Inspector Lestrade

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Inspector Lestrade
Sherlock Holmes character
The Adventure of the Cardboard Box 06.jpg
Inspector Lestrade (left) arresting a suspect in "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box", illustrated by Sidney Paget
First appearanceA Study in Scarlet (1887)
Last appearance"The Adventure of the Three Garridebs" (1924)
Created byArthur Conan Doyle
In-universe information
Full nameG. Lestrade
TitleDetective Inspector
OccupationPolice detective

Detective Inspector G. Lestrade, or Mr. Lestrade ( /lɛˈstrd/ or /lɛˈstrɑːd/),[1] is a fictional character appearing in several of the Sherlock Holmes stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle. Lestrade's first appearance was in the first Sherlock Holmes story, the novel A Study in Scarlet, which was published in 1887. The last story in which he appears is the short story "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs", which was first published in 1924 and was included in the final collection of Sherlock Holmes stories by Doyle, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.

Lestrade is a determined but conventional Scotland Yard detective who consults Sherlock Holmes on many cases, and is the most prominent police character in the Sherlock Holmes series. Lestrade has been played by many actors in adaptations based on the Sherlock Holmes stories in film, television, and other media.

Appearances in canon[edit]

Case Date of
A Study in Scarlet 1887 London
"The Boscombe Valley Mystery" 1891 Herefordshire
"The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor" 1892 London
"The Adventure of the Cardboard Box" 1893 Croydon
The Hound of the Baskervilles 1901 Devon
"The Adventure of the Empty House" 1903 London
"The Adventure of the Norwood Builder" 1903 South Norwood
"The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton" 1904 Hampstead, London
"The Adventure of the Six Napoleons" 1904 London
"The Adventure of the Second Stain" 1904 London
"The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans" 1908 Woolwich
"The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax" 1911 Lausanne
"The Adventure of the Three Garridebs" 1924 Edgware Road, London

Lestrade is also mentioned in the novel The Sign of the Four (1890), though he doesn't appear in it.

Fictional character biography[edit]

History and personality[edit]

Lestrade mentions his "twenty years' experience" in the police force in A Study in Scarlet.[2] In the story, Holmes says Lestrade is "a well-known detective".[3] It is observed by Holmes that Lestrade and another detective, Tobias Gregson, have an ongoing rivalry, and he identifies the two as "the pick of a bad lot. They are both quick and energetic, but conventional – shockingly so."[3] Holmes regularly allows members of the police to take the credit for his deductions,[4] including Lestrade in cases such as those in "The Adventure of the Empty House"[5] and "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder".[6] Lestrade is able to write in shorthand.[3]

Lestrade is initially doubtful about Holmes's methods, and he suggests that Holmes is "too much inclined to be cocksure" in "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder".[4] He is "indifferent and contemptuous" of Holmes's exploration in "The Boscombe Valley Mystery".[7] Holmes is openly rude about Lestrade at times, such as in "The Boscombe Valley Mystery" when he tells Lestrade "demurely" that he is unskilled at handling facts, and refers to Lestrade as an imbecile.[4] In The Sign of the Four, Holmes says that being out of his depth is Lestrade's normal state (along with Inspectors Gregson and Athelney Jones).[8] However, Holmes is generally more positive about Lestrade in later stories. In "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box", Holmes remarks that Lestrade's tenacity "has brought him to the top at Scotland Yard".[4] In The Hound of the Baskervilles, he says that Lestrade is "the best of the professionals" (meaning the professionals employed by Scotland Yard as opposed to himself),[4] and in the same story, Watson observes "from the reverential way in which Lestrade gazed at my companion that he had learned a good deal since the days when they had first worked together."[9]

