Sherlock Holmes

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Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes character
Sherlock Holmes Portrait Paget.jpg
Sherlock Holmes in a 1904 illustration by Sidney Paget
First appearance A Study in Scarlet
Created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Gender Male
Occupation Consulting detective
Family Mycroft Holmes (brother)
Nationality British

Sherlock Holmes (/ˈʃɜrlɒk ˈhmz/) is a fictional detective created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a graduate of the University of Edinburgh Medical School. A London-based "consulting detective" whose abilities border on the fantastic, Holmes is known for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to adopt almost any disguise and his use of forensic science to solve difficult cases.

Holmes, who first appeared in print in 1887, was featured in four novels and 56 short stories. The first novel, A Study in Scarlet, appeared in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887 and the second, The Sign of the Four, in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1890. The character's popularity grew with the first series of short stories in The Strand Magazine, beginning with "A Scandal in Bohemia" in 1891, and additional short-story series and two novels (published in serial form) appeared from then to 1927. The stories cover a period from about 1880 to 1914.

All but four stories are narrated by Holmes's friend and biographer, Dr. John H. Watson. Two are narrated by Holmes himself ("The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier" and "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane"), and two others are written in the third person ("The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone" and "His Last Bow"). In two stories ("The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual" and "The Adventure of the Gloria Scott") Holmes tells Watson the story from his memory, with Watson narrating the frame story. The first and fourth novels, A Study in Scarlet and The Valley of Fear, include long passages of omniscient narrative of events unknown to either Holmes or Watson.

Inspiration for the character

Doyle said that Holmes was inspired by Joseph Bell, a surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh for whom he had worked as a clerk. Like Holmes, Bell was noted for drawing broad conclusions from minute observations.[1] However, he later wrote to Conan Doyle: "You are yourself Sherlock Holmes and well you know it".[2] Sir Henry Littlejohn, Chair of Medical Jurisprudence at the University of Edinburgh Medical School, is also cited as an inspiration for Holmes. Littlejohn, Police Surgeon and Medical Officer of Health in Edinburgh, provided Doyle with a link between medical investigation and the detection of crime.[3]


Early life

Magazine cover featuring A Study in Scarlet, with drawing of a man lighting a lamp
Holmes' first appearance in 1887

Details about Sherlock Holmes's life, except for the adventures in the books, are few and far between in Conan Doyle's original stories. Nevertheless, mentions of his early life and extended families paint a loose biographical picture of the detective.

An estimate of Holmes's age in "His Last Bow" places his birth year at 1854; the story, set in August 1914, describes him as 60 years of age. Leslie S. Klinger posits the detective's birthdate as 6 January.[4]

Holmes says that he first developed his methods of deduction as an undergraduate; his earliest cases, which he pursued as an amateur, came from fellow university students.[5] A meeting with a classmate's father led him to adopt detection as a profession,[6] and he spent six years after university as a consultant before financial difficulties led him to accept Watson as a housemate (when the narrative of the stories begins).

Beginning in 1881 Holmes has lodgings at 221B Baker Street, London. According to an early manuscript[citation needed] 221B is an apartment at the upper end of the street, up 17 steps. Until Watson's arrival Holmes worked alone, only occasionally employing agents from the city's underclass (including a host of informants and a group of street children he called "the Baker Street Irregulars"). The Irregulars appear in three stories: A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of the Four and "The Adventure of the Crooked Man".

His parents are unmentioned in the stories, although Holmes mentions that his ancestors were "country squires". In "The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter", he claims that his great-uncle was French artist Horace Vernet. Holmes' brother Mycroft, seven years his senior, is a government official who appears in "The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter", "The Final Problem" and "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans" and is mentioned in "The Adventure of the Empty House". Mycroft has a unique civil service position as a kind of human database for all aspects of government policy but lacks Sherlock's interest in physical investigation, preferring to spend his time at the Diogenes Club.

Life with Watson

Holmes (in deerstalker hat) talking to Watson (in a bowler hat) in a railway compartment
Holmes and Watson in a Sidney Paget illustration for "Silver Blaze"

Holmes shares most of his professional years with narrator John Watson, a physician who lives with Holmes for some time before his 1887 marriage and again after his wife's death. Their residence is maintained by their landlady, Mrs. Hudson. Most of the stories are frame narratives, written from Watson's point of view as summaries of the detective's most interesting cases. Holmes frequently calls Watson's writing sensational and populist, suggesting that it fails to accurately and objectively report the "science" of his craft:

Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science and should be treated in the same cold and unemotional manner. You have attempted to tinge it ["A Study in Scarlet"] with romanticism, which produces much the same effect as if you worked a love-story... Some facts should be suppressed, or, at least, a just sense of proportion should be observed in treating them. The only point in the case which deserved mention was the curious analytical reasoning from effects to causes, by which I succeeded in unravelling it.[7]

—Sherlock Holmes on John Watson's "pamphlet", The Sign of the Four

Nevertheless, Holmes's friendship with Watson is his most significant relationship. In "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs", Watson is injured; although the bullet wound turns out to be "quite superficial", Watson is moved by Holmes' reaction:

It was worth a wound; it was worth many wounds; to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.[8]

According to "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger" Holmes was in active practice for 23 years, with Watson co-operating with him for 17.

The Great Hiatus

Holmes and Moriarty wrestling at the end of a narrow path, with Holmes' hat falling into a waterfall
Holmes and Moriarty struggle at the Reichenbach Falls; drawing by Sidney Paget

Conan Doyle wrote the first set of stories over the course of a decade. Wishing to devote more time to his historical novels, he killed off Holmes in "The Final Problem" (which appeared in print in 1893, and is set in 1891). After resisting public pressure for eight years, the author wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles (which appeared in 1901, with an implicit setting before Holmes' death; some theorise that it occurs after "The Return", with Watson planting clues to an earlier date).[9][10] In 1903 Conan Doyle wrote "The Adventure of the Empty House", set in 1894; Holmes reappears, explaining to a stunned Watson that he had faked his death in "The Final Problem" to fool his enemies. "The Adventure of the Empty House" marks the beginning of the second set of stories, which Conan Doyle wrote until 1927.

Holmes aficionados refer to the period from 1891 to 1894—between his disappearance and presumed death in "The Final Problem" and his reappearance in "The Adventure of the Empty House"—as the Great Hiatus.[11] One later story ("A Reminiscence of Sherlock Holmes", later known as "The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge") is described as taking place in 1892, although this may have been an error on the author's part.


In "His Last Bow", Holmes has retired to a small farm on the Sussex Downs. The move is not dated precisely, but can be presumed to predate 1904 (since it is referred to retrospectively in "The Second Stain", first published that year). He has taken up beekeeping as his primary occupation, producing a Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, with some Observations upon the Segregation of the Queen. The story features Holmes and Watson coming out of retirement to aid the war effort. Only one other adventure, "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane" (narrated by Holmes), takes place during the detective's retirement. The details of his death are unknown.

Personality and habits

Man answering the door to a bowler-hatted man in a raincoat
Sidney Paget illustration from "The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez"

Watson describes Holmes as "bohemian" in his habits and lifestyle. Described by Watson in The Hound of the Baskervilles as having a "cat-like" love of personal cleanliness, Holmes is an eccentric with no regard for contemporary standards of tidiness or good order. In "The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual", Watson says:

Although in his methods of thought he was the neatest and most methodical of mankind ... [he] keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife into the very centre of his wooden mantelpiece ... He had a horror of destroying documents .... Thus month after month his papers accumulated, until every corner of the room was stacked with bundles of manuscript which were on no account to be burned, and which could not be put away save by their owner.[5]

Throughout the stories, Holmes dives into an apparent mess to find an item most relevant to a mystery. The detective starves himself at times of intense intellectual activity, such as during "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder"—wherein, according to Watson:

[Holmes] had no breakfast for himself, for it was one of his peculiarities that in his more intense moments he would permit himself no food, and I have known him to presume upon his iron strength until he has fainted from pure inanition.[12]

Young man in a suit, looking left
Sidney Paget, whose illustrations in The Strand Magazine iconicised Holmes and Watson

Although his chronicler does not consider Holmes' habitual use of a pipe (or his less-frequent use of cigarettes and cigars) a vice per se, Watson—a physician—occasionally criticises the detective for creating a "poisonous atmosphere" of tobacco smoke.[13] Holmes acknowledges Watson's disapproval in "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot": "I think, Watson, that I shall resume that course of tobacco-poisoning which you have so often and so justly condemned".

