Comments on a few difficulties involved in doing research . . .

It is now pretty well established, I think, that the De La Rule booklet on Six-Pack Bezique was written by “our” Frederic Jessel.  Some people might think that I was being too cautious regarding the authorship, and maybe I was.

But in the past, I have been burned.

For instance, a few years ago, I was doing research on the 13 Silver Street address of Professor Hoffmann’s friend Robert Hellis.  I thought I had figured out the location of that address — after a great deal of work, and I am probably talking hours and hours, over a period of weeks.  But then Will Houstoun allowed me to see some draft material from his then-forthcoming book (Hellis in Wonderland), and it turned out that I had been very wrong.

Or, here is another example.

In the case of James Hogg (editor of London Society), the possibilities for confusion and mistakes are endless.  Hogg’s father was also named James.  Then there was another James Hogg (the “Ettrick Shepherd”), whose lifetime overlapped with those of the other two.  All three of these men were born in Scotland.

I have also run into problems relating to the fact that multiple people have had the name A.J. Lewis.

Oh, and I once wrongly attributed a certain work to one of Hoffmann’s brothers, namely Marcus H. Lewis.

Sorry, but it was a different Marcus H. Lewis who wrote the work in question.

And then there is the problem of name spellings.  In the case of members of Angelo Lewis’s extended family, I have seen the following variations Johnstone and Johnston, Ramsey and Ramsay, Schultz and Schultze.  In each case, the second spelling is correct, but if you are looking for information regarding the people, you pretty much have to try the wrong spellings, or allow for them in some way.

Then again, you might not know that Hoffmann’s son went by Lionel A. lewis, and also by Avery Lewis.

Just some examples!

—Tom Sawyer

Saturday, December 29, 2012, 5:39 p.m.

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