The Regender Project: A Study In Scarlet

As promised, here is the first novel I chose to regender, A Study in Scarlet. It’ll be available for free for a short time, so grab it while you can. The original novel marked the first appearance of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. Ever since I started developing The Regender Project, one of the images that’s been stuck in my mind was the famous detective being portrayed as a woman. I had no doubt one of his stories would feature as my first regendered work.

Even being the first novel, I found the experience of regendering it wildly different from what I’d expected. While the process may seem straight forward, and in so many ways it was, there were plenty of little quirks and quibbles that gave me pause. Most of the regular ones I’ve talked about in the Regendered Project: Method page, but each novel seems to have its own unique set of challenges.

I’ve decided to include an author’s note with each novel where I talk about these issues and choices I made with that particular work. I’d originally planned to place it at the front of the novel, serving as an introduction, but realised there were quite a few spoilers in them. While I know the original version of these novels are over a hundred years old, I figured there’d be plenty of people who might not have read them or didn’t remember them clearly, so I’ve placed them at the end.

I’ll also include the notes when I introduce each novel on this blog, so you can get an idea of what it might be like after the regending. They’re hidden behind the spoiler tag below, so you’ll need to click to read them, but do so at your own risk!

Author’s Note:

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A Study in Scarlet was the first novel I chose to regender, and as such is probably a little rougher in the methods I used to do it. What appealed to be about this novel was how iconic the central character is, with Sherlock appearing in dozens, if not hundreds, of various adaptations. Even with all the small changes arising from different interpretations, we’re so used to seeing Sherlock portrayed in a certain way, and almost always male, that I felt it was the perfect way to showcase what I was trying to achieve with the Regender Project.

Similarly, the transformation of Victorian era London from a patriarchal society, where men held all the positions of authority and importance, to a more matriarchal one was just as enlightening.
The biggest transformation was in the second half of the novel, set amongst a Mormon community. Suddenly, it was women who kept a brood of husbands, along with having their choice of which ones to add. It also created a challenge in how I would regender historical characters within a story. One of the guidelines I decided to use was leaving historical figured unchanged, so as not to create an alternate version of history. I hadn’t thought about what to do with historical figures who appeared as characters, as Bringham Young does in this novel. While it might have been interesting to present him as having multiple husbands as well, that didn’t quite fit with what I was trying to do with regendering. Fortunately, there weren’t any references to his wives in the novel, which would become husbands after regendering, so I was able to leave his character male without creating too much of a disconnect. It does present an interesting situation where, within my regendered version of the novel, he’s helped found a society that’s effectively ruled and controlled by women. While not precisely the scenario I am trying to create, it provides just as much thought and discussion on the issue.

Overall, I found regendering A Study in Scarlet to be even more fascinating than I thought it’d be. So much so, I’ll probably regender more Sherlock Holmes stories in the future.

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