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October 14, 2016 11:23 am  #1


Sherlock and Mycroft's mother

Mr. Holmes, Sr.:  "A complete flake, my wife, but she happens to be a genius."

Mary:  "She was a mathematician?"

Mr. Holmes, Sr.:  "She gave it all up for children."

Let me think about this one.  Not to dismiss the problems of women in academics, then or now--but the show begins in 2010, so pretty much present-day.  Sherlock is a fairly young man, and Mycroft is probably no more than mid-forties, although his receding hairline and suits make it easy for him to look older.  So say these two are roughly my contemporaries (I'm 49).  Their mother would be younger than my mother, but not much.  Their mother probably put off childbearing while getting her Ph.D.  Having done all that, "She gave it all up for children"?  

That would have been mid-1970's or so. Getting hired as a math professor (maths professor?) at that time would have been very difficult, but not impossible.  She doesn't seem to have the social awkwardness of her sons, but maybe she's developed her social skills and confidence over time.  I just find it hard to believe that a woman who worked as hard as she had to in order to get that degree would just give up, forget about it, and go into full-time housewife and child care mode.

Then again, once she had a glimpse of her children's brilliance, she may have decided she'd better make them her priority, rather than trying to force very square pegs into the round holes of group child care and school.  I'm guessing they were home schooled at least for a while, as Mycroft once comments, "We both thought you were an idiot until we met other children.  What were they thinking?" and Sherlock says with distaste, "Probably something about 'making friends.'"  So they were pretty much each other's only reference until they were a little older.

 

October 14, 2016 12:12 pm  #2


Re: Sherlock and Mycroft's mother

Um, you make it sound a bit like being an academic is worth more than being a full-time mum. Maybe she just wanted that more than academic work. :-/


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October 14, 2016 2:06 pm  #3


Re: Sherlock and Mycroft's mother

From my personal experience, I know that the struggle for many young people in the academic world  is very real. Having a family and a career is hard for many women (regardless of profession), even today, and many feel like they have to decide between the two. So I don't find it unrealistic that Mrs. Holmes dropped out of academics when she became a mother. 


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We balance probabilities and choose the most likely. It is the scientific use of the imagination.    http://i.picasion.com/av/83/2rrf.jpg
 

October 14, 2016 5:32 pm  #4


Re: Sherlock and Mycroft's mother

I feel that some of the background is a bit of a mystery, not entirely fleshed out, whether that's deliberate (more to be revealed), or not (not necessary for the plot).   It does look as if Mrs Holmes gave up academia for childcare, but there are sometimes hints that Mycroft was almost more involved in bringing up and educating Sherlock than she was.  And it's Mycroft that Sherlock looks to.   Genius Mrs Holmes doesn't feature in his mind palace at all.

I get the impression that the Holmes have money, so Mrs Holmes maybe didn't have to work to support the family and preferred not to.  And if they had money, if she'd wanted to work, she could have employed nannies. 

Getting a maths degree wouldn't necessarily have been particularly hard work (compared to other degrees!) if she was a genius mathematician.  It might even have been easy.   But maybe she just lost interest.  I remember reading an interview with a mathematician once, and he said something like he liked having done maths rather than doing it, which surprised me.  But maybe it can lose its appeal over the years.

I suppose her being a mathematician is also a reference to Moriarty in the books.  I'm not sure if it's just a reference or a plot point!

 

October 14, 2016 11:15 pm  #5


Re: Sherlock and Mycroft's mother

Oh, never mind.  I should write things out *before* I post them, as I generally seem to answer my own question in the process.  No, I don't mean to imply that being an academic is more valuable than being a full-time mom; I was just trying to figure out the timeline and see if their mother really would have had to "give it all up" to have children even if she had wanted an academic career.  And when I remembered who her children were--well, I'm sure there was never a dull moment raising them, even more than with most children.

     Thread Starter
 

November 28, 2017 3:35 pm  #6


Re: Sherlock and Mycroft's mother

http://up.picr.de/31078872ra.jpg


We have discussed this before but since I just saw this pic from the prop exhibition at Sherlocked: 

- Why is Ms Holmes introduced as a mathematician when she wrote a book that belongs definitely to the field of physics? 
- Why the American spelling "behavior" instead of "behaviour"?
- Why was the book discussing the thyroid gland (as can be seen from the page Mary is studying)?

Nothing about this makes any sense. 


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"To fake the death of one sibling may be regarded as a misfortune; to fake the death of both looks like carelessness." Oscar Wilde about Mycroft Holmes

"It is what it is says love." (Erich Fried)

“Enjoy the journey of life and not just the endgame. I’m also a great believer in treating others as you would like to be treated.” (Benedict Cumberbatch)

http://up.picr.de/28609194so.png

 
 

November 28, 2017 3:41 pm  #7


Re: Sherlock and Mycroft's mother

Because set decoration was not as carefully done as fans would like...

 

November 28, 2017 4:12 pm  #8


Re: Sherlock and Mycroft's mother

I beg to differ. We have a British show, decorated by British set designers and written by British scriptwriters. Why should they use the American spelling? And why call someone a mathematician and in the very same scene use a physics book with medical content? This is not a prop that was just lying around, it has been created for the show. 

 It has become a default answer to explain everything that does not make sense with sloppiness. 

