“Ha! the stars are out and the wind has fallen. What do you say to a ramble through London?”‘The Resident Patient’ in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1893)
Jonathan Cranfield is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature & Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University. He is the author of Twentieth-Century Victorian: Arthur Conan Doyle and the Strand Magazine, 1891-1930, the co-editor of Fan Phenomena: Sherlock Holmes and has published a number of articles on periodicals, popular fiction, science and early cinema. He currently sits on the editorial board for the Edinburgh Edition of the Works of Arthur Conan Doyle.
I am delighted to be editing The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes for the new EUP series. The Memoirs are often overlooked as a collection because their composition and reception tend to blur with that of the Adventures. Neverthless they have their own particular mixture of thematic and poetic qualities which reflect Conan Doyle’s changing social position, his family trauma and his increasingly dogmatic reaction against the character of Sherlock Holmes. My favourite quote from the collection is from early on in ’The Resident Patient’ when the frustration of a failed experiment forces Holmes and Watson out of the house:
“Ha! the stars are out and the wind has fallen. What do you say to a ramble through London?”
This unusually poetic request gives vent to the J. Alfred Prufrock component of Sherlock Holmes’s character and, amidst the workmanlike prose of the rest of the story, it shimmers on the page whenever I re-read it.