Thursday, December 16, 2010


Win Scott Eckert © 2008-2010
Farmerphile no. 12
Paul Spiteri and Win Scott Eckert, eds., Michael Croteau, publisher, April 2008

“The Farmerian Holmes”

by Win Scott Eckert

“These are much deeper waters than I had thought.”
—Sherlock Holmes
“The Adventure of the Reigate Squire”

Dedicated followers of this column know that Philip José Farmer’s Wold Newton Family originated in 1795 with a radioactive meteor and generations of cross-breeding, resulting in an extended tree of crimefighting adventurers, detectives, explorers, and arch-criminals. Casual followers of the mythos, however, may not be aware of the significant role the Canon of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales plays in the Wold Newton backstory outlined in Phil’s Tarzan Alive and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life.

Of course, Phil patterned his first biography, Tarzan Alive, on William S. Baring-Gould’s Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street. Phil also adopted Baring-Gould’s theory that detective Nero Wolfe was Sherlock Holmes’ son (Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street and Nero Wolfe of West 35th Street). In addition, Phil expanded the Holmes family tree by placing Sherlock Holmes as a descendant of Dr. Siger Holmes, who was present at the Wold Newton meteor strike, and postulating that Sir Denis Nayland Smith (the protagonist of Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu books) was Sherlock Holmes’ nephew.

The Sherlockian connections, however, are woven into the history of the Wold Newton Universe with a degree of complexity which transcends fictional genealogy. Phil’s initial tour-de-force Wold Newton essay, “A Case of a Case of Identity Recased, or, The Grey Eyes Have It” (Addendum 2, Tarzan Alive), is based on Professor H. W. Starr’s foray into Holmes-Tarzan scholarship, “A Case of Identity, or, The Adventure of the Seven Claytons” (The Baker Street Journal, New Series X, i, January 1960; reprinted in Addendum 1, Tarzan Alive). Starr sets the stage by suggesting that the hansom cab driver John Clayton from the Holmes novel The Hound of the Baskervilles, must be a member of a lineage in which all first sons are named John Clayton, and in fact the cab driver is the fifth Duke of Greyminster., Starr explains that Greyminster is the real name of the family called “Greystoke” in the Tarzan stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs; the family is also called “Holdernesse” in the Holmes tale “The Adventure of the Priory School.”

Tarzan’s father, of course, was named John Clayton, as was Tarzan himself. While it might initially seem ridiculous that a member of the nobility would choose to spend seven years as a London cabby, Starr makes a convincing case for John Clayton as enlightened radical, abandoning his wealth and title in a gesture of support for the underprivileged. Starr also proposes the Clayton genealogy, but as Phil makes some alterations in his follow-up, we’ll focus on Phil’s version.

Phil bolsters Starr’s contention that the fifth duke was the cabdriver by conflating the duke with Sydney Trefusis, the protagonist of George Bernard Shaw’s An Unsocial Socialist. He then explains that the fifth duke was the father of John Clayton, who was married to Alice Rutherford. These were Tarzan’s parents, who were lost at sea and presumed dead in 1888, as told in Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes. Shortly thereafter, in 1889, the fifth duke was murdered and the title passed to his brother, the sixth duke.

In May 1901, the sixth duke’s son, Arthur, Lord Saltire, was kidnapped and Sherlock Holmes was called in to solve the case. Dr. Watson and his editor Doyle memorialized the incident as “The Adventure of the Priory School,” calling the sixth duke the “Duke of Holdernesse.” The sixth duke’s illegitimate son, James Wilder, was involved in the crime and immediately left England. Phil tells us that Arthur was later known as “William Clayton,” the seventh Duke of Greystoke and a cousin to Tarzan (John Clayton), as seen in Tarzan of the Apes and The Return of Tarzan (which collectively cover events occurring 1909-1910). In Tarzan Alive, Phil explains that his real name was William Cecil Arthur Clayton.

When William Clayton was killed at the conclusion of The Return of Tarzan, the title passed to Tarzan, the grandson of the fifth duke. Tarzan became the eighth Duke of Greystoke.

