Stillman Drake,
Lynx-Eyed Historian of Science

The Works of Porlock

Porlock was the Canonical name of Stillman Drake, given him when he was made free of The Scowrers, which is the organization devoted to the study of the Sherlock Holmes canon in San Francisco.

In his spare time, when not working at his day job in municipal finance at the investment banking firm of Blyth & Co.1, Porlock composed a few essays on Sherlockian subjects. He also found time to write some other papers, which made possible his mid-life career change: taking a professorship at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto.

Some of the latter papers are available in book form.2 But the works of Porlock have not been widely circulated, although one of them, "The Camberwell Poisoning Case", is to be found in West by One and by One, privately printed in 1965 by the Scowrers and the Trained Cormorants of Los Angeles. Here, collected for the first time, are all four of the known works of Porlock.

A Fiddling Distinction

How did Holmes manage make musical sounds on his fiddle when it was on his knees? Just how much did he know of Orlando di Lasso (alias Lassus)? What would he have thought of the modern Authentic Performance Movement(tm)?

The Camberwell Poisoning Case

It's all very well to wind up a dead man's watch, but just how many additional assumptions do you need to make in order to prove that he went to bed within two hours past? And who was the victim whose demise in Camberwell was investigated so promptly by Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street?

A Mad High-Tea Party

This, the most lightweight of the pieces, describes a little-known incident associated with the terrible happenings at Birlstone Manor. At the same time it gives a full account of one of Holmes's most famous inferences.

A Letter to The Times

Dark waters indeed, Watson!

1 Later merged into Blyth, Eastman Dillon.3

2 Essays on Galileo and the History of Science, ed. N. M. Swerdlow & T. H. Levere, 3 vols., University of Toronto Press, 1999

3 Later merged into Paine Webber.4

4 Currently part of UBSPaineWebber.

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