His companion condones the detective's willingness to bend the truth (or break the law) on behalf of a client—lying to the police, concealing evidence or breaking into houses—when he feels it morally justifiable,[14] but condemns Holmes' manipulation of innocent people in "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton".

The detective acts on behalf of the British government in matters of national security in a number of stories,[15] and performs counter-intelligence work in His Last Bow (set on the eve of World War I). As shooting practice during a period of boredom, Holmes decorates the wall of his Baker Street lodgings with VR (Victoria Regina) in "bullet-pocks" from his pistol.[5]

Bordering on arrogance, he derives pleasure from baffling police inspectors with his deductions. The detective does not actively seek fame, however, and is usually content to let the police take public credit for his work.[16] In Watson's stories and an occasional newspaper article, Holmes' role in the cases is evenutally revealed. Because of this he is well-known as a detective, and many clients ask for his help instead of (or in addition to) that of the police.[17] These include government officials and royalty. A Prime Minister[18] and the King of Bohemia[19] visit 221B Baker Street to request Holmes' assistance; the government of France awards him its Legion of Honour for solving a case;[20] the King of Scandinavia is a client,[21] and Holmes aids the Vatican at least twice.[22]

Holmes is pleased when his skills are recognised, and responds to flattery. Although the detective is usually dispassionate and cold, during an investigation he is animated and excitable. He has a flair for showmanship, preparing elaborate traps to capture and expose a culprit (often to impress Watson or one of the Scotland Yard inspectors).[23]

Except for that of Watson, Holmes avoids casual company. In "The Adventure of the Gloria Scott" he tells the doctor that during two years at college he made only one friend, Victor Trevor: "I was never a very sociable fellow, Watson, always rather fond of moping in my rooms and working out my own little methods of thought, so that I never mixed much with the men of my year; ... my line of study was quite distinct from that of the other fellows, so that we had no points of contact at all". The detective is similarly described by Stamford in A Study in Scarlet.

Holmes relaxes with music in "The Red-Headed League", taking the evening off from a case to listen to Pablo de Sarasate play violin. His enjoyment of vocal music, particularly Wagner's, is evident in "The Adventure of the Red Circle".

Drug use

Holmes in a blue bathrobe, reclining against a pillow and smoking his pipe
1891 Sidney Paget Strand portrait of Holmes for "The Man with the Twisted Lip"

Holmes occasionally uses addictive drugs, especially in the absence of stimulating cases. He uses cocaine, which he injects in a seven-percent solution with a syringe kept in a Morocco leather case. Although Holmes also dabbles in morphine, he expresses strong disapproval when he visits an opium den; both drugs were legal in late-19th-century England. Watson and Holmes use tobacco, smoking cigarettes, cigars and pipes (a socially-acceptable habit at the time), and the detective is an expert at identifying tobacco-ash residue.

As a physician Watson strongly disapproves of his friend's cocaine habit, describing it as the detective's "only vice" and concerned about its effect on Holmes' mental health and intellect.[24][25] In "The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter" Watson says that although he has "weaned" Holmes from drugs, he remains an addict whose habit is "not dead, but merely sleeping".


Although Holmes initially needed Watson to share the rent for their comfortable residence at 221B Baker Street, Watson says in "The Adventure of the Dying Detective" (set when Holmes was living alone): "I have no doubt that the house might have been purchased at the price which Holmes paid for his rooms." In "The Problem of Thor Bridge" the detective says, "My professional charges are upon a fixed scale. I do not vary them, save when I remit [omit] them altogether". In this context a client is offering to double his fee, and it is implied that wealthy clients habitually pay Holmes more than his standard fee. In "The Final Problem", he says that his services to the government of France and the royal house of Scandinavia had left him with enough money to retire comfortably. However, in "The Adventure of Black Peter" Watson notes that Holmes would refuse to help the wealthy and powerful if their cases did not interest him and devote weeks at a time to those of his humblest clients. The detective tells Watson, in "A Case of Identity", about a gold snuff box received from the King of Bohemia after "A Scandal in Bohemia" and a valuable ring from the Dutch royal family; in "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans", he receives an emerald tie pin from Queen Victoria. Other mementos of Holmes' cases are a gold sovereign from Irene Adler ("A Scandal in Bohemia") and a letter of thanks signed by the French president—and his country's Legion of Honour—for tracking down the assassin Huret ("The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez"). In "The Adventure of the Priory School" Holmes rubs his hands with glee when the Duke of Holdernesse mentions his ₤6,000 fee, the amount of which surprises even Watson. During his career, Holmes works for the most powerful monarchs and governments of Europe (including his own), wealthy aristocrats and industrialists, and impoverished pawnbrokers and governesses.

The detective is known to charge clients for his expenses and claim any reward offered for a problem's solution; in "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" he says that Helen Stoner may pay any expenses he incurs, and asks the bank in "The Red-Headed League" to reimburse him for money spent solving the case. Holmes has his wealthy banker client in "The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet" pay the costs of recovering the stolen gems, and claims the reward posted for their recovery.

Attitudes towards women

Irene Adler

Main article: A Scandal In Bohemia

Irene Adler is a retired American opera singer and actress who appears in "A Scandal in Bohemia". Although this is her only appearance, she is one of the most notable female characters in the stories.

Five years before the story's events, Adler had a brief liaison with Crown Prince of Bohemia Wilhelm von Ormstein while she was prima donna of the Imperial Opera of Warsaw. Recently engaged to the daughter of the King of Scandinavia and fearful that if his fiancée's family learned of this impropriety their marriage would be called off, von Ormstein hires Holmes to regain a photograph of Adler and himself. Adler slips away, leaving only a photograph of herself (alone) and a note to Holmes that she will not blackmail von Ormstein. The beginning of the story describes the high regard in which Holmes holds Adler:

To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler ...yet there was but one woman to him, and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory.

Her memory is kept alive by the photograph of Adler which Holmes received for his part in the case.

Other women

Painting of a woman shooting a man in a room
1904 Sidney Paget illustration of "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton"

In "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton," Holmes becomes engaged in order to obtain information about a case. Although he initially seems interested in some female clients (Violet Hunter in "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches", Violet Smith in "The Solitary Cyclist" and Helen Stoner in "The Speckled Band"), Watson says in "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches" that the detective inevitably "manifested no further interest in the client when once she had ceased to be the centre of one of his problems". Holmes is adept at effortlessly putting his clients at ease, and Watson says that although the detective has an "aversion to women", he has "a peculiarly ingratiating way with [them]". Holmes says in The Valley of Fear, "I am not a whole-souled admirer of womankind",[26] and in "The Adventure of the Second Stain" finds "the motives of women ... so inscrutable .... How can you build on such quicksand? Their most trivial actions may mean volumes ... their most extraordinary conduct may depend upon a hairpin or a curling tongs".[27]

As Doyle wrote to Joseph Bell, "Holmes is as inhuman as a Babbage's calculating machine and just about as likely to fall in love".[28] The only pleasure Holmes derives from the company of women is the problems they bring him to solve. In The Sign of the Four he says, "I would not tell them too much. Women are never to be entirely trusted—not the best of them". Watson calls him "an automaton, a calculating machine", and the detective replies: "It is of the first importance not to allow your judgement to be biased by personal qualities. A client is to me a mere unit—a factor in a problem. The emotional qualities are antagonistic to clear reasoning. I assure you that the most winning woman I ever knew was hanged for poisoning three little children for their insurance-money".[29] In "The Adventure of the Dying Detective" Watson notes that Mrs. Hudson is fond of Holmes in her own way, despite his eccentricities as a lodger, because of his "remarkable gentleness and courtesy in his dealings with women. He disliked and distrusted the sex, but he was always a chivalrous opponent".[30]

