Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rated P.G.

Kathi Taylor, on her blog (click here), has challenged me to a Wodehouseathon. I warn you, Taylor, I'm packing -- I have the complete works here (with the exception of the rare and elusive and expensive and un-reprinted By the Way book). I even have the appallingly-named Love Among the Chickens, and not just the Project Gutenberg version, either!

But to warm you up with some trivia: It's become a well-known, nay well-worn fact that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never had Sherlock Holmes say "Elementary, my dear Watson." The sleuth called his friend and chronicler "my dear Watson," and he used the phrase "it's elementary" somewhat long-sufferingly, but he never combined them into one.

I believe -- which means I can't be bothered to check -- that the complete phrase did pop up in the classic Basil Rathbone portrayals; but predating talking pictures, the earliest known published citation of "Elementary, my dear Watson" can be credited to . . .  P.G. Wodehouse, spoken by his first major series character Psmith, in Psmith, Journalist. This was published in the UK in 1915, but the stories on which it is based first appeared in a magazine called The Captain five years earlier, although I can't be sure if the phrase was used in this original version. (Which also means I can't be bothered to check, because I'm even boring myself now.)

1 comment:

  1. [rubbing hands together in glee]- Just as soon as I get back from CA, Beechey. Just you wait...