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Data! Data! Data! – The Creeping Man

Data! Data! Data! – The Creeping Man

“‘Data! Data! Data!‘ he cried impatiently. ‘I can’t make bricks without clay.’”

– The Adventures of The Copper Beeches (COPP)

Howard K. Elcock - The Strand Magazine - March 1923
Howard K. Elcock – The Strand Magazine – March 1923

This column is composed of material (Data!) developed for a short course called Appreciating Sherlock Holmes that I teach twice a year in the Community Education Life Enrichment Program for a local community college.  It is composed of “points of information” that are common to many / most / all of the 60 Canonical stories.

The information here has been researched by me or borrowed / stolen from many efforts of other Sherlockians.

This month’s story tip toes gently into the area of Science Fiction.  Shade of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Medical pharmacology was too late with Viagra for the Professor.

HERE GOES      This month’s story The Adventure of the Creeping Man

CHRISTOPHER MORLEY SAID . . .Morley Large

Holmes was ahead of his time in foreseeing the uses of dogs in detective work, and this case was another of the instances of “the peculiar behavior of the dog in the night-time.”  Why did Professor Presbury’s faithful wolfhound attempt to attack his master?  The solution lay in some dangerous experiments in modern medicine which made Holmes dubious about the future.  He was already (this was 1903) thinking of “that little farm of my dreams.”

SH4DummiesDUMMIES SHORT SUMMARY (From Sherlock Holmes for Dummies by Steven Doyle & David Crowder) says:  This story has a dash of science fiction in it.  When an aging professor begins treating himself with a mysterious serum, he undergoes a startling transformation!

PUBLISHING HISTORY

  • This story is the 51st of the stories to be published
  • It was first published in the Stand Magazine on March, 1923
  • In the U.S. it was published in Hearst’s International Magazine on March, 1923
  • It was part of The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes collection published in England by John Murray, London, 1927, and in the United States by George D. Doran, New York, 1927
  • The British illustrator was Howard K. Elcock and the U.S. illustrator was Frederick Dorr Steele

HOW MANY WORDS?

According to C. E. Lauderback, 1960 – – found on SHERLOCKIAN.NET website of Chris Redmond

At 7,726 words CREE has the 24th most words (#1 is VEIL – 4,499, #56 if NAVL – 12,701)

THE BEST OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (How do Sherlockians rate this story?)

  • 1927 – Arthur Conan Doyle – Not on list of 12 favorites
  • 1959 – Baker Street Irregulars – 55 on list of least favorites
  • 1999 – Sherlock Holmes Society of London – 46 of 56

CLASSIFYING THE CASE (From the Wandering Gipsies of Grimpen Mire of Decatur, Alabama)

This case is one of 7 classified as fear of physical harm or public scandal. The others were COPP, GLOR, TWIS, SUSS, SCAN, & 3STU.

CHRONOLOGICALLY SPEAKING

Doyle was often very vague about stating WHEN the tale took place and included few contemporary references to help.  Whether this was done intentionally or unthinkingly, the dating of events in the Canon is a very popular pastime pursued by several of our “scholars” researching and justifying their results to no end.  We will again default to William Baring-Gould’s dating of Sunday, September 6 to Monday, September 14 and Tuesday, September 22, 1903 making it the 58th of the 60 stories in time.  This means that Holmes is 49 and Watson 51.

WHAT ELSE HAPPENED IN YEAR?

It is always interesting to see what else in happening at the same time as the stories. This time they will be in chronological in lieu of being random – 1903 had a lot of historic firsts.

