[The Fall 2020 edition of The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories will be "Some More Untold Cases" - Thus, this essay is being presented on my irregular blog, a version of which originally appeared as my Editor's Foreword of The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories: Some Untold Cases - Part XI (1880-1891) and Part XII (1894-1902)]
There are certain numbers that are triggers to deeply passionate Sherlockians. One of these is 221. I’ve discussed this with other people of like mind. If you’re one of us, you know that feeling – when you’re going through your day and look up to see that it’s 2:21 – hopefully in the afternoon, because you should be asleep for the other one. Seeing that it’s 2:21 o’clock is always a little thrill.
One can encounter 221's all over the place. Who doesn’t get a pleasant surprise when seeing that there are 221 miles left before the car runs out of gas?
Or what about when gas is $2.21 per gallon? (Make no mistake - that's still too much, but it's an aesthetically pleasing price if you're a Sherlockian):
Sometimes a lucky Sherlockian will be assigned 221 as a hotel room.
In her retirement home, my mother-in-law lived next door to someone in Room 221, and I couldn’t walk by that door without noticing it every time. Maybe you have an office numbered 221 - or at least you might have an appointment in one. If you’re very lucky, your house number is 221 – and I wonder how many non-London Baker Streets are there scattered throughout the world that have a 221 address?
Here’s a house not far from where I live with the almost-correct number of 2213. I’d be so tempted to add a line down the left side of that 3 . . . .
I often notice when I reach page 221 in a book, and I know from asking that other Sherlockians do the same. I was tickled a couple of years ago, while re-reading the stories in Lyndsay Faye’s excellent collection of Holmes adventures, The Whole Art of Detection, to see that the story she’d written for the first MX collection, “The Adventure of the Willow Basket”, began on page 221.
Even better is Profile by Gaslight (1944), in which Edgar W. Smith made Page 221 into Page 221b:
Any American interstate that’s long enough will have a marker for Mile 221, and just east of Nashville, Tennessee, about three hours due west of where I live, and where I’m sometimes able to attend meetings of The Nashville Scholars of the Three Pipe Problem – a scion of which I’m a proudly invested member – there’s a big sign for Exit 221B on the eastern side of Interstate-40. My deerstalker and I have several photos in front of it.
Best of all is when you can visit the most famous 221 in the world - in Baker Street, London:
221 is a number that makes a Sherlockian look twice, but there’s another – 1895.
Always 1895 - or a Few Decades on Either Side of It . . . .
1895 is a year that falls squarely within the time that Holmes was in practice in Baker Street – and I specify that location, because he had a Montague Street practice and unofficially a retirement-era Sussex practice as well, where he carried out the occasional investigation, while also spending a great amount of time first trying to prevent, and then trying to prepare for, the Great War of 1914-1918. But he was in Baker Street from 1881 to 1891 (when he was presumed to have died at the Reichenbach Falls,) and then again from 1894 (when he returned to London in April of that year) until autumn 1903, when his so-called “retirement” began, before he began his efforts leading to prevenging, or at least delaying, the great global war that was looming in the distant future.
1895 isn’t especially known as Holmes’s busiest or most famous year. Make no mistake, there were some interesting cases then: “Wisteria Lodge”, “The Three Students”, “The Solitary Cyclist”, “Black Peter”, and “The Bruce-Partington Plans”. But 1894 is when Watson specifically mentions, in “The Golden Pince-Nez”, the three massive manuscript volumes which contain his and Holmes’s work. And it was the 1880’s, before The Great Hiatus, where all of those beloved adventures recorded in The Adventures and The Memoirs occurred. “The Speckled Band”, possibly one of the most famous of them all, took place in 1883. All four of the long published adventures, A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of the Four, The Valley of Fear, and perhaps the most famous of tales, The Hound of the Baskervilles, occur chronologically before 1895.
And yet, 1895 is still the representative year most mentioned by Sherlockians – “where it is always 1895” said Vincent Starrett at the conclusion of his famous poem 221B, written in 1942, and so it is subsequently referenced in essays and gatherings and toasts as the year.
Written in the early days of U.S. involvement in World War II – but several years after much of the rest of the world had already tipped into the conflagration – the closing couplet of Starrett’s poem reflects his likely despair at the terrible conflict:
Here, though the world explode, these two survive,
And it is always eighteen ninety-five.
I’m not a Starrett scholar, but I suspect that he was looking back to a more innocent time – or so it seemed when compared to the terrible war-torn world of 1942. (For many of the people actually in 1895, the world was a relatively terrible place for them too, for all kinds of different reasons.) But did Starrett simply mean to invoke the whole Holmesian era, a bygone past, or did he specifically want to focus on 1895? It’s likely that the former is true, and that he simply used 1895 because five rhymes with survive. It could have just as easily have been a different number – although with less effect:
Here, though the world explode, these two are fine,
And it is always eighteen ninety-nine.