Phil also edited one of Watson’s Sherlock Holmes manuscripts, publishing it as a novel under the title The Adventure of the Peerless Peer. The novel resolves a lingering question raised by Phil’s researches in Tarzan Alive: how did Tarzan respond to the publicity surrounding the discovery that he, an English peer, had been raised by apes? The answer, as Holmes deduces in 1916, is that Tarzan avoided the issue. In order to save himself unwanted attention, he passed himself off as the late seventh duke, William Clayton, whom he resembled greatly. Thus, although Tarzan was legitimately the eighth duke, he was known to the world as the seventh duke, William Clayton.
Holmes garners a hefty fee from Tarzan in exchange for his and Watson’s silence on this matter.

In Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, Phil explains that three years after the Priory School case, in 1904, the sixth duke hired Holmes to check up on his wayward son, James Wilder. Phil gives us Wilder’s real name, James Clarke Wildman, and we learn that Wildman is the father of pulp hero “Doc Savage” (James Clarke Wildman, Jr.). And the sixth duke’s estranged wife, named as “Edith Appledore” in “Priory School”? According to Phil, her real name was Edith Jansenius and she was the woman Holmes and Watson secretly observed eliminating the “worst man in London” in Watson and Doyle’s “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton.”

Phil’s reprinting of excerpts from Burke’s Peerage (Addendum 3, Tarzan Alive) lists Edith as deceased, June 1907. However, a partial manuscript and outline entitled The Evil in Pemberley House, recently unearthed from a filing cabinet in the basement of Phil’s house in Peoria, demonstrates that Edith, the dowager Duchess of Greystoke, was alive as late as Spring 1973, age 103. In the manuscript, the dowager duchess encounters Patricia Wildman, the granddaughter her late husband’s illegitimate son, James Wildman. Sparks ensue. In “Further Sketches from the Ruins of My Mind!” by Robert R. Barrett (Farmerphile no. 11, January), my fellow Creative Mythographer states that Doc Wildman (or Doc Savage, if you prefer) shared his life with his cousin, Pat Savage, rather than marrying a former con-woman as stated in Pemberley House. Mr. Barrett speculates that Phil created the Pemberley House manuscript as a fictional element designed to protect Pat Savage, concluding that, “We will probably never know!”
With respect to my fellow Farmerphile contributor, I believe that we probably will know. It’s clear that Phil discovered the information in Pemberley House while interviewing Patricia Wildman during preparation of the book Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life. While Phil is a trickster and has been known to plant small misdirecting bits of information (such as the June 1907 death of Edith Jansenius), I doubt he would devote the time and effort to writing several false chapters and a fake outline, and then effectively bury them in his basement for thirty-plus years, with a goal of creating disinformation to protect Pat Savage. When and if the Pemberley House manuscript is completely reconstructed, readers will see that the document is consistent with the overarching Wold Newton mythos and Sherlockian backstory, and will be able to make their own determination.

It should also be noted that in Pemberley House, Patricia Wildman encounters Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Fu Manchu on the train from London to the village of Lambton in Derbyshire. Recalling that Pemberley House takes place in early 1973, it’s obvious the Royal Jelly life-extension elixir which Baring-Gould posited that Holmes developed was quite effective. Of course Fu Manchu also had his own immortality brew, called the Elixir of Life.

