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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Horace Harker, Journalist

Many of us have a fondness for some relatively minor characters that we would gladly have read more about in the Canon. One of my favorites in this category is Horace Harker of the Central News Syndicate.

You will recall that the unfortunate Mr. Harker found himself in a journalistic pickle in "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons." In his own words:

"All my life I have been collecting other people's news, and now that a real piece of news has come my own way, I am so confused and bothered that I can't put two words together."

James Edward Holroyd, a chairman and founding member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, wrote sympathetically about Horace Harker in Baker Street By-Ways. A journalist himself (as I once was), Mr. Holroyd gives H.H. a couple of pages in a chapter called "A Baker Street Portrait Gallery."

He asked some interesting questions, but not the ones I wonder about. For example:

What did Horace Harker write about when he wasn't so confused and bothered?

Did he recover enough to write about the Six Napoleons affair as the case proceeded?

Did his brush with Sherlock Holmes inspire him to follow the consulting detective's subsequent career?

What was the trajectory of his own future career in journalistm? Did he rise to an executive position in the Central News Syndicate?

I think the latter question, in particular, deserves investigation.

Who is your favorite minor character in the Canon?

1 comment:

  1. I also wondered about Horace Harker but he came across to me as one of those 'bad' journalists that only cared about the story and nothing about humanity. I did give him the benefit of the doubt - who knows how they'd react in a horrifying situation? What you would say that might be taken wrong? That made me wonder what kind of stories he wrote before and then after - so I could get a clear picture of who he was. As it stood, he seemed like one of those 'National Enquirer' type writers.

    I liked Violet Smith (from 'The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist'). Would you be scared enough of a strange man following you on a bicycle on an empty country road that you seek the services of Sherlock Holmes and then the next time it happens and you're completely alone you stop riding your bike, turn around and follow the man?! She always impressed me.