Imagine – but for a different word choice, we could have been finding ourselves misty-eyed when referring to 1899. Or Starrett could have used 1885 and made the original rhyme work. Still, it’s 1895 that we have, and so that’s what we’ll be going on with as the year that we associate with Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson – although I’m quick to point out that it’s 1895, along with several decades on either side of it!
Having explored 221 and 1895, there’s another Sherlockian number that might not immediately spring to mind, but that doesn’t diminish it, because it holds a great deal of power for some Sherlockians. That number is 60 – as in, Sixty Stories in the original Sherlockian Canon. For some die-hard types out there, this is it. No more, forever, period, finis, The End. There can only be sixty Holmes stories, and anything beyond that is fraudulent abomination. (Except, of course, for those one or two stories on their lists that get a rule-bending free pass.) It’s amusing for me to read various scholarly works, such as Martin Dakin’s A Sherlock Holmes Commentary (1972), that don’t even really like all of the original sixty Canonical adventures, let alone anything post-Canonical, picking apart the originals and speculating that this or that later Canonical narrative is a forgery.
I don’t buy into that philosophy. Early on, I ran out of Canonical stories to read and I wanted more. And I found them – some admittedly of lesser quality, but some better than the originals. (It's true.) Even at a young age, I understood that some of the original tales weren’t quite as good as others, but those first sixty stories, presented by the First Literary Agent and of whatever varying levels of quality, were about the true Sherlock Holmes, and they let me visit in his world, and I wanted more. Thankfully, before I’d even read all of The Canon, I’d discovered those post-Canonical adventures designated as pastiches, so even as I re-read the original adventures countless times, I also read and re-read all of those others that told of new cases, or filled in the spaces between the originals.
Luckily, even Watson never acted as if Holmes only solved sixty cases and that was it. No matter how intriguing a personality is Sherlock Holmes, or how vivid his adventures are that they make a visit to Baker Street sometimes more real than tedious daily life, how could we truly argue that he’s the world’s greatest detective based on a mere and pitifully few sixty stories?
In “The Problem of Thor Bridge”, Watson tells us that:
Somewhere in the vaults of the bank of Cox and Co., at Charing Cross, there is a travel-worn and battered tin dispatch box with my name, John H. Watson, M.D., Late Indian Army, painted upon the lid. It is crammed with papers, nearly all of which are records of cases to illustrate the curious problems which Mr. Sherlock Holmes had at various times to examine. Some, and not the least interesting, were complete failures, and as such will hardly bear narrating, since no final explanation is forthcoming. A problem without a solution may interest the student, but can hardly fail to annoy the casual reader . . . Apart from these unfathomed cases, there are some which involve the secrets of private families to an extent which would mean consternation in many exalted quarters if it were thought possible that they might find their way into print. I need not say that such a breach of confidence is unthinkable, and that these records will be separated and destroyed now that my friend has time to turn his energies to the matter. There remain a considerable residue of cases of greater or less interest which I might have edited before had I not feared to give the public a surfeit which might react upon the reputation of the man whom above all others I revere. In some I was myself concerned and can speak as an eye-witness, while in others I was either not present or played so small a part that they could only be told as by a third person.
Thank goodness this incredible Tin Dispatch Box has been accessed throughout the years by so many later Literary Agents to bring us all these other wonderful Holmes adventures. Many that have been revealed have been complete surprises, but sometimes we’ve discovered details about a special group of extra-Canonical adventures, those that fire the imagination to an even greater level: The Untold Cases.
(I've had my hands on that Tin Dispatch Box several times, such as this occasion ....)
The Untold Cases
Of course, they aren’t called "The Untold Cases" in The Canon. The earliest references to The Untold Cases that I’ve heard of so far (with thanks to Beth Gallegos) are by Anthony Boucher in 1955, and by William S. Baring-Gould in his amazing The Chronological Sherlock Holmes (1955). Additionally, Charles Campbell located a reference to “stories yet untold” by Vincent Starrett in “In Praise of Sherlock Holmes” (in Reedy’s Mirror, February 22, 1918). The Untold Cases are those intriguing references to Holmes’s other cases that – for various reasons – were not chosen for publication. There were a lot of them – by some counts over one-hundred-and-forty – and in the years since Watson’s passing in 1929, many of these narratives have been discovered and published.
For example, The Giant Rat of Sumatra . . . .
