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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rex Stout's Mistake

Archie Goodwin, Nero Wolfe's "Watson," once mentioned having a picture of Sherlock Holmes over his desk. Rex Stout thought that was a mistake.

Stout, creator of Wolfe and Archie, was one of the original members of the Baker Street Irregulars and the author of that scandalous essay, "Watson Was a Woman."

He had his own Watson in the person of my late friend John McAleer, author of the authorized biography Rex Stout. In that magnificent work, McAleer recounts that on Aug. 12, 1969, Stout answered a number of questions, including:
Did Archie hang up the picture of Sherlock Holmes that is found over his desk, or did Wolfe put it there?
I was a damn fool to do it. Obviously it's always an artistic fault in any fiction to mention any other character in fiction. It should never be done.
Wolfe was one of the greatest of the 20th century's Great Detectives. In physical appearance and his armchair approach to crime solving, he reminds many Sherlockians of Mycroft Holmes.

But William S. Baring-Gould, author of Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street, The Annotated Sherlock Holmes, and Nero Wolfe of West Thirty-Fifth Street, maintained -- as did others -- that Nero Wolfe was the son of Sherlock Holmes and (who else?) Irene Adler. John T. Lescroart picked up this idea in Son of Holmes and Rasputin's Revenge, calling his protagonist Auguste Lupin, clearly a different name for the young man later known as Nero Wolfe.

And what did Stout say about that? He was asked repeatedly over the decades. Being a wise man , he always -- in various ways -- maintained a golden silence.

1 comment:

  1. It's been a long time since I've picked up Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street by Baring-Gould. Thanks, Dan, for bringing it to my attention. Great article.