56 Stories in 56 Days – The Gloria Scott

This story is of importance because it documents Holmes’ first case, of sorts, writes Charlotte Anne Walters.

In The Gloria Scott we hear about how a young Holmes went to stay with a college friend, his only friend at the time, and made some astute observations to his father causing the old man to faint.

There then comes a strange old drunkard to visit, a rude man of nautical persuasion who obviously knows a secret which the father wishes to hide and blackmails him into offering employment.  Interestingly, it is the father who suggests to Holmes a career as a detective and sets him on the path which we all know so well.  It is also interesting that even in his early life, Holmes was antisocial.  Victor Trevor was, by his own admission, Holmes’ only friend at college and we are treated to an interesting insight into Holmes’ early personality – ‘I was never a very sociable fellow, Watson, always rather fond of moping in my rooms and working out my own little methods of thought, so that I never mixed much with the men of my year’.

Victor was also friendless; Holmes is clearly drawn to loners and those on the outside of society.  Watson too was friendless when they first met having just arrived in the capital fresh from a military campaign.  This is why, in my own novel, when looking at the issue of what kind of woman could capture Holmes’ heart, I concluded that he would only feel drawn to someone who was also on the outside of normal society, an eccentric outcast.  There has always been something a bit too normal about Irene Adler for me.

There is another Birmingham reference in this story but only a passing mention and not a very positive one.  Old Mr Trevor’s daughter had visited the city, caught diphtheria and died.  Not one to shout about for us Brummies.

It turns out that Mr Trevor senior was once a convict on board a ship bound for Australia and, along with fellow prisoners, took control of the vessel and escaped.  The old sailor who turns up at the house whilst Holmes is staying there was one of the crew and threatens to reveal his secret.  Holmes doesn’t actually do anything to help matters as Mr Trevor dies of a weak heart and leaves his son a letter revealing all.  Not really a first case then, more of a being-in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time sort of thing.

I do always feel a little short changed when Holmes doesn’t save the day and did find this story a bit too far-fetched.  I also missed having Watson’s usual involvement.  Just 5 out of 10 I’m afraid.  Husband has just looked over my shoulder and feels this mark was a bit harsh, but that’s because he had confused the story with the naval treaty so not a valid opinion really.  Sorry Tim.  My blog, my marks – especially if you can’t even get the stories right!

About barefootonbakerstreet

Author from Shropshire
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3 Responses to 56 Stories in 56 Days – The Gloria Scott

  1. cim902 says:

    I know this has been challenging to keep up, with your job and family, but I do look forward to it, and today it was a bright spot in what is truly turning out to be a craptastic day. I liked this story, mainly because it’s fun to imagine what Holmes was like as a young man, but I was also disappointed that the ending wasn’t happier. As an American, it’s always interesting to me to see all the stories that reference India and Australia–to get glimpses of the British Empire, and an idea of what life then would have been like–what would have seemed commonplace, the way mentions of the Civil War and the frontier expansion are to us.

  2. I think the thing about Irene Adler for Holmes was that although she was thought of as a wicked woman (on account of her sexual transgressions) she actually turned out to be more virtuous than the King. Holmes admired women of virtue and intelligence: simple as that. Personally I couldn’t imagine him falling for a ruthless criminal like your “Red”, who killed people without hesitation or regret, and doesn’t really come across as terribly bright.

    I agree that the glimpse of the unsociable Holmes at University is very interesting; and it rather fits with the idea that he suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome.

  3. Janice says:

    As someone who is reading ‘Barefoot on Baker Street’, I have to refute your comments about ‘Red’. I feel that you have totally misunderstood the character and how she is being portrayed. She is a women, like any other woman on her own, trying to survive in life, dealing with things that are put in her way, albeit in a violent manner sometimes. But this is is the only way she knows, as this is the life that was chosen for her. I actually see her as a very bright person, very vulnerable and deep down very caring, someone to which Holmes would be attracted. She has certainly brought me close to tears on a few occasions.

    A book that makes you want to keep turning the pages!!

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