Welcome! Like the book of the same name, this blog is an eclectic collection of Sherlockian scribblings based on more than a half-century of reading Sherlock Holmes. Please add your own thoughts. You can also follow me on Twitter @DanAndriacco and on my Facebook fan page at Dan Andriacco Mysteries. You might also be interested in my Amazon Author Page. My books are also available at Barnes & Noble and in all main electronic formats including Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks for the iPad.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Mysteries of Mrs. Hudson

Part of the fascination of the Sherlock Holmes canon is how little we really know about some of the major recurring characters.

Consider, for example, the most significant woman in the lives of Holmes and Dr. Watson -- their long-time landlady, Mrs. Hudson:
  • We don't know what she looks like.
  • We don't know how old she is -- she could be younger than the two men, for all we know.
  • We don't know her first name. (Vincent Starrett's widely accepted identification of her with the housekeeper Martha in "His Last Bow" is a sentimental favorite, but pure speculation.)
  • We don't know who Mr. Hudson was or what happened to him.
But maybe what we do know is more important: She was fond of Holmes, and probably the only landlady in the world who could have tolerated him as a tenant for all those years. Recall the opening of "The Adventure of the Dying Detective":

Mrs. Hudson, the landlady of Sherlock Holmes, was a long-suffering woman. Not only was her first-floor flat invaded at all hours by throngs of singular and often undesirable characters but her remarkable lodger showed an eccentricity and irregularity in his life which must have sorely tried her patience. His incredible untidiness, his addiction to music at strange hours, his occasional revolver practice within doors, his weird and often malodorous scientific experiments, and the atmosphere of violence and danger which hung around him made him the very worst tenant in London. On the other hand, his payments were princely. I have no doubt that the house might have been purchased at the price which Holmes paid for his rooms during the years that I was with him.

In the story that follows, the resident of 221A Baker Street gets one of her few speaking roles. Of the 15 stories in which she appears (including one where Watson gets her name wrong), it's the one where gets the most ink. It has been left to pastiche writers to occasionally give her an even bigger role.

But Holmes does heap high praise on her -- by his standards -- in "The Naval Treaty." "Her cuisine is a little limited," he says, "but she has as good an idea of breakfast as a Scotchwoman."

What's your favorite Mrs. Hudson story?

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