The Other Log of Phileas Fogg is another prominent entry by Phil which relies and builds upon the Holmesian Canon. In fact, the primary villain is none other than the man who would go on to become Holmes’ arch-nemesis, Professor James Moriarty. The premise (lifted from Professor H. W. Starr) that Professor Moriarty was also the man called “Captain Nemo” in Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues under the Sea is certainly controversial, as is the dismissal of Verne’s sequel, The Mysterious Island, as completely fictional. Even if one disagrees with that premise, however, the novel can still be interpreted as a Moriarty adventure, with references not only to the villainous Professor, but also his brother, Colonel Moriarty (also named James) from Watson and Doyle’s “The Final Problem.”
As long as we’re discussing Professor Moriarty, it’s worth noting here the daughter that Phil created, Urania Moriarty, to help fill a genealogical slot. In Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, Phil speculated that Urania was married to John Clay from Watson and Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Red-Headed League.” Phil informs us that Clay was the son of the Countess Cagliostro and Sir William Clayton. Sir William Clayton was the uncle of John Clayton, the fifth duke and erstwhile cabby from Hound (more on the prolific Sir William later). John Clay was the same person as Colonel Clay, the master of disguise in Grant Allan’s An African Millionaire. According to Phil, John Clay and Urania Moriarty were the parents of Dr. Caber, Joseph Jorkens’ nemesis in stories by Lord Dunsany, and Carl Peterson, Bulldog Drummond’s archenemy from the novels by H. C. “Sapper” McNeile.

Phil also edited another manuscript of a Holmes adventure, but one not originally set down by Watson. Rather, this tale was recorded by master cracksman A. J. Raffles’ amanuensis, Harry “Bunny” Manders. The case is “The Problem of the Sore Bridge—Among Others” and it provides the solution to the disappearance of “Mr. James Phillimore, who, stepping back into his own house to get his umbrella, was never more seen in this world.” Phillimore’s vanishing act is mentioned in Watson and Doyle’s “The Problem of Thor Bridge.” Both Peerless Peer and “Sore Bridge” were recently reprinted in the collection Venus on the Half-Shell and Others (Subterranean Press, 2008).

Phil also began to edit another Holmes manuscript, but sadly never completed the process. Typed and handwritten notes (again from the treasure chest that is the filing cabinet in the basement) indicate that the untold tale “Sherlock Holmes in Mecca,” taking place during the period of Holmes’ global travels from May 1891-April 1894 known as “the Great Hiatus,” was a whopper, which Holmes teaming with Ludovick “Sandy” Gustavus Arbuthnot’s uncle on an Arabian mission assigned by Sherlock’s older brother, Mycroft Holmes. Sandy Arbuthnot is from the Richard Hannay series of novels by John Buchan. The “Mecca” case may have involved the Islamic holy relic, the Black Stone. In typically humorous fashion, Phil’s notes contain some possible alternate titles: “The Adventure of the Meccan Mechanic”; “The Adventure of the Mute Meccan”; “The Adventure of the Huge Haji”; “The Adventure of the Copped Kaaba”; and “The Adventure of the Half-Arsed Hafiz” are but a few examples. Perhaps some day an intrepid Farmerian Sherlockian will piece this case together.

Mixed in with Phil’s notes for “Mecca” is a final page which reads: “SH & JW investigate the Loch Ness Monster.” Intriguing, although this would not have been related to the “Mecca” case, since during the time of the Great Hiatus, Dr. John Watson thought Holmes was dead. An elderly Holmes and Watson also make a small cameo appearance in Doc Savage and the Cult of the Blue God (originally titled Doc Savage: Archenemy of Evil), the screen treatment Phil wrote in the 1970s for the second, and unfilmed, Doc Savage motion picture.

One of Phil’s more outré Sherlockian outings is the short story “A Scarletin Study.” Here, he edits Jonathan Swift Somers III’s manuscript of the first case of the genius talking canine detective Ralph von Wau Wau. Wheels within wheels, Somers is also an editor, the case actually being written in first person by Dr. Weisstein. The beginning of the tale parallels in humorous and exacting detail Watson and Doyle’s first Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet, with Ralph standing in for Holmes and Weisstein filling the Watson role. The Ralph von Wau Wau stories take place in the Wold Newton Universe, as Phil incorporated the canine genius in Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life. Both Cult of the Blue God and “A Scarletin Study” were most recently published in the collection Pearls from Peoria (Subterranean Press, 2006).
Although Phil devoted several volumes of writing to his heroes Tarzan and Doc Savage, his lifelong fascination with Sherlock Holmes obviously runs through many of his works. It’s a fascination he’s passed on to many post-Farmerian Wold Newton writers as well.