  • January 19 – New bicycle race “Tour de France” announced
  • January 22 – The Hay-Herran Treaty concerning the USA’s right to the Panama Canal is signed by the Colombian Charge d’affaires in Washington, D.C. (never ratified)
  • February 14 – U.S. Departments of Commerce and Labor are formed
  • February 23 – The U.S. and Cuba sign an agreement by which Cuba releases Guantanamo and Bahia Hondo to the U.S. for naval stations
  • March 3 – North Carolina becomes first state requiring registration of nurses
  • March 22 – Niagara Falls runs out of water because of a drought
  • May 23 – 1st automobile trip across U.S. from San Francisco to New York
  • May 29 – May coup d’etat: Alexander Obrenovich, King of Serbia, and Queen Draga, are assassinated in Belgrade by the Black Hand (Crna Ruka) organization.
  • June 2 – Pirates win a triple header from Dodgers
  • June 16 – Ford Motors under Henry Ford incorporates
  • June 16 – Pepsi Cola company forms
  • July 1 – First Tour de France bicycle race beginspiusxcoatofarms14_1
  • July 20 – Giuseppe Sarto elected Pope Pius X, known as the ‘Pope of the poor and humble’
  • August 2 – Unsuccessful uprising of Macedonians against Turkey
  • August 17 – Joe Pulitzer donated $1 million to Columbia University & begins Pulitzer Prizes
  • September 21 – First cowboy film “Kit Carson” premieres in US
  • October 1 – 1st baseball World Series, Pittsburgh Pirates vs Boston Pilgrims (Red Sox)
  • November 3 – Colombia grants independence to Panama
  • December 9 – Norwegian parliament votes unanimously for female suffragenc quarter
  • December 10 – Nobel for physics awarded to Pierre and Marie Curie
  • December 13 – Wright Brothers make first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

HOLMES AND WATSON – PERSONAL INFO

Watson was dramatically summoned to 221B with an iconic message from Holmes. Was Watson a widower now?  There are so many thoughts on this.

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

  • PROFESSOR PRESBURY, 61 year old physiologist with an international reputation.
  • ALICE MORPHY, his fiance and his junior by about 40 years.
  • EDITH PRESBURY, his daughter by a former marriage. She is engaged to …
  • TREVOR “JACK” BENNETT, Professor Presbury’s professional assistant and personal secretary.
  • PROFESSOR MORPHY, holds the chair of comparative anatomy and is Professor Presbury’s colleague and possible future father-in-law.
  • ROY, the Presbury’s wolfhound
  • LOWENSTEIN, physiologist in Prague who supplied a serum to Presbury via the agent…
  • DORAK, Lowenstein’s agent in London, a Bohemian with a large general store.
  • MERCER, an assistant of Holmes who does some of the leg work.
  • MACPHAIL, able-bodied coachman of the Presbury’s

“QUOTABLE SHERLOCK”

creepingNot a lot that is quotable but the first is legendary.

  • “Come at once if convenient – if inconvenient come all the same.”
  • “You never learn that the gravest issues may depend upon the smallest things.”
  • “Always look at the hands first, Watson. Then cuffs, trouser knees, and boots.”

 

SHERLOCK ON THE BIG SCREEN & THE LITTLE SCREEN

Only three times has CREE graced the screen. It hasn’t been done by Eille Norwood, nor Basil Rathbone.

  • 1991 The Creeping Man, Holmes was played by Jeremy Brett in the Granada television series.
  • 1992 Šplhající Profesor (The Climbing Professor), a Czech TV movie with Viktor Preiss as Holmes
  • 2001 The Adventure of the Creeping Man was an episode of Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century (Animated TV series)

HOLMES’ PUBLISHED & PROJECTED WORKS

Sherlockians love this topic and are regularly searching for these items. Holmes mentions published or projected works in 11 of the stories:

On the Use of Dogs in Detective Work –  Projected

ANNOTATED SHERLOCK

The 60 Sherlock Holmes stories used English as spoken in England from the 1880’s until the 1910’s.  Some words are foreign to us today and need a “contemporary translation.”  For example:

  • “a tangled skein” – This was originally ACD’s title for A Study in Scarlet.
  • “a cannula” – A tube to be inserted into a cavity, through which pus may be drained or medicine induced.
  • “lumbago” – rheumatism of the lumbar muscles in the lower back, frequently caused by a muscle strain or a slipped disc
  • “alienist” – a psychiatrist;  from the French aliéene, meaning insane

WEAPONS (from A Compendium of Canonical Weaponry by Dettman and Bedford)

So many things can be considered “weapons” that only 2 or 3 tales fail to have at least one.  This month’s story CREE along with 3STU and YELL are the exceptions.

2015-03-30 10.41.54Frank Mentzel, aka Merridew of Abominable Memory, is the current Gasogene of the Six Napoleons of Baltimore. His Appreciating Sherlock Holmes classes for the Community Colleges of Baltimore County, MD will begin again on February 29th. He survived the recent blizzard with a well stocked freezer, with assorted red meats and ice cream, as well as a full liquor cabinet.

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