William Crawford Honeyman

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William Crawford Honeyman
Born William Crawford Honeyman
Wellington, N.Z.
Died 1919
Occupation author, short story writer, violinist, orchestra conductor
Nationality Scottish
Citizenship British
Genre detective fiction, non-fiction
Notable works Brought to Bay or Experiences of a City Detective,
Strange Clues,
Solved Mysteries,
Traced and Tracked,
How to Play the Violin,
The Secrets of Violin Playing

William Crawford Honeyman (1845–1919) was a Scottish musician and author.[1]


William C. Honeyman was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1845 to Thomas and Eliza Honeyman, who had emigrated from Scotland four years earlier.[2][3] He was the grandson of minor Scottish poet and songwriter, Adam Crawford.[4] Honeyman returned to Britain with his mother and three siblings in 1849.[5] He was a violinist and orchestra leader who, under his real name, published violin instructional books such as How to Play the Violin and The Secrets of Violin Playing. However, he was much better known in his own time under his pseudonym, James McGovan (or James M'Govan), a writer of police detective novels.[6]

Readers did not initially realise the works were fiction, but assumed they were true stories in the vein of James McLevy. McGovan's stories were so highly regarded in his own time, that an 1888 Publishers’ Circular “proclaimed McGovan’s articles ‘the best detective stories (true stories, we esteem them) that we ever met with.’”[1]

Historians believe Edinburgh resident Arthur Conan Doyle was aware of and influenced by McGowan's tales and went on to publish his first Sherlock Holmes story in 1887.[2][6]

Miscellaneous works[edit]


  • Honeyman, William C. (1890). The Secrets of Violin Playing. Edinburgh: E. Koehler. 
  • Honeyman, William C. (1890). The Violin : How To Choose One. Edinburgh. 
  • Honeyman, William C. (1890). The Young Violinist's Tutor and Duet Book : A Collection of Easy Airs, Operatic Selections, and Familiar Melodies. Edinburgh. 
  • Honeyman, William C. (1898). The Strathspey, Reel, and Hornpipe Tutor. Edinburgh. 
  • Honeyman, William C. The Secrets of Violin Playing : Being Full Instructions and Hints To Violin Players, For The Perfect Mastery of The Instrument. 
  • Honeyman, William C. (1899). Scottish Violin Makers : Past and Present. Edinburgh. 
  • Honeyman, William C. (1883). The Violin : How to Master It / By a Professional Player. Edinburgh. 



  1. ^ a b Willis, Louis (2014-02-23). "Two More From "The Dead Witness"". Knoxville: SleuthSayers. 
  2. ^ a b Hunt, Tom (2014-09-06). "Sherlock Holmes' Kiwi connection". Dominion Post, Wellington. 
  3. ^ Ward, Lewis E. (1928). "Early Wellington". Auckland: Whitcombe and Tombs. 
  4. ^ "The violinist who fiddled his readers". Scotsman. 2003-07-15. 
  5. ^ "'Shipping Intelligence', New Zealand Spectator and Cook's Strait Guardian, 3 March 1849". 
  6. ^ a b "Experiences of a Detective in Victorian Edinburgh". Edinburgh: Birlinn. 2004. Retrieved 24 February 2014.