Methods of detection

Holmesian deduction

Painting of a seated man, lighting a cigar and looking intently to the side
Poster for the 1900 play Sherlock Holmes by Conan Doyle and actor William Gillette, which included the line "Elementary, my dear Watson" (a phrase absent from the stories)

Holmes's primary intellectual detection method is abductive reasoning.[31][32] "From a drop of water", he writes, "a logician could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen or heard of one or the other".[33] Holmesian deduction consists primarily of observation-based inferences, such as his study of cigar ashes.[31][34][35] The detective's guiding principle, as he says in chapter six ("Sherlock Holmes Gives a Demonstration") of The Sign of the Four and elsewhere in the stories, is: "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth".[36] In "A Scandal in Bohemia", Holmes deduces that Watson had gotten wet lately and had "a most clumsy and careless servant girl". When Watson asks how Holmes knows this, the detective answers:

It is simplicity itself ... My eyes tell me that on the inside of your left shoe, just where the firelight strikes it, the leather is scored by six almost parallel cuts. Obviously they have been caused by someone who has very carelessly scraped round the edges of the sole in order to remove crusted mud from it. Hence, you see, my double deduction that you had been out in vile weather, and that you had a particularly malignant boot-slitting specimen of the London slavey.

Deductive reasoning allows Holmes to learn a stranger's occupation, such as the retired sergeant of Marines in A Study in Scarlet; the ship's carpenter-turned-pawnbroker in "The Red-Headed League", and the billiard-marker and retired artillery NCO in "The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter". By studying inanimate objects, he makes deductions about their owners (Watson's pocket watch in The Sign of the Four and a hat,[37] pipe[38] and walking stick[39] in other stories).

However, Conan Doyle does not paint Holmes as infallible (a central theme of "The Adventure of the Yellow Face").[38] At the end of the story, a chastened Holmes tells his chronicler: "If it should ever strike you that I am getting a little over-confident in my powers, or giving less pains to a case than it deserves, kindly whisper 'Norbury' in my ear, and I shall be infinitely obliged to you".


Holmes is apt at acting and disguise. In several stories ("The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton", "The Man with the Twisted Lip", "The Adventure of the Empty House" and "A Scandal in Bohemia"), to gather evidence undercover he uses disguises so convincing that Watson fails to recognise him. In others ("The Adventure of the Dying Detective" and, again, "A Scandal in Bohemia"), Holmes feigns injury or illness to incriminate the guilty. In the latter story Watson says, "The stage lost a fine actor ... when [Holmes] became a specialist in crime".[40]


Long-barreled revolver with a black handle
British Army (Adams) Mark III, which differed from the Mark II in its ejector-rod design
Silver-coloured revolver, facing left (unlike two pictures above)


Holmes and Watson carry pistols with them—in Watson's case, his old service weapon (probably a Mark III Adams revolver, issued to British troops during the 1870s).[41] In the stories, the pistols are used (or displayed) on a number of occasions. In The Sign of the Four, Holmes and Watson fire at the Andaman islander. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, they shoot at the hound. In "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches" Watson kills the mastiff, and in "The Adventure of the Empty House" he pistol-whips Colonel Sebastian Moran. In "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs", Holmes pistol-whips Killer Evans after Watson is shot. In "The Musgrave Ritual", Holmes is described as decorating the wall of his flat with a patriotic VR (Victoria Regina) of bullet holes. In "The Final Problem" Holmes has a pistol during his interview with Professor Moriarty, and he aims one at Sir George Burnwell in "The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet". In "The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist", "The Adventure of Black Peter" and "The Adventure of the Dancing Men" Holmes or Watson use a pistol to capture the criminals, and the detective uses Watson's revolver to reconstruct a crime in "The Problem of Thor Bridge". A Webley Bulldog (carried by Holmes),[41] Webley RIC[41] and Webley-Government ("WG") army revolver[41] have been associated with Holmes and Watson.

Cane and sword

As a gentleman, Holmes often carries a stick or cane. He is described by Watson as an expert at singlestick, and uses his cane twice as a weapon.[42] In A Study in Scarlet Watson describes Holmes as expert with a sword, and in "The Adventure of the Gloria Scott" the detective practises fencing.

Riding crop

In several stories Holmes carries a riding crop, in "A Case of Identity" threatening to thrash a swindler with it. With a "hunting crop", Holmes knocks a pistol from John Clay's hand in "The Red-Headed League" and drives off the adder in "The Adventure of the Speckled Band". In "The Six Napoleons" he uses his crop (described as his favourite weapon) to break open one of the plaster busts.


Holmes is an adept bare-knuckle fighter; in The Sign of the Four he introduces himself to McMurdo, a prize fighter, as "the amateur who fought three rounds with you at Alison's rooms on the night of your benefit four years back." McMurdo remembers: "Ah, you're one that has wasted your gifts, you have! You might have aimed high, if you had joined the fancy."

The detective occasionally engages in hand-to-hand combat with his adversaries (in "The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist" and "The Adventure of the Naval Treaty"), and is always victorious. "The Adventure of the Gloria Scott" mentions that Holmes trained as a boxer, and in "The Yellow Face" Watson says: "He was undoubtedly one of the finest boxers of his weight that I have ever seen".

Martial arts

In "The Adventure of the Empty House", Holmes tells Watson that he used martial arts to fling Moriarty to his death in the Reichenbach Falls: "I have some knowledge ... of baritsu, or the Japanese system of wrestling, which has more than once been very useful to me". "Baritsu" is Conan Doyle's version of bartitsu, which combined jujitsu with boxing and cane fencing.[43]

Physical strength

The detective is described (or demonstrated) as possessing above-average physical strength. In "The Adventure of the Speckled Band", Dr. Roylott demonstrates his strength by bending a fire poker in half. Watson describes Holmes as laughing, "'I am not quite so bulky, but if he had remained I might have shown him that my grip was not much more feeble than his own.' As he spoke he picked up the steel poker and, with a sudden effort, straightened it out again." In "The Yellow Face" Holmes' chronicler says, "Few men were capable of greater muscular effort."

Knowledge and skills

In the first novel, A Study in Scarlet, Holmes' background is presented. In early 1881 he is a chemistry student with a number of eccentric interests, almost all of which make him adept at solving crimes. He appears for the first time crowing with delight at his new method for detecting bloodstains. "The Adventure of the Gloria Scott", an early story, provides more background on Holmes' decision to become a detective when a college friend's father compliments his deductive skills. Holmes adheres strictly to scientific methods, focusing on logic, observation and deduction.

In A Study in Scarlet Holmes claims to be unaware that the earth revolves around the sun, since such information is irrelevant to his work; after hearing that fact from Watson, he says he will immediately try to forget it. The detective believes that the mind has a finite capacity for information storage, and learning useless things reduces one's ability to learn useful things. Watson assesses Holmes' abilities:

  1. Knowledge of Literature – nil.
  2. Knowledge of Philosophy – nil.
  3. Knowledge of Astronomy – nil.
  4. Knowledge of Politics – Feeble.
  5. Knowledge of Botany – Variable. Well up in belladonna, opium and poisons generally. Knows nothing of practical gardening.
  6. Knowledge of Geology – Practical, but limited. Tells at a glance different soils from each other. After walks, has shown me splashes upon his trousers, and told me by their colour and consistence in what part of London he had received them.
  7. Knowledge of Chemistry – Profound.
  8. Knowledge of Anatomy – Accurate, but unsystematic.
  9. Knowledge of Sensational Literature – Immense. He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century.
  10. Plays the violin well.
  11. Is an expert singlestick player, boxer and swordsman.
  12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law.

Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet

At the end of A Study in Scarlet Holmes demonstrates a knowledge of Latin, presumably from his university studies. Later stories also contradict Watson's early assessment. Despite Holmes' supposed ignorance of politics, in "A Scandal in Bohemia" he immediately recognises the true identity of "Count von Kramm". His speech is peppered with references to the Bible, Shakespeare and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and the detective quotes a letter from Gustave Flaubert to George Sand in the original French. At the end of "A Case of Identity", Holmes quotes Hafez (not part of a contemporary English education). In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Holmes recognises works by Martin Knoller and Joshua Reynolds: "Excuse the admiration of a connoisseur .... Watson won't allow that I know anything of art, but that is mere jealousy, since our views upon the subject differ".

