William King, Sherlock Holmes, and the Dalai Lama?

One of the fun things I put into the Mary Russell Companion was a document written by my husband’s father, William King, regarding an intriguing possible overlap between the family of Laurie King and that of Mary Russell. William King laid the first telephone line into Lhasa; Sherlock Holmes, during the “Great Hiatus” following his apparent death over Reichenbach FallsHolmes_Moriarty_Reichenbach_Falls

in fact travelled to Tibet:

I traveled for two years in Tibet…and amused myself by visiting Lhasa, and spending some days with the head Lama. You may have read of the remarkable explorations of a Norwegian named Sigerson, but I am sure that it never occurred to you that you were receiving news of your friend.

In 1922, as William King writes:

…it was not till Sir Francis Younghusband, Political Administrator, made his successful, though difficult and dangerous, expedition to Tibet in 1904 that trade relations were established with British India. A telegraph line was built as far as Gyantse, one of the agreed trading posts; but, even then, a telegraph line to the forbidden city of Lhasa would have been regarded as a fantastic dream. But a war between China and Tibet, the flight of the Dalai Lama, and the kindness with which he was treated by the British Authorities during his three years exile in India, changed all that. On his return to power at Lhasa, relations with British India were extended by the prominent help of Sir Charles Bell, Political Administrator, and he introduced many of the modern improvements he had seen and admired in India. In 1920, he made the revolutionary decision to link the forbidden city itself and the outer world by telegraph via India, and to set up a telephone service in Lhasa.William King with Dalai Lama

One has to wonder, if Mr Holmes encountered the railway engineer when he went through Indian on his way to Tibet…

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If you’d like to read more about William King’s adventures in the Russell Memoirs,

The Mary Russell Companion is available here.mr-companion-cover


  1. Merrily Taylor on June 23, 2014 at 6:19 am

    What an intriguing possibility! I think this deserves a short story, myself. Perhaps Ms. Russell’s literary agent might contact her to see if Mr. Holmes would be willing to enlighten us on the subject….

  2. Jimmie Lindsey on June 23, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Sounds delightfully intriguing! Just another reason I am anxiously awaiting the print version of the “Companion”.

  3. Albion Butters on June 24, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    And what clue might be found within the prayer wheel given to Mr. King?

    • Laurie King on June 26, 2014 at 6:45 am

      Albion: some mysteries are better left unexplored…

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