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The Case of Sherlock HolmesSecrets and Lies in Conan Doyle's Detective Fiction$
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Andrew Glazzard

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474431293

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474431293.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 23 May 2022

The Worst Man in London

The Worst Man in London

Chapter:
(p.103) Chapter 10 The Worst Man in London
Source:
The Case of Sherlock Holmes
Author(s):

Andrew Glazzard

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474431293.003.0011

Charles Augustus Milverton, blackmailer of society women in the 1904 story that bears his name, is assumed by critics to be based on a real person – but which real person is open to doubt. The favourite is Charles Augustus Howell, a larger-than-life associate of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (whose members knew him as ‘Owl’), friend to James McNeill Whistler and Algernon Charles Swinburne, and one-time secretary to John Ruskin. However, it is by no means established that Howell was, in Lancelyn Green’s words, a ‘scoundrel and blackmailer’. He certainly seems to have fallen out with a lot of people, but the more outlandish stories about his life and death – Oscar Wilde may be the source for the claim that Howell was found dying outside a Chelsea public house ‘with his throat cut and a ten shilling piece between his clenched teeth’ – may be urban myths rather than actual facts: his death certificate, for instance, records that he died of pneumonia.

Keywords:   London, Men, Blackmail, Milverton, Morality, Victims

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