In "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans" Watson says that in November 1895 "Holmes lost himself in a monograph which he had undertaken upon the Polyphonic Motets of Lassus" (a field in which Holmes would have had to "clutter his memory" with an enormous amount of information which had nothing to do with crime-fighting), considered "the last word" on the subject.[44] The later stories abandon the notion that Holmes did not want to know anything not immediately relevant to his profession. In the second chapter of "The Valley of Fear" he says, "All knowledge comes useful to the detective", and near the end of "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane" the detective calls himself "an omnivorous reader with a strangely retentive memory for trifles". Holmes is a cryptanalyst, telling Watson in "The Adventure of the Dancing Men": "I am fairly familiar with all forms of secret writing, and am myself the author of a trifling monograph upon the subject, in which I analyse one hundred and sixty separate ciphers".[45] and breaking a cipher with frequency analysis.

The detective's analysis of physical evidence includes examining latent prints (such as footprints, hoof prints, and bicycle tracks) to identify actions at a crime scene ("A Study in Scarlet", "The Adventure of Silver Blaze", "The Adventure of the Priory School", The Hound of the Baskervilles, "The Boscombe Valley Mystery"); using tobacco ashes and cigarette butts to identify criminals ("The Adventure of the Resident Patient", "The Hound of the Baskervilles"); comparing typewritten letters to expose a fraud ("A Case of Identity"); using gunpowder residue to expose two murderers ("The Adventure of the Reigate Squire"); comparing bullets from two crime scenes ("The Adventure of the Empty House"), analyzing small pieces of human remains to expose two murders ("The Adventure of the Cardboard Box") and an early use of fingerprints ("The Norwood Builder"). Holmes demonstrates a knowledge of psychology in "A Scandal in Bohemia", where he lures Irene Adler into betraying where she hid a photograph based on the premise that an unmarried woman will save her most valued possession from a fire. Another example is in "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle", where Holmes obtains information from a salesman with a wager: "When you see a man with whiskers of that cut and the 'Pink ’un' protruding out of his pocket, you can always draw him by a bet ... I daresay that if I had put 100 pounds down in front of him, that man would not have given me such complete information as was drawn from him by the idea that he was doing me on a wager".


Sherlock Holmes in "The Adventure of the Abbey Grange."

Forensic science

Microscope by Seibert from the 19th century

Sherlock Holmes remains a great inspiration for forensic science in literature, especially for the way his acute study of a crime scene yields small clues as to the precise sequence of events. He makes great use of trace evidence such as shoe and tire impressions, as well as fingerprints, ballistics and handwriting analysis, now known as questioned document examination. Such evidence is used to test theories conceived by the police, for example, or by the investigator himself. All of the techniques advocated by Holmes later became reality, but were generally in their infancy at the time Conan Doyle was writing. In many of his reported cases, Holmes frequently complains of the way the crime scene has been contaminated by others, especially by the police, emphasising the critical importance of maintaining its integrity, a now well-known feature of crime scene examination.

Owing to the small scale of the trace evidence (such as tobacco ash, hair or fingerprints), he often uses a magnifying glass at the scene, and an optical microscope back at his lodgings in Baker Street. He uses analytical chemistry for blood residue analysis as well as toxicology examination and determination for poisons. Holmes seems to have maintained a small chemistry laboratory in his lodgings, presumably using simple wet chemical methods for detection of specific toxins, for example "The Adventure of the Naval Treaty". Ballistics is used when spent bullets can be recovered, and their calibre measured and matched with a suspected murder weapon, as in "The Adventure of the Empty House".

Holmes was also very perceptive of the dress and attitude of his clients and suspects, noting style and state of wear of their clothes, any contamination (such as clay on boots), their state of mind and physical condition in order to infer their origin and recent history. Skin marks such as tattoos could reveal much about their history. He applied the same method to personal items such as walking sticks (famously in "The Hound of the Baskervilles") or hats (in the case of "The Blue Carbuncle"), with small details such as medallions, wear and contamination yielding vital indicators of their absent owners.

In 2002, the Royal Society of Chemistry bestowed an honorary fellowship of their organisation upon Sherlock Holmes,[46] for his use of forensic science and analytical chemistry in popular literature, making him the only (as of 2010) fictional character to be thus honoured.

Role in the history of the detective story

Although Sherlock Holmes is not the original fictional detective (he was influenced by Edgar Allan Poe's C. Auguste Dupin and Émile Gaboriau's Monsieur Lecoq, for both of whom the character openly expressed disdain or contempt), his name has become a byword for the part. His stories also include several detective story characters, such as the loyal but less intelligent assistant, a role for which Dr. Watson has become the archetype. The investigating detective became a popular genre with many authors such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers after the demise of Holmes, with characters such as Hercule Poirot and Lord Peter Wimsey. Forensic methods became less important than the psychology of the criminal, despite the strong growth in forensics in use by the police in the early 20th century.

Scientific literature

Sherlock Holmes has occasionally been used in the scientific literature. John Radford (1999)[47] speculates on his intelligence. Using Conan Doyle's stories as data, Radford applies three different methods to estimate Sherlock Holmes's IQ, and concludes that his intelligence was very high indeed, estimated at approximately 190 points. Snyder (2004)[48] examines Holmes's methods in the light of the science and the criminology of the mid to late 19th century. Kempster (2006)[49] compares neurologists' skills with those displayed by Holmes. Finally, Didierjean and Gobet (2008)[50] reviewed the literature on the psychology of expertise by taking as model a fictional expert: Sherlock Holmes. They highlighted aspects of Doyle's books that are in line with what is currently known about expertise, aspects that are implausible, and aspects that suggest further research.


Sherlock Holmes Museum Sherlock Holmes study

"Elementary, my dear Watson"

The catchphrase "Elementary, my dear Watson" is never actually uttered by Holmes in any of the sixty Holmes stories written by Conan Doyle. In the stories, Holmes often remarks that his logical conclusions are "elementary", in that he considers them to be simple and obvious. He also, on occasion, refers to Dr. Watson as "my dear Watson". The two fragments, however, never appear together. One of the closest examples to this phrase appears in "The Adventure of the Crooked Man", when Holmes explains a deduction: "'Excellent!' I cried. 'Elementary,' said he."[51][52]

The phrase "Elementary, my dear fellow, quite elementary", though not spoken by Sherlock Holmes, is used in the book Psmith in the City (1909-1910) by P. G. Wodehouse.[52] The first known use of the exact phrase was in Wodehouse's 1915 novel Psmith, Journalist.[53] It also appears at the very end of the 1929 film, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, the first Sherlock Holmes sound film.[51] William Gillette, who played Holmes on stage and radio, had previously used the similar phrase, Oh, this is elementary, my dear fellow. The phrase might owe its household familiarity to its use in Edith Meiser's scripts for The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes radio series, broadcast from 1939 to 1947.[54]

Holmes speaks the exact phrase in the 1953 short story "The Adventure of the Red Widow" by Conan Doyle's son Adrian.[55]

"The Great Game"

Main article: Sherlockian game
Plan of 221B Baker Street by Russ Stutler.

