June 17, 1997
I apologize for my lateness in replying to your letter. It was very interesting, stimulating, in fact, but I've been afflicted for a long time with a sleep disorder which makes me extremely fatigued and apathetic. It was difficult for me to write even a letter.
I should say that I was afflicted. Actually, the medicine I've been taking has enabled me to sleep somewhat better. So, though I'm not cured, I still have more energy than I did, and I hope to get even better.
It's nice of you to delay sending in the letter for possible publication until you get my permission to send it in. You don't need that, and, in view of the delayed reply from me, I wish you hadn't. However, so be it, and you have my permission.
It's a very ingenious article, and it may cause as much uproar as when Rex Stout proposed to the Baker Street Irregulars that Sherlock Holmes was a woman. But I won't validate or decry your theory. Let it fare on its own. I do approve of your way of thinking.
The question of ESCAPE being or not being canonical is nonsense. Of course, it is. It's based on certain comments and items in the canon and is logical in its development. However, I wrote ESCAPE with the characters portrayed as somewhat more realistic and less caricaturish than in the magazine series. And I was not bound by the conventions Dent and others had to oberve because the magazine was slanted toward the 15-year old male of the 1930's and 1940's. I could be more realistic. Nevertheless, ESCAPE is as much a part of the canon as anything written by anyone else. If you're going to reject any story, reject LAND OF LONG JUJU and that story (forget the title just now) which had supposedly four-armed men in it. Both ghastly, ghastly, ghastly.
As for the name of Murdstone, surely some devoted reader of Dickens must have recognized it.
Good luck with the article and my best
Philip Jose Farmer
Rex Stout's article actually claimed that Watson was a woman, not that Sherlock Holmes was a woman. In fact, the article was called "Watson Was A Woman."