Walt Whitman, S. L. Q.


3 Cases Solved by Sherlock Holmes

 Unique historical insights into Walt Whitman’s life and times that Mitchell Santine Gould (Curator, LeavesofGrass.Org) made over the course of three decades (Quaker History; Quaker Theology; Walt Whitman: an Encyclopedia; Gay and Lesbian Review, etc.) could only be solved more quickly by the likes of a Sherlock Holmes. So why not recruit the world’s greatest detective to unravel how and why Walt Whitman became the Spokesbard for the Sailors, Lovers, and Quakers who made New York our greatest seaport? Gould finally realized that while truth may be stranger than fiction, fiction can be truer than our incomplete histories. The result is the Walt Whitman, S. Q. L. tetrology.

 Kelson of the Creation serves as a prequel, devoted to the inciting incidents which inspired Leaves of Grass: the runaway marketplace successes of Martin Farquhar Tupper’s Proverbial Philosophy, the “Mose the Fireboy” theatrical franchise, and the legacy of Ralph Waldo Emerson — including his essay “The Poet,” which serves as a remarkably comprehensive blueprint for Leaves of Grass. Above all, the spiritual inferno which melted and fused these disparate elements was the enormous friction between Walt’s grief over his dying father and his joy in Fred Vaughan’s love.

 In Ratcliffe Serpent, Sherlock Holmes chases an international serial killer to New York, where he learns that Walt Whitman’s older brother Jesse is confined to a “lunatic asylum” after being attacked with brass knuckles (inspired by an historical legend). This turns out to have been the start of the Ratcliffe Serpent’s evil career. Dr. Watson accompanies Holmes, to conduct medical research at New York Hospital. Sherlock’s half-sister Agatha Holmes is already in New York, seeking freedoms she cannot win in England — including freedom from Watson’s domination over their love affair. In a drama inspired by the life of Anne Gilchrist, Agatha falls tragically in love with Walt Whitman. Sherlock Holmes finds that he cannot apprehend the killer until he teases out the seaport’s sexual secrets.

 In Senator’s Will, Holmes is hired by the U. S. Congress to investigate the murder of New York Representative Mike Walsh, one of Walt Whitman’s former journalist colleagues. In a twist based upon newspaper accounts of the period, Holmes and Watson pursue their suspect into frontier Kansas. While Holmes returns the criminal to New York, Watson is ordered to accompany Pinkerton detective Kate Warne all the way to San Francisco, to prevent California Congressman David Cobreth Broderick from engaging in deadly duels. Broderick is a product of volunteer firemen’s politics in New York, and Holmes ultimately learns to see the close parallel between New York’s pariah sailors and its pariah “roughs.”

 In Death Mask, Holmes takes a break from dangerous assignments and hopes to amuse himself with the legend of Elias Hicks’s death mask, which Swarthmore College wishes to locate. While tracing its change of hands from its creators to the final owner, Holmes discovers why the Quaker theologian was so influential, and the astonishing debt Walt Whitman owes to him. He also discovers the history of Quaker innovations which helped make New York our greatest seaport. This book brings the Sailor, Lover, Quaker threads together in a unified history.