Since the mid-1990’s, I’ve been chronologicizing both Canon and Pastiche, a massive project that is now around 1,000 dense pages of material, and as part of that, I note in my annotations when a particular narrative is an Untold Case. Glancing through my notes, I see that there are far too many narratives of The Untold Cases to list here. Just a quick glance through my own collection and Chronology reveals, in no particular order, multiple versions of perhaps the greatest and most intriguing Untold Case of them all, The Giant Rat of Sumatra:
• The Giant Rat of Sumatra – Rick Boyer (1976) (Possibly the greatest pastiche of all time, shown here in several editions in my collection)
Then there are several novel-length versions that mention the Giant Rat in the title:
• The Giant Rat of Sumatra – Jake and Luke Thoene (1995)
• The Shadow of the Rat – David Stuart Davies (1999)
• The Giant Rat of Sumatra – Daniel Gracely (2001)
• Sherlock Holmes and the Giant Rat of Sumatra – Alan Vanneman (2002)
• Sherlock Holmes’ Lost Adventure: The True Story of the Giant Rats of Sumatra – Laurel Steinhauer (2004)
• The Giant Rat of Sumatra – Paul D. Gilbert (2010)
Quite a few others refer to the Rat during the course of the narrative . . . .
• “The Giant Rat of Sumatra”, The Oriental Casebook of Sherlock Holmes – Ted Riccardi (2003)
• “The Giant Rat of Sumatra”, The Lost Stories of Sherlock Holmes – Tony Reynolds (2010)
• “The Case of the Sumatran Rat”, The Secret Chronicles of Sherlock Holmes – June Thomson (1992)
• “Sherlock Holmes and the Giant Rat of Sumatra”, More From the Deed Box of John H. Watson MD – Hugh Ashton (2012)
• “The Case of the Giant Rat of Sumatra”, The Secret Notebooks of Sherlock Holmes – Liz Hedgecock (2016)
• Sherlock Holmes and the Limehouse Horror – Phillip Pullman (1992, 2001)
• “The Mysterious Case of the Giant Rat of Sumatra”, The Mark of the Gunn – Brian Gibson (2000)
• “The Giant Rat of Sumatra”, Resurrected Holmes – Paula Volsky (1996)
• “All This and the Giant Rat of Sumatra”, Sherlock Holmes and The Baker Street Dozen – Val Andrews (1997)
• “Matilda Briggs and the Giant Rat of Sumatra”, The Elementary Cases of Sherlock Holmes – Ian Charnock (1999)
• “The Giant Rat of Sumatra”, Sherlock Holmes: The Lost Cases – Alvin F. Rymsha (2006)
• “No Rats Need Apply”, The Unexpected Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Amanda Knight (2004)
• Mrs Hudson and the Spirit’s Curse – Martin Davies (2004)
• “The Case of the Missing Energy”, The Einstein Paradox – Colin Bruce (1994)
• “The Giant Rat of Sumatra”, The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part XII: Some Untold Cases (1894-1902) - Nick Cardillo (2018)
• “The Giant Rat of Sumatra”, The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part XI: Some Untold Cases (1880-1891) - Leslie Charteris and Denis Green (1944, 2018)
And since I gathered all those for a photo and originally posted this blog entry, I've come across another version, this one by Bob Bishop:
Additionally, there are a few other appearances out there, including, but not limited to . . .
• “The Giant Rat of Sumatra” – Paul Boler (Fan Fiction - 2000)
• “The World is Now Prepared” – “slogging ruffian” (Fan Fiction - Date unverified)
• “The Adventure of the Giant Rat of Sumatra”, Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Magazine – John Lescroart, (December 1988)
In addition to the versions of The Giant Rat that are available, there’s also one that isn’t – possibly the earliest telling of it in the intriguing lost radio script by Edith Meiser, broadcast on multiple occasions: With Richard Gordon as Holmes on April 20th (although some sources say June 9th), 1932, and again on July 18th, 1936; and then on March 1st, 1942 (with Basil Rathbone as Holmes). Sadly, these versions are apparently lost, although I’d dearly love to hear – and read – them!
Although Rathbone and Bruce performed Edith Meiser’s version of “The Giant Rat” in 1942, they weren’t limited to just that version. A completely different version, this time by Bruce Taylor (Leslie Charteris) and Denis Green, was broadcast on July 31st, 1944. Amazingly, Charteris’s scripts have been located by Ian Dickerson, who is in the process of publishing them for modern audiences who would otherwise have never had the chance to enjoy these lost cases.
And even more amazing, Mr. Dickerson allowed the 1944 version of “The Giant Rat” to initially be published in The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part XI: Some Untold Cases (1880-1891), as mentioned above.