The fifty-six short stories and four novels written by Conan Doyle are termed the "canon" by Sherlock Holmes fans. Early scholars of the canon included Ronald Knox[56] in Britain, who is credited with inventing "the Game",[57] and Christopher Morley in New York,[58] the latter having founded the Baker Street Irregulars, the first society devoted exclusively to the canon of Holmes, in 1934.[59]

The Sherlockian game (also known as the Holmesian game, the Great Game or simply the Game) is the pastime of attempting to resolve anomalies and clarify implied details about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson from the original stories and novels by Arthur Conan Doyle that make up the Canon. It treats Holmes and Watson as real people, with Conan Doyle serving as Watson's "literary agent", and uses aspects of the canonical stories combined with the history of the era of the tales' composition to construct fanciful biographies of the pair and to publish scholarly analyses from inside the Holmes universe.[57]

One of the areas analyzed within the Game is Holmes' birthdate. Morley's analysis argues that Holmes's birthday was 6 January 1854.[60][61] Author Laurie R. King has also speculated about Holmes's birth date, based on two of Conan Doyle's stories: "A Study in Scarlet" and ""The Gloria Scott" Adventure". Certain details in "'The Gloria Scott' Adventure" indicate Holmes finished his second and final year at university in either 1880 or 1885. Watson's own account of his wounding in the Second Afghan War and subsequent return to England in "A Study in Scarlet" place his moving in with Holmes in either early 1881 or 1882. Together, she contends that these suggest Holmes left university in 1880; if he began university at the age of 17, his birth year would likely be 1861.[62]

Another area of analysis is over what university Sherlock Holmes attended. Author Dorothy L. Sayers suggested that, given details in two of the Adventures, Holmes must have been at Cambridge rather than Oxford and that "of all the Cambridge colleges, Sidney Sussex (College) perhaps offered the greatest number of advantages to a man in Holmes's position and, in default of more exact information, we may tentatively place him there".[63]

Holmes's emotional state and mental health have been a topic of analysis within the Game for decades. At their first meeting in "A Study in Scarlet", the detective warns Watson that he gets "in the dumps at times" and doesn't open his "mouth for days on end". Many readers and literary experts[citation needed] have suggested Holmes showed signs of manic depression, with moments of intense enthusiasm coupled with instances of indolent self-absorption. Other modern readers have speculated that Holmes may have Asperger's syndrome based on his intense attention to details, lack of interest in interpersonal relationships, and tendency to speak in long monologues.[64] The detective's isolation and near-gynophobic distrust of women is said to suggest the desire to escape; Holmes "biographer" William Baring-Gould and others, including Nicholas Meyer, author of the Seven Percent Solution, have implied a severe family trauma (i.e. the murder of Holmes's mother) may be the root cause.

Writers have produced many pop culture references to Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle, or characters from the stories in homage, to a greater or lesser degree. Some have been overt, introducing Holmes as a character in a new setting, or a more subtle allusion, such as making a logical character live in an apartment at number 221B. One well-known example of this is the character Gregory House on the show House M.D, whose name and apartment number are both references to Holmes.

Often the simplest reference a writer can make is to portray anybody who does some kind of detective work in a deerstalker and Inverness cape. However, throughout the entire novel series, Holmes is never explicitly described as wearing a "deerstalker hat". Holmes dons "his ear-flapped travelling cap" in "The Adventure of Silver Blaze". Sidney Paget first drew Holmes wearing the deerstalker cap and Inverness cape in "The Boscombe Valley Mystery" and subsequently in several other stories.[citation needed]


Statue of Sherlock Holmes on Picardy Place in Edinburgh, Conan Doyle's birthplace. The statue shows Holmes wearing an Inverness cape and a deerstalker cap.

In 1934 the Sherlock Holmes Society in London and the Baker Street Irregulars in New York were founded. Both are still active (though the Sherlock Holmes Society was dissolved in 1937, to be resuscitated only in 1951). The London-based society is one of many worldwide who arrange visits to the scenes of the Sherlock Holmes adventures, such as the Reichenbach Falls in the Swiss Alps.

The two initial societies founded in 1934 were followed by many more Holmesians circles, first of all in America (where they are called "scion societies"—offshoots—of the Baker Street Irregulars), then in England and Denmark. Nowadays, there are Sherlockian societies in many countries, such as Australia, India and Japan.


During the 1951 Festival of Britain, Sherlock Holmes's sitting-room was reconstructed as the masterpiece of a Sherlock Holmes Exhibition, displaying a unique collection of original material.

After the 1951 exhibition closed, items were transferred to The Sherlock Holmes pub, in London, and to the Conan Doyle Collection in Lucens (Switzerland). Both exhibitions, each including its own Baker Street Sitting-Room reconstruction, are still open to the public. In 1990, the Sherlock Holmes Museum opened in Baker Street London and the following year in Meiringen, Switzerland another museum opened; naturally, they include less historical material about Conan Doyle than about Sherlock Holmes himself. The Sherlock Holmes Museum in Baker Street, London was the first Museum in the world to be dedicated to a fictional character. A private collection of Conan Doyle is also housed in the Portsmouth City Museum which has a permanent exhibit, due to his importance in the city where he lived and worked for many years.

Other honours

The London Metropolitan Railway named one of its 20 electric locomotives deployed in the 1920s after Sherlock Holmes. He was the only fictional character so honored, alongside fellow eminent Britons such as Lord Byron, Benjamin Disraeli, and Florence Nightingale.[65]

Many streets in London carry the legacy of Sherlock Holmes. York Mews South, situated just off Crawford Street, was renamed Sherlock Mews. There is also a Watson's Mews that is situated just off Crawford Place.[66]

Adaptations and derived works

The enduring popularity of Sherlock Holmes has led to hundreds of works based on the character – both adaptations into other media and original stories. The copyright in all of Conan Doyle's works expired in the United Kingdom in 1980 and are public domain there.[67] All works published in the United States prior to 1923 are in the public domain; this includes all Sherlock Holmes stories with the exception of some of the stories contained within The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes. For works published after 1923 but before 1963, if the copyright was registered, its term lasts for 95 years.[68] The Conan Doyle heirs registered the copyright to The Case Book (published in the USA after 1923) in 1981 through the Copyright Act of 1976.[67][69][70]

On 14 February 2013, noted Holmes scholar Leslie S. Klinger filed a declaratory judgement suit against the Conan Doyle estate in the Northern District of Illinois, asking that the court acknowledge that the characters of Holmes and Watson are in the public domain, no longer protected by copyright in the U.S.[71] The court ruled in Klinger's favor on 23 December 2013. The Seventh Circuit affirmed that decision on 16 June 2014.[72]

Stage, screen and radio adaptations

A film crew recreates the atmosphere of a Victorian London smog or pea-souper. This street scene is actually being filmed in the central courtyard of Somerset House, and the smog is artificially generated using a smoke machine.
Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes
Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes in the Granada Series

The Guinness World Records has consistently listed Sherlock Holmes as the "most portrayed movie character"[73] with more than 70 actors playing the part in over 200 films. Holmes's first screen appearance was in the Mutoscope film Sherlock Holmes Baffled in 1900, albeit in a barely recognisable form.[74] Sherlock Holmes has also been a prolific screen character in foreign language films, such as the Russian 2013 mini-series version broadcast in November 2013.[75]

William Gillette's 1899 play Sherlock Holmes, or The Strange Case of Miss Faulkner was a synthesis of several stories by Doyle, mostly based on A Scandal in Bohemia adding love interest, with the Holmes-Moriarty exchange from The Final Problem, as well as elements from The Copper Beeches and A Study in Scarlet. By 1916, Harry Arthur Saintsbury had played Holmes on stage more than a thousand times.[76] This play formed the basis for Gillette's 1916 motion picture, Sherlock Holmes, in which William Gillete introduced the famous curved pipe as a trademark of Holmes.

From 1921 to 1923, Stoll Pictures produced a series of silent black-and-white films based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. Forty-five short films and two feature length films were produced[77] featuring Eille Norwood in the role of Holmes and Hubert Willis cast as Dr. Watson with the exception of the final film, The Sign of Four, where Willis was replaced with Arthur Cullin. John Barrymore also played Holmes in a silent 1922 version entitled Sherlock Holmes, with Roland Young as Watson as well as the first film appearance of William Powell..

The first sound film to feature Sherlock Holmes was the sound-on-disk The Return of Sherlock Holmes, written by Basil Dean, and filmed in New York City in 1929.[78] The picture stars Clive Brook as Sherlock Holmes. A silent version of the film was also produced to accommodate theaters which did not feature sound.[78]

Basil Rathbone starred as Sherlock Holmes alongside Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson in fourteen US films (two for 20th Century Fox and a dozen for Universal Pictures) from 1939 to 1946, as well as the radio show "The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" on the Mutual Broadcasting System from 1939 to 1946 before passing the role to Tom Conway. The 1939 20th Century Fox Hound of the Baskervilles contains an unusually direct reference to Holmes's drug use in the last line of the film, "Watson, the needle". The Universal Pictures are distinctive for being set in the then contemporary post-World War II era.

