Hi ! I just read your "Did Lemony stalk the Baudelaire orphans from his taxi" article and it reminded me of an old theory of mine. As you said, we can see the Duchess' signature evolves quite a lot between her youth and the Masked Ball. However, her second signature has always seemed, to me, to mix two letters: a cursive S and a cursive L. Could she be an alias of LS? Not from the beginning but starting a certain point. It would explain why Kit adresses her letters for Lemony. What do you think?
An alias? I don’t think so. There are other characters than Lemony who acknowledge the Duchess’ existence: Esme, for example. Lemony himself describes her as an actual person in “The Beatrice Letters”. So unless “Duchess of Winnipeg” is Lemony’s drag name and he suffers from a SEVERE case of multiple personality disorder, I’m pretty sure she’s real.
“Lemony! Did you set the library on fire?”
— “No. When the cops comme for me, I’m gonna tell them it was my alter ego, Duchess Rootie Flagrante.”
I would call your idea outlandish, but… Daniel Handler DID use the “X was actually the narrator’s alter-ego all along” twist in one of his adult novels. And he does seem to imply that the elusive J.S. is actually Lemony. So it’s not outlandish, just… unlikely?
If you like theories about Lemony’s mental instability, this article (Link) I wrote might interest you.