Interestingly, Untold Cases have been presented in Holmes radio shows since the 1930’s, but they are much more rare in television episodes and movies. Sadly, except for some Russian efforts and a few stand-alone films, there have been absolutely no Sherlock Holmes television series whatsoever on British or American television since the Jeremy Brett films from Granada ended in 1994. Hopefully, a set of film scripts by Bert Coules featuring an age-appropriate Holmes and Watson, set in the early 1880’s, will find a home soon. I’ve been wanting to see (or read) these for years, and I’m curious as to whether any other Untold Cases feature in them – especially since Bert covered some of them so well in his radio series The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes:
It isn't only Holmes who has faced The Giant Rat. For instance, Inspector Lestrade, as portrayed in the nineteen (so far) novels by M.J. Trow, has crossed its path in Lestrade and the Giant Rat of Sumatra (2014). Some of the Lestrade novels by Trow can almost fit within a traditional Canonical framework. Some, sadly, cannot.
Every once in awhile the Giant Rat appears in something that isn't traditional or Canonical at all, such as when my very old (but always young) friends The Hardy Boys encountered it while carrying out an investigation involving a Sherlock Holmes Musical in No. 143 The Giant Rat of Sumatra (1997). I've been reading and collecting The Hardy Boys since I was eight years old in 1978, and I have all of them, every book, every series. I was thrilled when this volume appeared:
And then there are the world-threatening giant rats that my all-time favorite superhero, Captain Marvel - and he's Captain Marvel, and NOT Shazam! - faced in a story first published in 1953, and reprinted in my childhood in this 1975 comic, still in my Captain Marvel collection:
More than one version . . . .
The examples of Giant Rat encounters shown above is by no means a complete representation of all the Giant Rat narratives. These are simply the ones that I found when making a pass along the shelves of my Holmes Collection, and what jumped out during a quick search through my Chronology. The thing to remember is that in spite of every one of these stories being about a Giant Rat, none of them contradict one another or cancel each other out to become the only true Giant Rat adventure.
Something that I learned very early, far before I created my Chronology back in the mid-1990’s, is that there are lots of sequels to the original Canonical tales, and there are also lots of different versions of the Untold Tales. Some readers, of course, don’t like and will never accept any of them, since they didn’t cross the First Literary Agent’s desk. Others, however, only wish to seek out the sole and single account that satisfies them the most, therefore dismissing the others as “fiction” – a word that I find quite distasteful when directed toward Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
My approach is that if the different versions of either sequels or Untold Cases are Canonical, and don't violate the obvious rules: They aren't parodies, they don't contain anachronisms, there are no actual supernatural encounters, and Holmes isn't portrayed sociopathic murderer – then they are legitimate.
Perhaps it seems too unlikely for some that there were so many Giant Rats in London during Holmes’s active years. Not true. Each Giant Rat adventure mentioned above is very different, and in any case, Watson was a master at obfuscation. He changed names and dates to satisfy all sorts of needs. For instance, he often made it appear at times as if Holmes went for weeks in fits of settee-bound depression between cases, when in fact he was involved constantly in thousands upon thousands of cases, each intertwined like incredibly complex threads in The Great Holmes Tapestry.
There have been many stories about Holmes and Watson’s encounter with Huret, the Boulevard Assassin, in 1894. Contradictory? Not at all. Holmes simply rooted out an entire nest of Al Qaeda-like assassins during that deadly summer. There are a lot of tales out there relating the peculiar persecution of John Vincent Harden in 1895. No problem – there were simply a lot of tobacco millionaires in London during that time, all peculiarly persecuted – but in very different ways – and Watson lumped them in his notes under the catch-all name of John Vincent Harden. Later Literary Agents, not quite knowing how to conquer Watson’s personal codes and reverse-engineer who the real client was in these cases, simply left the name as written.
What Counts as an Untold Case?
As mentioned, there have been over one-hundred identified Untold Cases, although some arguments are made one way or another as to whether some should be included. Do Holmes’s various stops during The Great Hiatus – such as Persia and Mecca and Khartoum – each count as an Untold Case? (To me they do.) What about certain entries in Holmes’s good old index, like “Viggo, the Hammersmith Wonder” or “Vittoria, the Circus Belle”? Possibly they were just clippings about odd people from the newspaper, but I – and many other later Literary Agents – prefer to think of these as Holmes’s past investigations.