Ronald Howard starred in 39 episodes of the Sherlock Holmes 1954 American TV series with Howard Marion Crawford as Watson. The storylines deviated from the books of Conan Doyle, changing characters and other details.

In 1959, Peter Cushing starred in Hammer Film Productions' The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), marking Holmes's first screen appearance in colour. He would return to the role several times in both film and television performances.

Fritz Weaver appeared as Sherlock Holmes in the musical Baker Street, which ran on Broadway between 16 February and 14 November 1965. Peter Sallis portrayed Dr. Watson, Inga Swenson appeared as The Woman, Irene Adler, and Martin Gabel played Moriarty. Virginia Vestoff, Tommy Tune, and Christopher Walken were also members of the original cast.[79]

Roger Moore played the detective in the 1976 film Sherlock Holmes in New York alongside Patrick Macnee as Watson.

Director Billy Wilder had long planned a roadshow motion picture about Holmes, in which he planned to have Peter O'Toole as Holmes and Peter Sellers as Watson. However, when The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes finally reached the screen in 1970, the roles had been given to Robert Stephens and Colin Blakely. The film was heavily edited after its release and parts of it are now lost.[citation needed]

In The Return Of Sherlock Holmes, a TV movie aired in 1987, Margaret Colin stars as Dr. Watson's great-granddaughter Jane Watson, a Boston private eye, who stumbles upon Sherlock Holmes's (played by Michael Pennington) body in frozen suspension and restores the Victorian sleuth to life in the 1980s. The film was intended as a pilot for a TV series which never materialised. A similar plot line was used in 1994 Baker Street: Sherlock Holmes Returns where Dr Amy Winslow (played by Debrah Farentino) discovers Sherlock Holmes frozen in the cellar of house in San Francisco owned by a descendant of Mrs. Hudson. Holmes (played by Anthony Higgins) froze himself in the hopes that crimes in the future would be less dull. He discovers that consulting detectives have been replaced by the police department's forensic science lab and that the Moriarty family are still the Napoleons of crime.

Jeremy Brett is considered by critic Julian Wolfreys to be the definitive Holmes,[80] having played the role in four series of Sherlock Holmes, created by John Hawkesworth for Britain's Granada Television, from 1984 through to 1994, as well as depicting Holmes on stage. Brett's Dr. Watson was played by David Burke (pre-hiatus) and Edward Hardwicke (post-hiatus) in the series.

Sculpture of Holmes and Watson, as portrayed in the Soviet series, at the UK embassy in Moscow

Nicol Williamson portrayed Holmes in The Seven-Per-Cent Solution with Robert Duvall playing Watson and featuring Alan Arkin as Sigmund Freud. The 1976 adaptation was written by Nicholas Meyer from his 1974 book of the same name, and directed by Herbert Ross.

Bob Clark directed Christopher Plummer and James Mason in the 1979 created film Murder by Decree, which followed Holmes, hunting Jack the Ripper.

Between 1979 and 1986, Soviet television broadcast a series of five made-for-TV films in a total of eleven parts, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, starring Vasily Livanov as Holmes and Vitaly Solomin as Watson. In 2006, Queen Elizabeth awarded Livanov an MBE (Order of the British Empire) for his work as Sherlock Holmes.

Christopher Lee starred as Holmes in three screen adaptations, namely Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1962), Incident at Victoria Falls (1991) and Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (1992) together with Morgan Fairchild as "The Woman".

The only actors to have portrayed Holmes and Watson in adaptations of every Doyle story are Clive Merrison and Michael Williams, who played the detective and the doctor respectively in a BBC Radio 4 series which ran from 1989 until 1998.[81]

Related and derivative works

In addition to the Sherlock Holmes corpus, Conan Doyle's "The Lost Special" (1898) features an unnamed "amateur reasoner" clearly intended to be identified as Holmes by his readers. His explanation for a baffling disappearance, argued in Holmes's characteristic style, turns out to be quite wrong—evidently Conan Doyle was not above poking fun at his own hero. A short story by Conan Doyle using the same idea is "The Man with the Watches". Another example of Conan Doyle's humour is "How Watson Learned the Trick" (1924), a parody of the frequent Watson–Holmes breakfast table scenes. A further (and earlier) parody by Conan Doyle is "The Field Bazaar". He also wrote other material, especially plays, featuring Holmes. Many of these are collected in Sherlock Holmes: The Published Apocrypha edited by Jack Tracy, The Final Adventures of Sherlock Holmes edited by Peter Haining and The Uncollected Sherlock Holmes compiled by Richard Lancelyn Green.

Starting in 1907, Sherlock Holmes was featured in a series of German booklets. Among the writers was Theo van Blankensee. Watson had been replaced by a 19-year-old assistant from the street, among his Baker Street Irregulars, with the name Harry Taxon, and Mrs. Hudson had been replaced by one Mrs. Bonnet. From number 10, the series changed its name to "Aus den Geheimakten des Welt-Detektivs". The French edition changed its name from "Les Dossiers Secrets de Sherlock Holmes" to "Les Dossiers du Roi des Detectives".[82]

Reissue poster for The Mystery of the Leaping Fish (1916)

Sherlock Holmes's abilities as both a good fighter and an excellent logician has been a boon to other authors who have lifted his name, or details of his exploits, for their plots. These range from Holmes as a cocaine addict, whose drug-fuelled fantasies lead him to cast an innocent Professor Moriarty as a super villain (The Seven-Per-Cent Solution), to science-fiction plots involving him being re-animated after death to fight crime in the future (Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century). Douglas Fairbanks stars as cocaine-addicted detective "Coke Ennyday" in a 1916 comedy co-written by Tod Browning entitled The Mystery of the Leaping Fish.

Some authors have supplied stories to fit the tantalising references in the canon to unpublished cases (e.g. "The giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared" in "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire"), notably The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes by Conan Doyle's son Adrian Conan Doyle with John Dickson Carr, and The Lost Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Ken Greenwald, based rather closely on episodes of the 1945 Sherlock Holmes radio show that starred Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce and for which scripts were written by Dennis Green and Anthony Boucher. Others have used different characters from the stories as their own detective, e.g. Mycroft Holmes in Enter the Lion by Michael P. Hodel and Sean M. Wright (1979) or Dr. James Mortimer (from The Hound of the Baskervilles) in books by Gerard Williams.

Laurie R. King recreated Sherlock Holmes in her Mary Russell series (starting with The Beekeeper's Apprentice), set during the First World War and the 1920s. Her Holmes is (semi-)retired in Sussex, where he is literally stumbled over by a teenage American girl. Recognising a kindred spirit, he gradually trains her as his apprentice and subsequently marries her. As of 2012, the series includes twelve novels and a novella tie-in with a book from King's present-time Kate Martinelli series, The Art of Detection.

Carole Nelson Douglas' series, the Irene Adler Adventures, is based on the character from Doyle's "A Scandal in Bohemia". The first book, Good Night, Mr. Holmes, retells that tale from Irene's point of view. The series is narrated by Adler's companion, Penelope Huxleigh, in a role similar to that of Dr. Watson.

The film They Might Be Giants is a 1971 romantic comedy based on the 1961 play of the same name (both written by James Goldman) in which the character Justin Playfair, played by George C. Scott, is convinced he is Sherlock Holmes, and manages to convince many others of same, including the psychiatrist Dr. Watson, played by Joanne Woodward, who is assigned to determine if he should be committed to a mental institution.

The film Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) explores adventures of Holmes and Watson as boarding school pupils.[83]

The 1984-1985 Japanese anime series Sherlock Hound adapted the Holmes stories for children and had the characters portrayed as anthropomorphic dogs. The series was co-directed by Hayao Miyazaki, who later went on to direct the Oscar winning film Spirited Away.[84] The Japanese anime series Detective Conan, also called Case Closed in English, is an homage to Doyle's work.

