Since a while back there was interest when I mentioned old school Sherlock Holmes fandom not being so wildly different from our own, I’m going to attempt to remember to document some examples now and then. Here’s one.
At the start of Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel The Valley of Fear, Holmes received a coded message warning him about Moriarty’s plans from someone using the pseudonym ”Fred Porlock.” We never learned Porlock’s true identity, so of course people later tried to
guess deduce it.
Leslie S. Klinger’s New Annotated Sherlock Holmes includes a discussion of various Porlock theories. Without going into the reasoning behind them (and being fully aware that some theories are more tongue-in-cheek than others), here’s the list of suspects I tallied up by the end of the essay:
- Mycroft Holmes
- Professor Moriarty
- Sebastian Moran
- Mrs. Hudson
- Colonel Moriarty (the professor’s brother)
- Station Master Moriarty (the questionably-canonical third Moriarty brother)
- Adolf Verloc (from a story by a completely different author)
- Mrs. Cecil Forrester (Mary Morstan’s former employer)
- Shinwell Johnson (former criminal who helped Holmes get information)
- one of Moriarty’s household staff
- the younger brother of Ivy Douglas (whose husband was being targeted by Moriarty)
- Sherlock Holmes (writing to himself cover up that he really got the info “from opium-created visions”)
Tell me that doesn’t look exactly like what happens whenever Tumblr tries to work that kind of thing out for BBC Sherlock.
So basically… they’re us. Or we’re them. Or we’re all Porlock, because why not.