Then there are the cases that involve someone else’s triumph – or do they? – like Lestrade’s “Molesley Mystery” (mentioned in “The Empty House”, where the most well-known Scotland Yard inspector competently handled an investigation during Holmes’s Hiatus absence), or “The Long Island Cave Mystery”, as solved by Leverton of the Pinkertons, and referenced in “The Red Circle”. (And as an aside, I have to castigate Owen Dudley Edwards, the editor of the Oxford annotated edition of The Canon , who decided to change the Long Island Cave to Cove simply because “there are no caves in Long Island, N.Y.” (p. 206) – thus derailing a long-standing point of Canonical speculation. Pfui!)
The Oxford Comma
And then there’s the matter of the Oxford Comma, sometimes known as the “Serial” or “Terminal” Comma. A quick search of the internet found this example of incorrect usage:
This book is dedicated to my parents, Ayn Rand and God.
Clearly this author either had some interesting parents, or more likely he or she needed to use a comma after Rand to differentiate that series of parents, Ayn, and Deity.
And that relates to Untold Cases in this way: There are two Untold Cases that might actually be four, depending on one’s use (or not) of the Oxford Comma. In “The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez”, Watson tells of some of the cases that occurred in 1894. As he states:
As I turn over the pages I see my notes upon the repulsive story of the red leech and the terrible death of Crosby the banker. Here also I find an account of the Addleton tragedy and the singular contents of the ancient British barrow.
I have many adventures in my collection that present these as two cases: (1) The repulsive story of the red leech and the terrible death of Crosby the banker and (2) The Addleton tragedy and the singular contents of the ancient British barrow. All are very satisfying. But I also have others that split them up into four cases: (1) The repulsive story of the red leech and (2) the terrible death of Crosby the banker and (3) the Addleton tragedy and (4) the singular contents of the ancient British barrow.
As an amateur editor, I honor the Oxford Comma. I’ve been aware of it for years, ever since reading – somewhere – that editor extraordinaire Frederic Dannay (of Ellery Queen-fame and founder and the founding editor of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine from 1941-1982,) was a strong supporter of it. When writing this, I couldn’t remember where I’d read that, so I asked his son, Richard Dannay, who replied:
I can say with certainty that my father believed in the serial, or Oxford, or terminal (pick your poison) comma. I have no doubt. But sitting here, I’m not sure where he said that in print. I’ll need to think about that. But I will send you a secondary source, absolutely unimpeachable in accuracy, where his preference is described.
And then he sent me a PDF excerpt from Eleanor Sullivan’s Whodunit: A Biblio-Bio-Anecdotal Memoir of Frederic Dannay (Targ Editions, NY, 1984, pp. 17-18). Ms. Sullivan was Dannay’s chief editorial assistant for EQMM for many years, and after he died, she became the EQMM editor as his successor for about ten years before her premature death. (As Richard pointed out, the current editor is Janet Hutchings, only the third EQMM editor in its now over seventy-five-year history.)
Ms. Sullivan wrote:
Fred’s style in editing EQMM could be considered eccentric, but I soon became used to it because there was his special logic behind everything he did. I didn’t know he was exasperated by my non-use of the terminal comma (that is, a comma between the second-to-last word in a series of words and the “and”) until one day when we were discussing some copy I’d sent him, he sighed dramatically and said, “I wish you could learn to use the terminal comma.” I’ve been scrupulous about using it ever since.
Recalling Frederic Dannay’s passion for the Oxford Comma, I try to notice and then to add one in every place that needs it as I edit. Having hubristically stated that, I’m absolutely certain that there are places where I’ve missed them.
Other Untold Cases
As mentioned, there are far too many Untold Cases to list or recommend. The first encounter that I recall with attempts to reveal the Untold Cases was in The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes (1954) by a son of the First Literary Agent, Adrian Conan Doyle, and famed locked-room author John Dickson Carr. At the end of each of those twelve stories, a quote from The Canon revealed which Untold Case that it was – since it wasn’t always clear from the story’s title – and how it was originally mentioned.
2018's two-volume set The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories: Some Untold Cases - Part XI (1880-1891) and Part XII (1894-1902) contained 34 Untold Cases, and another similar set is planned for Fall 2020:
The Untold Cases - A List
The following list of Untold Cases has been assembled from several sources, including lists compiled by Sherlockians Randall Stock and the late Phil Jones, as well as some internet resources and my own research. I cannot promise that it’s complete – some Untold Cases may be missing – after all, there’s a great deal of Sherlockian Scholarship that involves interpretation and rationalizing – and there are some listed here that certain readers may believe shouldn’t be listed at all.
As a fanatical supporter and collector of traditional Canonical pastiches since I was a ten-year-old boy in 1975, reading Nicholas Meyer’s The Seven-Per-Cent Solution and The West End Horror before I’d even read all of The Canon, I can attest that serious and legitimate versions of all of these Untold Cases exist out there – some of them occurring with much greater frequency than others – and I hope to collect, read, and chronologicize them all.
