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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

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

Andrew Glazzard

Edinburgh University Press

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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