Many early pastiches can be consigned to the realm of parody. For example, an early series, written by R. C. Lehmann under the pseudonym of Cunnin Toil, recounts the adventures of a detective named Picklock Holes and his friend Potson. The first of these stories, “The Bishop’s Crime,” appeared in Punch in August, 1893. Seven other stories followed. During that same year, Doyle and his friend James M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, wrote Jane Annie, a musical play that was produced in London. Unfortunately for the two of them, it was a colossal flop. Afterward, Barrie wrote a story titled “The Adventure of the Two Collaborators,” in which both he and Doyle are characters who consult Sherlock Holmes to find out the reason for their theatrical failure. Not liking the answer the detective finds for them, Doyle transforms Holmes into a puff of smoke.
Holmes has occasionally turned up in other strange settings. For example, John Kendrick Bangs’s Pursuit of the House Boat (1897), the second part of his trilogy about the dead, concerns a boat, which is home to the souls of such people as Socrates, Noah, Napoleon, and Confucius, that is taken by Captain Kidd from its moorings on the River Styx. The victims eventually hire Sherlock Holmes to help them; he ingeniously finds the boat and restores order to the world of the dead. One might wonder why Holmes was among the dead, but at the time of the novel’s publication, Holmes was believed by all to have met his demise at the foot of the Reichenbach Falls.
Other well-known authors have followed. Bret Harte wrote “The Stolen Cigar Case” in 1902, featuring the detective Hemlock Jones. Nine years later, O. Henry wrote about “The Adventures of Shamrock Jolnes.” Other names that have been used include Thinlock Bones, Sherlaw Kombs, and numerous other plays on “Sherlock Holmes.” What makes stories about such characters work is the fact that readers are already familiar with Sherlock Holmes and recognize him even when he appears under...
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