“A Study in Lavender: Queering Sherlock Holmes” edited by Joseph R.G. DeMarco— What Really Went On

DeMarco, Joseph R.G. (editor) “A Study in Lavender: Queering Sherlock Holmes”, Lethe Press, 2011.

What Really Went on

Amos Lassen

The idea that there were queer goings on with Sherlock Holmes is not new and in this anthology we hear about the great detective and “the love that dare not speak its name”. Sherlock Holmes has held a special spot in English literature and many of us grew hearing stories of what he did. DeMarco brings us a collection of Sherlock Holmes story that show his queer side. In his introduction he looks at the stories of Sherlock Holmes and states that “Casual readers have wondered. So have scholars”. Certainly it is an issue that can be thought about and debated and the questions have been around since the publication of the first Holmes story in 1887. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never attempts to disguise the relationship between Holmes and Watson—they share rooms and their lives are “intertwined” so that one cannot function without the other. Watson continues visiting Holmes after both of his marriages and the two men often exchange intimate looks.  There are other “clues” as well. Holmes never married and neither did he show an interest in women. The friendship certainly seems to be based on more than just being friends.

In this collection of stories there is little doubt that Holmes was gay and Watson as well. For some of you this may not be new while for others there are cries of surprise but the real purpose of these stories is for entertainment and the sexuality of the characters is really not that important unless you want it to be.

There are eleven stories have a variety of writers including one by the editor himself and another by the wonderful Ruth Sims. Do not let the sexuality of the characters change your opinion and I say this because Holmes has become so popular that I would hate for future readers to not have a chance to enjoy them. Sherlock Holmes has for so long taken us to new places and if there was something between Holmes and Watson, it should not matter. The authors in this collection have made up stories in which Holmes and Watson are lovers or they are on a case which involves members of the gay community and with them we get a look at the laws of Victorian England and see that is was not as Victorian as thought.




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