There’s so much more to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes than the pitifully few sixty stories that were fixed up by the First Literary Agent. I highly recommend that you find and read all of the rest of them as well, including those relating these Untold Cases. You won’t regret it.
A Study in Scarlet
• Mr. Lestrade . . . got himself in a fog recently over a forgery case
• A young girl called, fashionably dressed
• A gray-headed, seedy visitor, looking like a Jew pedlar who appeared to be very much excited
• A slipshod elderly woman
• An old, white-haired gentleman had an interview
• A railway porter in his velveteen uniform
The Sign of the Four
• The consultation last week by Francois le Villard
• The most winning woman Holmes ever knew was hanged for poisoning three little children for their insurance money
• The most repellent man of Holmes’s acquaintance was a philanthropist who has spent nearly a quarter of a million upon the London poor
• Holmes once enabled Mrs. Cecil Forrester to unravel a little domestic complication. She was much impressed by his kindness and skill
• Holmes lectured the police on causes and inferences and effects in the Bishopgate jewel case
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
“A Scandal in Bohemia”
• The summons to Odessa in the case of the Trepoff murder
• The singular tragedy of the Atkinson brothers at Trincomalee
• The mission which Holmes had accomplished so delicately and successfully for the reigning family of Holland. (He also received a remarkably brilliant ring)
• The Darlington substitution scandal, and . . .
• The Arnsworth castle business. (When a woman thinks that her house is on fire, her instinct is at once to rush to the thing which she values most. It is a perfectly overpowering impulse, and Holmes has more than once taken advantage of it
“The Red-Headed League”
• The previous skirmishes with John Clay
“A Case of Identity”
• The Dundas separation case, where Holmes was engaged in clearing up some small points in connection with it. The husband was a teetotaler, there was no other woman, and the conduct complained of was that he had drifted into the habit of winding up every meal by taking out his false teeth and hurling them at his wife, which is not an action likely to occur to the imagination of the average story-teller.
• The rather intricate matter from Marseilles
• Mrs. Etherege, whose husband Holmes found so easy when the police and everyone had given him up for dead
“The Boscombe Valley Mystery”
“The Five Orange Pips”
• The adventure of the Paradol Chamber
• The Amateur Mendicant Society, who held a luxurious club in the lower vault of a furniture warehouse
• The facts connected with the disappearance of the British barque Sophy Anderson
• The singular adventures of the Grice-Patersons in the island of Uffa
• The Camberwell poisoning case, in which, as may be remembered, Holmes was able, by winding up the dead man’s watch, to prove that it had been wound up two hours before, and that therefore the deceased had gone to bed within that time – a deduction which was of the greatest importance in clearing up the case
• Holmes saved Major Prendergast in the Tankerville Club scandal. He was wrongfully accused of cheating at cards
• Holmes has been beaten four times – three times by men and once by a woman
“The Man with the Twisted Lip”
• The rascally Lascar who runs The Bar of Gold in Upper Swandam Lane has sworn to have vengeance upon Holmes
“The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle”
“The Adventure of the Speckled Band”
• Mrs. Farintosh and an opal tiara. (It was before Watson’s time)
“The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb”
• Colonel Warburton's madness
“The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor”
• The letter from a fishmonger
• The letter a tide-waiter
• The service for Lord Backwater
• The little problem of the Grosvenor Square furniture van
• The service for the King of Scandinavia
“The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet”
“The Adventure of the Copper Beeches”
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
“The Cardboard Box”
• Aldridge, who helped in the bogus laundry affair
“The Yellow Face”
• The (First) Adventure of the Second Stain was a failure which present[s] the strongest features of interest
‘The Stockbroker’s Clerk”
“The “Gloria Scott”
“The Musgrave Ritual”
• The Tarleton murders
• The case of Vamberry, the wine merchant
• The adventure of the old Russian woman
• The singular affair of the aluminium crutch
• A full account of Ricoletti of the club foot and his abominable wife
• The two cases before the Musgrave Ritual from Holmes’s fellow students
“The Reigate Squires”
• The whole question of the Netherland-Sumatra Company and of the colossal schemes of Baron Maupertuis
The Crooked Man”
The Resident Patient”
• [Catalepsy] is a very easy complaint to imitate. Holmes has done it himself.