In 1988, Ben Kingsley played Dr. Watson in Without a Clue. In this film, the comic premise is that Dr. Watson is actually a brilliant detective, and that he has hired an actor, Sherlock Holmes (Michael Caine), to take credit for the cases that Watson has been writing about, to draw attention away from himself. The powerful criminal Dr. Moriarty is said to know that Sherlock Holmes has no abilities as a detective whatsoever.

In the 2002 made-for-television movie Sherlock: Case of Evil, James D'Arcy starred as Holmes in his 20s. The story noticeably departs from the style and backstory of the canon and D'Arcy's portrayal of Holmes is slightly different from prior incarnations of the character, psychologically disturbed, an absinthe addicted, a heavy alcohol consumer and a ladies' man.

The novel A Dog About Town by J. F. Englert makes reference to Sherlock Holmes, comparing the black Labrador retriever narrator, Randolph, to Doyle's detective as well as naming a fictitious spirit guide after him.[85]

The Final Solution is a 2004 novel by Michael Chabon. The story, set in 1944, revolves around an 89-year-old long-retired detective who may or may not be Sherlock Holmes, but is always called just "the old man", now interested mostly in beekeeping, and his quest to find a missing parrot, the only friend of a mute Jewish boy. The title references both Doyle's story "The Final Problem" and the Final Solution, the Nazis' plan for the genocide of the Jewish people.

In 2008, Holmes was featured in the episode "Trials of the Demon" from Batman: The Brave and the Bold.[86][87]

In the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes, based on a story by Lionel Wigram and images by John Watkiss,[88] directed by Guy Ritchie, the role of Holmes is performed by Robert Downey, Jr. with Jude Law portraying Watson. It is a reinterpretation which focuses on Holmes's more anti-social personality traits as an unkempt eccentric with a brilliant analytical mind and formidable martial abilities. Robert Downey Jr. won the Golden Globe Award for his portrayal.[89] Both Downey Jr. and Law returned in the 2011 sequel, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays a modern-day version of the detective, with Martin Freeman as Watson, in the BBC One TV series Sherlock, which premiered on 25 July 2010. The series changes the books' original Victorian setting to the shady and violent present-day London. The show was created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, best known as writers for the BBC television series Doctor Who. Says Moffat, "Conan Doyle's stories were never about frock coats and gas light; they're about brilliant detection, dreadful villains and blood-curdling crimes – and frankly, to hell with the crinoline. Other detectives have cases, Sherlock Holmes has adventures, and that's what matters." Cumberbatch's Holmes also uses modern technology, such as texting and blogging, to solve crimes,[90] and in a nod towards changing smoking legislation, he has replaced his pipe with multiple nicotine patches, as London has forbidden smoking in most public areas, yet this interpretation of Holmes still finds nicotine to help the cognitive process.[91]

In June 2010, it was announced that Franklin Watts books, a part of Hachette Children's Books are to release a series of four children's graphic novels by writer Tony Lee and artist Dan Boultwood in spring 2011 based around the Baker Street Irregulars during the three years that Sherlock Holmes was believed dead, between The Final Problem and The Adventure of the Empty House. Although not specifying whether Sherlock Holmes actually appears in the books, the early reports include appearances by Doctor Watson, Inspector Lestrade and Irene Adler.

Independent film company The Asylum released the direct-to-DVD film Sherlock Holmes in January 2010. In the film, Holmes and Watson battle a criminal mastermind dubbed "Spring-Heeled Jack". Holmes (Ben Syder) is portrayed as considerably younger than most actors who have played him, and his disapproval of Scotland Yard is undertoned[clarification needed], though things like his drug addiction remain mostly unchanged. Throughout the film, it is hinted that Holmes is strongly addicted to tobacco. The film features a brother of Holmes's called Thorpe, who was invented by the producers. His companion Watson is played by Torchwood actor Gareth David-Lloyd.

Sherlock Holmes has also appeared in video games. Most successful to date[citation needed] is the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes video game series which comprises six main titles. Holmes in this video game series was based upon Jeremy Brett, and presents an original story and plot that isn't based upon any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's works.

In 2011, Anthony Horowitz, author of the Alex Rider novels, The Power of Five and TV's Foyle's War, published a new "authorised" Sherlock Holmes novel: The House of Silk, commissioned by the Conan Doyle estate. The novel is presented as a continuation of Conan Doyle's work and is narrated by Dr. Watson.[92] In 2014, a sequel was announced entitled Moriarty , but with Sherlock Holmes only making an appearance towards the end of the novel.[93]

On 27 September 2012, Elementary, premiered on CBS. It takes place in modern-day New York starring Jonny Lee Miller as recovering British drug addict Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson.



Short story collections

The short stories, originally published in magazines, were later collected in five anthologies:

See also


  1. ^ Lycett, Andrew (2007). The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes: The Life and Times of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Free Press. pp. 53–54, 190. ISBN 978-0-7432-7523-1. 
  2. ^ Barring-Gould, William S. The Annotated Sherlock Holmes. Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. p. 8. ISBN 0-517-50291-7. 
  3. ^ Doyle, A. Conan (1961). The Boys' Sherlock Holmes, New & Enlarged Edition. Harper & Row. p. 88. 
  4. ^ Klinger, Leslie (2005). The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes. New York: W.W. Norton. p. xlii. ISBN 0-393-05916-2. 
  5. ^ a b c Doyle, Arthur Conan (1893). The Original illustrated 'Strand' Sherlock Holmes (1989 ed.). Ware, England: Wordsworth. pp. 354–355. ISBN 978-1-85326-896-0. 
  6. ^ "The Adventure of the Gloria Scott"
  7. ^ The Sign of the Four; Chapter 1 The Science of Deduction; p. 90; Copyright Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle; Edition published in 1992 – Barnes & Noble, Inc.".
  8. ^ "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs"
  9. ^ Dakin, D. Martin (1972). A Sherlock Holmes Commentary. David & Charles, Newton Abbot. ISBN 0-7153-5493-0. 
  10. ^ McQueen, Ian (1974). Sherlock Holmes Detected. David & Charles, Newton Abbot. ISBN 0-7153-6453-7. 
  11. ^ Riggs, Ransom (2009). The Sherlock Holmes Handbook. The methods and mysteries of the world's greatest detective. Philadelphia: Quirk Books. pp. 115–118. ISBN 978-1-59474-429-7. 
  12. ^ Conan Doyle, Arthur (1903). "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder", Strand Magazine.
  13. ^ The Hound of the Baskervilles
  14. ^ "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton" and "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client"
  15. ^ "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans" and "The Adventure of the Naval Treaty".
  16. ^ In The Adventure of the Naval Treaty, Holmes remarks that, of his last fifty-three cases, the police have had all the credit in forty-nine.
  17. ^ "The Adventure of the Reigate Squire" and "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client" are two examples.
  18. ^ "The Adventure of the Second Stain"
  19. ^ "A Scandal in Bohemia"
  20. ^ "The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez"
  21. ^ "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor"
  22. ^ The Hound of the Baskervilles and "The Adventure of Black Peter"
  23. ^ See, for example, Inspector Lestrade at the end of "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder".
  24. ^ Dalby, J.T. (1991). "Sherlock Holmes's Cocaine Habit". Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine 8: 73–74. 
  25. ^ "The Sign of Four"
  26. ^ "Sherlock Holmes Quotes". The Chronicles of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  27. ^ "Quotes". The Chronicles of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  28. ^ Liebow, Ely (1982). Dr. Joe Bell: Model for Sherlock Holmes. Popular Press. p. 173. ISBN 9780879721985. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  29. ^ Conan Doyle, Arthur (1986). The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume 2. Bantam Books. p. 480. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  30. ^ "Sherlock Holmes Adventures". Discovering Arthur Conan Doyle. Archived from the original on 17 December 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  31. ^ a b Alexander Bird (27 June 2006). "Abductive Knowledge and Holmesian Inference". In Tamar Szabo Gendler and John Hawthorne. Oxford studies in epistemology. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-19-928590-7. 
  32. ^ Sebeok & Umiker-Sebeok 1984, pp. 19–28, esp. p. 22
  33. ^ A Study in Scarlet
  34. ^ Matthew Bunson (19 October 1994). Encyclopedia Sherlockiana. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-671-79826-0. 
  35. ^ Jonathan Smith (1994). Fact and feeling: Baconian science and the nineteenth-Century literary imagination. p. 214. ISBN 978-0-299-14354-1. 
  36. ^ "Sherlock Holmes Quotes". Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  37. ^ "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle".
  38. ^ a b "The Adventure of the Yellow Face"
  39. ^ The Hound of the Baskervilles
  40. ^ Arthur Conan Doyle (1891). A Scandal in Bohemia. 
  41. ^ a b c d "The Guns of Sherlock Holmes". Retrieved 27 April 2012. 
  42. ^ See "The Red-Headed League" and "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client".
  43. ^ "The Mystery of Baritsu". The Bartitsu Society. Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  44. ^ Klinger, Leslie (1999). "Lost in Lassus: The missing monograph". Retrieved 20 October 2008. 
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Further reading

