A visual exploration of time paradoxes in Dr. Watson’s chronicles of Sherlock Holmes stories
“But there can be no grave for Sherlock Holmes or Watson… Shall they not always live on Baker Street? Are they not there this instant, as one writes?… Outside, the hansoms rattle through the rain, and Moriarty plans his latest devilry. Within, the sea-coal flames upon the hearth, and Holmes and Watson take their well-won ease… So they still live for all that love them well: in a romantic chamber of the heart: in a nostalgic country of the mind: where it is always 1895.”
— Vincent Starrett, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
Vincent Starrett concluded his essay 221B in the 1933 book The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes with the sentiment of a fan, one that perfectly echoes all Sherlockians through time and space over the last century. Today, fans continue to write new adventures and analyze metatextual implications about the famous sleuth. Many fictional characters inspire fervent followings, but believers of Sherlock Holmes take their fannish activities earnestly since the Victorian era. There are four hundred and nineteen official Sherlockian societies currently active in the world. The Great Games, a pastime of attempting to interpret implied details within Arthur Conan Doyle’s canon is still in play.
In writing The Speckled Band, Doyle realized that he could no longer maintain the chronological sequence of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Since then, the dedicated devotees, who are now referred to as Sherlockians, have puzzled or argued long and hard over the dating and “true chronology” of the tales. In the words of the famous detective: “You know my methods. Apply them.” Sherlock Holme’s combination of analytical reasoning and imaginative insight is, in fact, an act of making meaning. This interactive timeline explores the junctures between the sixty canon stories, ninety-six untold stories, the dates of the case, Dr. Watson’s pen, and of publication, in an attempt to gain insight and analyze patterns of Dr. Watson’s art of storytelling.
Yachun conducted this data visualization exercise while studying at Cornish College of the Arts in 2016.
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