In my own “Who’s Going to Take Over the World When I’m Gone?” (Myths for the Modern Age: Philip José Farmer’s Wold Newton Universe, MonkeyBrain Books, 2005), I devote a whole section to the lineage of “The Malevolent Moriartys.” Dennis E. Power reconciled two different version of Phil’s Sherlock Homes crossover novel (the Holmes-Tarzan Peerless Peer and the Holmes-Mowgli The Adventure of the Three Madmen) in his essay “Jungle Brothers, or, Secrets of the Jungle Lords” (Myths). Rick Lai added characters from the works of John Buchan and Robert Louis Stevenson to the Moriarty family in “The Secret History of Captain Nemo” (Myths). Brad Mengel’s “Watching the Detectives, or, The Sherlock Holmes Family Tree” (Myths) goes a few steps further, creating a whole tree for the Holmes family, using Phil’s work as the jumping-off point.

Speaking of Myths for the Modern Age, and returning to Phil’s own investigations into the Sherlockian Canon, another brief but effective bit of research is his “The Two Lord Ruftons” (originally published in the Baker Street Journal, December 1971; reprinted in Myths). In this essay, Phil discusses the Lord Rufton who is the father of the title character in Watson and Doyle’s “The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax,” and the Lord Rufton in Doyle’s Brigadier Gerard story “How He Triumphed in England.” Phil concludes that the Lord Rufton in the Gerard tale is the grandfather of Lady Frances Carfax. The Wold Newtonian connections should be noted. In Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, Phil placed Brigadier Gerard as a distant (and non-Wold Newton irradiated) ancestor of James Bond. The Carfaxes also appear in the reproduction of the Greystoke lineage from Burke’s Peerage (Addendum 3, Tarzan Alive):

He [Sir William Clayton] m. 4th 1832 Lorina, dau. of Lord Dacre by Jane Carfax, dau. of Lord Rufton, and by her had issue,

1. Phileas, b. 1832, and

2. Roxana, b. 1833.

His wife divorced William in 1835 and m. Sir Heraclitus Fogg [Bt.], an eccentric inventor and owner of a vast estate, Fogg Shaw, in Derbyshire. Sir Heraclitus adopted his two stepchildren, William not objecting.

Additionally, in Phil’s novel Traitor to the Living, Professor Gordon Carfax (who is the same person formerly known as private detective “Herald Child” in Phil’s Image of the Beast and Blown) has an uncle named Rufton Carfax. Rufton Carfax is likely descended from Lord Rufton from “Lady Frances Carfax.”

I would be remiss indeed if I didn’t mention Phil’s short essay “What Happened to Black Michael?” (Addendum 4, Tarzan Alive; based on an original idea by Dale L. Walker; developed by John Harwood; additional notes by Farmer). In this piece, Phil reconciles the sailor Black Michael from Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes with a ship’s captain, Black Peter Carey, from Watson and Doyle’s “The Adventure of Black Peter,” providing yet another connection between the Canon and the Tarzanic Epic. Phil also informs us that Peter Michael Carey was responsible for the murder of the fifth Duke of Greystoke.

Phil concludes with the following paragraph:
Be it also noted that Holmes, strong as he was, could not drive a harpoon all the way through the body of a pig. He concluded that the man who pinned Carey to the wall with a harpoon was very strong and probably a professional harpooner. Cairns [a character in “Black Peter”] was such, but he would have had to use both hands to do it. Tarzan, of course, could have performed the feat with one hand and without drawing on all his strength.

“The Adventure of Black Peter,” in which Holmes investigates Black Peter’s murder, takes place in July 1895. Tarzan was born in November 1888. On the one hand, Phil’s final remark is meant to reinforce our image and understanding of Tarzan’s enormous strength. On the other hand, it seems odd for him to mention that Tarzan “could have performed the feat” when Tarzan was less than eight years old and living undiscovered in the African jungle, being raised by apes. My fellow Creative Mythographer, Christopher Paul Carey, has remarked on this curiosity to me and is currently probing his family records for further information on his infamous relative. A mystery remains, one worthy of Holmes himself.

Deep waters, indeed.