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Isa Whitney was an opium addict and patient of Dr John Watson. Watson's attempt to retrieve Whitney from an opium den lead him to stumble into the mystery chronicled in "The Man With the Twisted Lip".

History[]

Whitney seems to have come from a respectable family, as his brother, Elias, held a D.D. and was Principal of the Theological College of St. George's. Isa first tried opium in college, after reading Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. He quickly became an addict, and kept his wife Kate in a perpetual state of worry. At some point, Dr Watson became Whitney's medical adviser.

In June 1889, Kate visits Watson at home to inform him that her husband hadn't been home for two days. She asks the doctor to retrieve him from The Bar of Gold, an East London opium den. There, Watson finds Whitney in a drug-induced stupor, completely oblivious to the fact two days have gone by since he entered. Watson insists he return home at once, and Whitney, ashamed at having frightened his wife, complies, with Watson agreeing to pay his tab. However, as Watson looks for the manager the den he is surprised by a disguised Sherlock Holmes, who brings him into his latest investigation - solving the disappearance of Mr Neville St Clair from that same establishment.

Description[]

Watson describes Isa Whitney as totally consumed by his addiction, "an object of mingled horror and pity to his friends and relatives." His opium use has caused significant physical deterioration, giving a "yellow, pasty face, drooping lids, and pin-point pupils, all huddled in a chair, the wreck and ruin of a noble man."

Trivia[]

  • When Watson tried to convince Whitney of the date, he tells him that it is Friday, June 19; the drugged Whitney, however, insists that it must be Wednesday. In fact, June 19th did fall on a Wednesday in 1889. However in July 1889 there was a Friday 19th.
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