“The Greek Interpreter”
• Mycroft expected to see Holmes round last week to consult him over that Manor House case. It was Adams, of course
• Some of Holmes’s most interesting cases have come to him through Mycroft
“The Naval Treaty”
• The (Second) adventure of the Second Stain, which dealt with interest of such importance and implicated so many of the first families in the kingdom that for many years it would be impossible to make it public. No case, however, in which Holmes was engaged had ever illustrated the value of his analytical methods so clearly or had impressed those who were associated with him so deeply. Watson still retained an almost verbatim report of the interview in which Holmes demonstrated the true facts of the case to Monsieur Dubugue of the Paris police, and Fritz von Waldbaum, the well-known specialist of Dantzig, both of whom had wasted their energies upon what proved to be side-issues. The new century will have come, however, before the story could be safely told.
• The Adventure of the Tired Captain
• A very commonplace little murder. If it [this paper] turns red, it means a man's life . . . .
“The Final Problem”
• The engagement for the French Government upon a matter of supreme importance
• The assistance to the Royal Family of Scandinavia
The Return of Sherlock Holmes
“The Adventure of the Empty House”
• Holmes traveled for two years in Tibet (as) a Norwegian named Sigerson, amusing himself by visiting Lhassa [sic] and spending some days with the head Llama [sic]
• Holmes traveled in Persia
• . . . looked in at Mecca . . .
• . . . and paid a short but interesting visit to the Khalifa at Khartoum
• Returning to France, Holmes spent some months in a research into the coal-tar derivatives, which he conducted in a laboratory at Montpelier [sic], in the South of France
• Mathews, who knocked out Holmes’s left canine in the waiting room at Charing Cross
• The death of Mrs. Stewart, of Lauder, in 1887
• Morgan the poisoner
• Merridew of abominable memory
• The Molesey Mystery (Inspector Lestrade’s Case. He handled it fairly well.)
“The Adventure of the Norwood Builder”
• The case of the papers of ex-President Murillo
• The shocking affair of the Dutch steamship, Friesland, which so nearly cost both Holmes and Watson their lives
• That terrible murderer, Bert Stevens, who wanted Holmes and Watson to get him off in ’87
“The Adventure of the Dancing Men”
“The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist”
• The peculiar persecution of John Vincent Harden, the well-known tobacco millionaire
• It was near Farnham that Holmes and Watson took Archie Stamford, the forger
“The Adventure of the Priory School”
• Holmes was retained in the case of the Ferrers Documents
• The Abergavenny murder, which is coming up for trial
“The Adventure of Black Peter”
• The sudden death of Cardinal Tosca – an inquiry which was carried out by him at the express desire of His Holiness the Pope
• The arrest of Wilson, the notorious canary-trainer, which removed a plague-spot from the East-End of London.
“The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton”
“The Adventure of the Six Napoleons”
• The dreadful business of the Abernetty family, which was first brought to Holmes’s attention by the depth which the parsley had sunk into the butter upon a hot day
• The Conk-Singleton forgery case
• Holmes was consulted upon the case of the disappearance of the black pearl of the Borgias, but was unable to throw any light upon it
“The Adventure of the Three Students”
• Some laborious researches in Early English charters
“The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez”
• The repulsive story of the red leech
• . . . and the terrible death of Crosby, the banker
• The Addleton tragedy
• . . . and the singular contents of the ancient British barrow
• The famous Smith-Mortimer succession case
• The tracking and arrest of Huret, the boulevard assassin
“The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter”
• Henry Staunton, whom Holmes helped to hang
• Arthur H. Staunton, the rising young forger
“The Adventure of the Abbey Grange”
• Hopkins called Holmes in seven times, and on each occasion his summons was entirely justified
“The Adventure of the Second Stain”
• The woman at Margate. No powder on her nose – that proved to be the correct solution. How can one build on such a quicksand? A woman’s most trivial action may mean volumes, or their most extraordinary conduct may depend upon a hairpin or a curling-tong
The Hound of the Baskervilles
• That little affair of the Vatican cameos, in which Holmes obliged the Pope
• The little case in which Holmes had the good fortune to help Messenger Manager Wilson
• One of the most revered names in England is being besmirched by a blackmailer, and only Holmes can stop a disastrous scandal
• The atrocious conduct of Colonel Upwood in connection with the famous card scandal at the Nonpareil Club
• Holmes defended the unfortunate Mme. Montpensier from the charge of murder that hung over her in connection with the death of her stepdaughter Mlle. Carere, the young lady who, as it will be remembered, was found six months later alive and married in New York
The Valley of Fear
• Twice already Holmes had helped Inspector Macdonald
His Last Bow
“The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge”
• The locking-up Colonel Carruthers
“The Adventure of the Red Circle”
• The affair last year for Mr. Fairdale Hobbs
• The Long Island cave mystery
“The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans”
• Brooks . . .
