would be most pleased to send it to you.

Until next time, and thanking you for your attention, I remain,

Yours faithfully,