  • Accardo, Pasquale J. (1987). Diagnosis and Detection: Medical Iconography of Sherlock Holmes. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. ISBN 0-517-50291-7. 
  • Baring-Gould, William (1967). The Annotated Sherlock Holmes. New York: Clarkson N. Potter. ISBN 0-517-50291-7. 
  • Baring-Gould, William (1962). Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street: The Life of the World's First Consulting Detective. New York: Clarkson N. Potter. OCLC 63103488. 
  • Blakeney, T.S. (1994). Sherlock Holmes: Fact or Fiction?. London: Prentice Hall & IBD. ISBN 1-883402-10-7. 
  • Bradley, Alan (2004). Ms Holmes of Baker Street: The Truth About Sherlock. Alberta: University of Alberta Press. ISBN 0-88864-415-9. 
  • Campbell, Mark (2007). Sherlock Holmes. London: Pocket Essentials. ISBN 978-0-470-12823-7. 
  • Dakin, David (1972). A Sherlock Holmes Commentary. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-5493-0. 
  • Duncan, Alistair (2008). Eliminate the Impossible: An Examination of the World of Sherlock Holmes on Page and Screen. London: MX Publishing. ISBN 978-1-904312-31-4. 
  • Duncan, Alistair (2009). Close to Holmes: A Look at the Connections Between Historical London, Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. London: MX Publishing. ISBN 978-1-904312-50-5. 
  • Duncan, Alistair (2010). The Norwood Author: Arthur Conan Doyle and the Norwood Years (1891–1894). London: MX Publishing. ISBN 978-1-904312-69-7. 
  • Fenoli Marc, Qui a tué Sherlock Holmes ? [Who shot Sherlock Holmes ?], Review L'Alpe 45, Glénat-Musée Dauphinois, Grenoble-France, 2009. ISBN 978-2-7234-6902-9
  • Green, Richard Lancelyn (1987). The Sherlock Holmes Letters. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press. ISBN 0-87745-161-3. 
  • Hall, Trevor (1969). Sherlock Holmes: Ten Literary Studies. London: Duckworth. ISBN 0-7156-0469-4. 
  • Hall, Trevor (1977). Sherlock Holmes and his creator. New York: St Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-71719-9. 
  • Hammer, David (1995). The Before-Breakfast Pipe of Mr. Sherlock Holmes. London: Wessex Pr. ISBN 0-938501-21-6. 
  • Harrison, Michael (1973). The World of Sherlock Holmes. London: Frederick Muller Ltd. 
  • Jones, Kelvin (1987). Sherlock Holmes and the Kent Railways. Sittingborne, Kent: Meresborough Books. ISBN 0-948193-25-5. 
  • Keating, H. R. F. (2006). Sherlock Holmes: The Man and His World. Edison, NJ: Castle. ISBN 0-7858-2112-0. 
  • Kestner, Joseph (1997). Sherlock's Men: Masculinity, Conan Doyle and Cultural History. Farnham: Ashgate. ISBN 1-85928-394-2. 
  • King, Joseph A. (1996). Sherlock Holmes: From Victorian Sleuth to Modern Hero. Lanham, US: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-3180-5. 
  • Klinger, Leslie (2005). The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes. New York: W.W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-05916-2. 
  • Klinger, Leslie (1998). The Sherlock Holmes Reference Library. Indianapolis: Gasogene Books. ISBN 0-938501-26-7. 
  • Lester, Paul (1992). Sherlock Holmes in the Midlands. Studley, Warwickshire: Brewin Books. ISBN 0-947731-85-7. 
  • Lieboe, Eli. Doctor Joe Bell: Model for Sherlock Holmes. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1982; Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-87972-198-5
  • Mitchelson, Austin (1994). The Baker Street Irregular: Unauthorised Biography of Sherlock Holmes. Romford: Ian Henry Publications Ltd. ISBN 0-8021-4325-3. 
  • Payne, David S. (1992). Myth and Modern Man in Sherlock Holmes: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Uses of Nostalgia. Bloomington, Ind: Gaslight's Publications. ISBN 0-934468-29-X. 
  • Redmond, Christopher (1987). In Bed with Sherlock Holmes: Sexual Elements in Conan Doyle's Stories. London: Players Press. ISBN 0-8021-4325-3. 
  • Redmond, Donald (1983). Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Sources. Quebec: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 0-7735-0391-9. 
  • Rennison, Nick (2007). Sherlock Holmes. The Unauthorized Biography. London: Grove Press. ISBN 978-0-8021-4325-9. 
  • Richards, Anthony John (1998). Holmes, Chemistry and the Royal Institution: A Survey of the Scientific Works of Sherlock Holmes and His Relationship with the Royal Institution of Great Britain. London: Irregulars Special Press. ISBN 0-7607-7156-1. 
  • Riley, Dick (2005). The Bedside Companion to Sherlock Holmes. New York: Barnes & Noble Books. ISBN 0-7607-7156-1. 
  • Riley, Peter (2005). The Highways and Byways of Sherlock Holmes. London: P.&D. Riley. ISBN 978-1-874712-78-7. 
  • Roy, Pinaki (Department of English, Malda College) (2008). The Manichean Investigators: A Postcolonial and Cultural Rereading of the Sherlock Holmes and Byomkesh Bakshi Stories. New Delhi: Sarup and Sons. ISBN 978-81-7625-849-4. 
  • Sebeok, Thomas; Umiker-Sebeok, Jean (1984). "'You Know My Method': A Juxtaposition of Charles S. Peirce and Sherlock Holmes". In Eco, Umberto; Sebeok, Thomas. The Sign of Three: Dupin, Holmes, Peirce. Bloomington, IN: History Workshop, Indiana University Press. pp. 11–54. ISBN 978-0-253-35235-4. OCLC 9412985.  Previously published as chapter 2, pp. 17–52 of Sebeok, Thomas (1981). The Play of Musement. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-39994-6. LCCN 80008846. OCLC 7275523. 
  • Shaw, John B. (1995). Encyclopedia of Sherlock Holmes: A Complete Guide to the World of the Great Detective. London: Pavillion Books. ISBN 1-85793-502-0. 
  • Smith, Daniel (2009). The Sherlock Holmes Companion: An Elementary Guide. London: Aurum Press. ISBN 978-1-84513-458-7. 
  • Starrett, Vincent (1993). The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. London: Prentice Hall & IBD. ISBN 978-1-883402-05-1. 
  • Tracy, Jack (1988). The Sherlock Holmes Encyclopedia: Universal Dictionary of Sherlock Holmes. London: Crescent Books. ISBN 0-517-65444-X. 
  • Tracy, Jack (1996). Subcutaneously, My Dear Watson: Sherlock Holmes and the Cocaine Habit. Bloomington, Ind.: Gaslight Publications. ISBN 0-934468-25-7. 
  • Wagner, E.J. (2007). La Scienza di Sherlock Holmes. Torino: Bollati Boringheri. ISBN 978-0-470-12823-7. 
  • Weller, Philip (1993). The Life and Times of Sherlock Holmes. Simsbury: Bracken Books. ISBN 1-85891-106-0. 
  • Wexler, Bruce (2008). The Mysterious World of Sherlock Holmes. London: Running Press. ISBN 978-0-7624-3252-3. 

External links