• . . . or Woodhouse, or any of the fifty men who have good reason for taking Holmes’s life
“The Adventure of the Dying Detective”
“The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax”
• Holmes cannot possibly leave London while old Abrahams is in such mortal terror of his life
“The Adventure of the Devil's Foot”
• Holmes’s dramatic introduction to Dr. Moore Agar, of Harley Street
“His Last Bow”
• Holmes started his pilgrimage at Chicago . . .
• . . . graduated in an Irish secret society at Buffalo
• . . . gave serious trouble to the constabulary at Skibbareen
• Holmes saves Count Von und Zu Grafenstein from murder by the Nihilist Klopman
The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes
“The Adventure of the Illustrious Client”
• Negotiations with Sir George Lewis over the Hammerford Will case
“The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier”
• The Abbey School in which the Duke of Greyminster was so deeply involved
• The commission from the Sultan of Turkey which required immediate action
• The professional service for Sir James Saunders
“The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone”
• Old Baron Dowson said the night before he was hanged that in Holmes’s case what the law had gained the stage had lost
• The death of old Mrs. Harold, who left Count Sylvius the Blymer estate
• The compete life history of Miss Minnie Warrender
• The robbery in the train de-luxe to the Riviera on February 13, 1892
“The Adventure of the Three Gables”
• The killing of young Perkins outside the Holborn Bar
• Mortimer Maberly, was one of Holmes’s early clients
“The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire”
• Matilda Briggs, a ship which is associated with the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared
• Victor Lynch, the forger
• Venomous lizard, or Gila. Remarkable case, that!
• Vittoria the circus belle
• Vanderbilt and the Yeggman
• Vigor, the Hammersmith wonder
“The Adventure of the Three Garridebs”
• Holmes refused a knighthood for services which may, someday, be described
“The Problem of Thor Bridge”
• Mr. James Phillimore who, stepping back into his own house to get his umbrella, was never more seen in this world
• The cutter Alicia, which sailed one spring morning into a patch of mist from where she never again emerged, nor was anything further ever heard of herself and her crew.
• Isadora Persano, the well-known journalist and duelist who was found stark staring mad with a match box in front of him which contained a remarkable worm said to be unknown to science
“The Adventure of the Creeping Man”
“The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane”
“The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger”
• The whole story concerning the politician, the lighthouse, and the trained cormorant
“The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place”
• Holmes ran down that coiner by the zinc and copper filings in the seam of his cuff
• The St. Pancras case, where a cap was found beside the dead policeman. Merivale of the Yard, asked Holmes to look into it
“The Adventure of the Retired Colourman”
• The case of the two Coptic Patriarchs
It's possible that a few more Untold Cases are mentioned in The Canon than are listed here, and possibly others can be teased out by interpreting Watson's writings in a new way. (If you see any that I've missed, please let me know!) Luckily for all of us, the Tin Dispatch Box holds many adventures, and is nowhere near being empty.
©David Marcum 2019 – All Rights Reserved
David Marcum plays The Game with deadly seriousness. He first discovered Sherlock Holmes in 1975 at the age of ten, and since that time, he has collected, read, and chronologicized literally thousands of traditional Holmes pastiches in the form of novels, short stories, radio and television episodes, movies and scripts, comics, fan-fiction, and unpublished manuscripts. He is the author of over sixty Sherlockian pastiches, some published in anthologies and magazines such as The Strand, and others collected in his own books, The Papers of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes and A Quantity of Debt, and Sherlock Holmes – Tangled Skeins. He has edited over fifty books, including several dozen traditional Sherlockian anthologies, such as the ongoing series The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories, which he created in 2015. This collection is now up to 21 volumes, with several more in preparation. He was responsible for bringing back August Derleth’s Solar Pons for a new generation, first with his collection of authorized Pons stories, The Papers of Solar Pons, and then by editing the reissued authorized versions of the original Pons books. He is now doing the same for the adventures of Dr. Thorndyke. He has contributed numerous essays to various publications, and is a member of a number of Sherlockian groups and Scions. He is a licensed Civil Engineer, living in Tennessee with his wife and son. His irregular Sherlockian blog, A Seventeen Step Program, addresses various topics related to his favorite book friends (as his son used to call them when he was small), and can be found at http://17stepprogram.blogspot.com/ Since the age of nineteen, he has worn a deerstalker as his regular-and-only hat. In 2013, he and his deerstalker were finally able make his first trip-of-a-lifetime Holmes Pilgrimage to England, with return Pilgrimages in 2015 and 2016, where you may have spotted him. If you ever run into him and his deerstalker out and about, feel free to say hello!
His Amazon Author Page can be found at:
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