 

Last edited by SusiGo (November 28, 2017 4:16 pm)


------------------------------
"To fake the death of one sibling may be regarded as a misfortune; to fake the death of both looks like carelessness." Oscar Wilde about Mycroft Holmes

"It is what it is says love." (Erich Fried)

“Enjoy the journey of life and not just the endgame. I’m also a great believer in treating others as you would like to be treated.” (Benedict Cumberbatch)

http://up.picr.de/28609194so.png

 
 

November 28, 2017 6:15 pm  #9


Re: Sherlock and Mycroft's mother

There may be some "in" joke that we don't know!  I thought that when I heard about Arwel leaving his son's initials round the sets.  `Some things are just carelessness, some things have secret messages for us, but some are deliberate but more personal to the creators than the story itself.  Another possibility is a plot-line that was shelved.  I have no idea what the case is with this particular one, but it seems that they didn't make anything of it in the show. 

I'm sure we talked at some point about Moriarty and Mrs Holmes both being mathematicians.  Apparently Moriarty may have been based on Simon Newcomb, who was Canadian-American https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Newcomb , which could account for the American spelling, if it's an obscure reference?  Still doesn't explain the thyroid!

Last edited by Liberty (November 28, 2017 6:40 pm)

 

November 29, 2017 1:01 pm  #10


Re: Sherlock and Mycroft's mother

SusiGo wrote:

I beg to differ. We have a British show, decorated by British set designers and written by British scriptwriters. Why should they use the American spelling? And why call someone a mathematician and in the very same scene use a physics book with medical content? This is not a prop that was just lying around, it has been created for the show. 

 It has become a default answer to explain everything that does not make sense with sloppiness. 

 

And only certain parts of fandom try to find a deeper meaning behind every "mistake".

The show needed a book written by Mrs. Holmes - somebody created a cover and put it on a book dealing with (amongst other things) the thyroid gland, because that was what was at hand (and who would ever notice?).

The spelling of behavio(u)r could be due to the fact that the show is created for an American/international audience (that's the only reason I can see for all those handguns whose illegality is never mentioned). Or mabybe the cover was created by an American - there might be working some in British TV. Or maybe the person who typed it was British but believes that British spelling should be simplified. Or he or she simply made a mistake. Either way, there was no time and money to redo it.

Being neither a mathematician nor a physicist, I can't say how hard and fast the border between both fields is - but given that I know of one mathematicians who built a speech encryption machine and another who got a nobel prize for economics I wouldn't be all that surprised if a mathematician wrote a book about the dynamics of combustion.

 

November 29, 2017 6:10 pm  #11


Re: Sherlock and Mycroft's mother

Based on former experience with the "mysteries" I'm with Kittyhawk.

Beside this - maybe the book was published in the USA?

 

December 7, 2017 7:38 am  #12


Re: Sherlock and Mycroft's mother

Kittyhawk wrote:

The show needed a book written by Mrs. Holmes - somebody created a cover and put it on a book dealing with (amongst other things) the thyroid gland, because that was what was at hand (and who would ever notice?).

That´s probably how it was done. They maybe took a real cover from some university primer, pasted the name M. L. Holmes on it and planted some medical book inside.
 


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I cannot live without brainwork. What else is there to live for? Stand at the window there. Was there ever such a dreary, dismal, unprofitable world? See how the yellow fog swirls down the street and drifts across the dun-coloured houses. What could be more hopelessly prosaic and material? What is the use of having powers, Doctor, when one has no field upon which to exert them?

http://49.media.tumblr.com/eb0e156f55878fcd6f89dcf91ae89811/tumblr_o0eyyzrphE1spvwrzo2_1280.gif
 

December 7, 2017 7:52 am  #13


Re: Sherlock and Mycroft's mother

Which is absolutely in contrast to the care and diligence with which they create their sets, technical appliances like the bed in the meadow or the thing helping Benedict to fall backwards in HLV. 


------------------------------
"To fake the death of one sibling may be regarded as a misfortune; to fake the death of both looks like carelessness." Oscar Wilde about Mycroft Holmes

"It is what it is says love." (Erich Fried)

“Enjoy the journey of life and not just the endgame. I’m also a great believer in treating others as you would like to be treated.” (Benedict Cumberbatch)

http://up.picr.de/28609194so.png

 
 

December 7, 2017 8:23 am  #14


Re: Sherlock and Mycroft's mother

I think they were especially careful about sets that were the crucial points of some scenes (the bed in ASIP and Ben falling in HLV are good examples) - but they were quite careless about other things appearing in the story. Mycroft´s tie and Sherlock´s and John´s hair changing so radically between HLV and TST comes to mind.

This book was in the story for the fleeting moment only and proved quite unimportant for the storyline - so why waste the care of the crew on that if they have more important things to arraange?


-----------------------------------

I cannot live without brainwork. What else is there to live for? Stand at the window there. Was there ever such a dreary, dismal, unprofitable world? See how the yellow fog swirls down the street and drifts across the dun-coloured houses. What could be more hopelessly prosaic and material? What is the use of having powers, Doctor, when one has no field upon which to exert them?

http://49.media.tumblr.com/eb0e156f55878fcd6f89dcf91ae89811/tumblr_o0eyyzrphE1spvwrzo2_1280.gif
 

December 7, 2017 9:26 am  #15


Re: Sherlock and Mycroft's mother

Exactly. Budget was limited, and the 80/20 rule applies in tv as much as everywhere else - so why strive for perfection in all things? Besides - is special effects/engineering like "the bed in the meadow" or "the the thing helping Benedict to fall backwards" even the same department as straightforward set decoration?

It's taken me a long time but I've finally come to accept the fact that Sherlock is not Lord of the Rings, but a tv show that's made under the same time and budget constraints as all other (non-pay-)tv shows...

 

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