The Adventure of the Stradivarius: Violins in the Work of Arthur Conan Doyle and William Crawford Honeyman

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The violin, despite its fleeting appearances in the stories of Sherlock Holmes, has become prominently associated with the character of Sherlock in modern TV and film adaptions. While the violin is never investigated by Holmes in the stories, it is represented in more depth in a precursory detective story by William Crawford Honeyman: a Scottish author-musician, whose work appears to have influenced Arthur Conan Doyle’s tales of Sherlock Holmes. Honeyman’s short story The Romance of a Real Cremona of 1884 follows detective James McGovan as he traces and returns a stolen Stradivari violin and unravels its complex provenance. The importance of the violin’s inclusion in fictional works has been little discussed in scholarship. Here, the texts of Doyle and Honeyman serve as a lens through which to analyse the meaning of the violin during the Victorian era. By analysing the violin from an organological perspective, this article examines the violin’s prominence in nineteenth-century British domestic music-making, both as a fiscally and culturally valuable object. The final section of the article explores the meaning attached to, and created by, the violin in the stories of Doyle and Honeyman.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbervcaa024
Pages (from-to)54-71
JournalJournal of Victorian Culture
Issue number1
Early online date14 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

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