By the time of the story "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons", Lestrade is a regular evening visitor at 221B Baker Street, and "his visits were welcome to Sherlock Holmes" according to Watson. In the same story, Lestrade reveals the high regard in which Holmes is now held by Scotland Yard: "We're not jealous of you at Scotland Yard. No, sir, we are very proud of you, and if you come down to-morrow, there's not a man, from the oldest inspector to the youngest constable, who wouldn't be glad to shake you by the hand".[4] Holmes thanks Lestrade for this comment, and Watson notes that this is one of the few instances when Holmes is visibly moved.[10] In "The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax", Holmes refers to him as "friend Lestrade".[11] Lestrade's involvement in the investigation in "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans" suggests he has become one of Scotland Yard's most trusted detectives.[12]

He was described by H. Paul Jeffers in the following words:

He is the most famous detective ever to walk the corridors of Scotland Yard, yet he existed only in the fertile imagination of a writer. He was Inspector Lestrade. We do not know his first name, only his initial: G. Although he appears thirteen times in the immortal adventures of Sherlock Holmes, nothing is known of the life outside the Yard of the detective whom Dr. Watson described unflatteringly as sallow, rat-faced, and dark-eyed and whom Holmes saw as quick and energetic but wholly conventional, lacking in imagination, and normally out of his depth – the best of a bad lot who had reached the top in the CID by bulldog tenacity.[13]

Appearance and age[edit]

Inspector Lestrade is described as "a little sallow rat-faced, dark-eyed fellow" in A Study in Scarlet.[3] In "The Boscombe Valley Mystery", Watson describes Lestrade as "a lean, ferret-like man, furtive and sly-looking", and also says, "In spite of the light brown dustcoat and leather-leggings which he wore in deference to his rustic surroundings, I had no difficulty in recognising Lestrade, of Scotland Yard."[8] Watson states that Lestrade is "as wiry, as dapper, and as ferret-like as ever" in "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box".[14] He is described as "a small, wiry bulldog of a man" in The Hound of the Baskervilles, and there is a description of him as having "bulldog features" in "The Adventure of the Second Stain".[10] According to Holmes in "The Boscombe Valley Mystery", Lestrade's tracks can be identified due to the "inward twist" of his left foot.[15]

His age is not given in the stories. Lestrade works with Holmes as early as A Study in Scarlet (which according to Leslie S. Klinger takes place in 1881[16]) and continues to do so as late as "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs" (which is set in 1902). According to Klinger, L. S. Holstein used this information to conclude that Lestrade is ten to twelve years older than Holmes.[17][18] Klinger estimated that Holmes was born in 1854;[16] together with Holstein's theory, this would suggest that Lestrade may have been born between 1842 and 1844.

Name origins and pronunciation[edit]

Doyle seems to have acquired Lestrade's name from a fellow student at the University of Edinburgh, Joseph Alexandre Lestrade,[19] who was a Saint Lucian medical student.[20] In "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box", Lestrade's first initial is revealed to be G.[17] This initial may have been inspired by the Prefect of Police known only as "G—" in Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Purloined Letter" (1845).[19] Despite having an apparently French surname (there is a village named Lestrade-et-Thouels in France and "l'estrade" means "the raised platform" in French), Inspector Lestrade shows no overt French ties.

According to Everyman's English Pronouncing Dictionary, the name Lestrade can be pronounced either "Le'strayed" (rhyming with "trade") or "Le'strahd" /ləˈstrɑːd/ .[1] In The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, Leslie S. Klinger writes that there is no consensus among scholars on the pronunciation of "Lestrade".[17] The original French pronunciation of the name would have been close to "Le'strahd". However, according to the book The Sherlock Holmes Miscellany by Roger Johnson and Jean Upton (Holmesian scholars and members of The Baker Street Irregulars), Arthur Conan Doyle's daughter Dame Jean Conan Doyle stated that her father pronounced the name with a long a sound (as "Le'strayed").[21]

The pronunciation of Lestrade as "Le'strahd" has been used in multiple adaptations such as the 1939–1946 film series,[22] the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes,[23] and the television series Sherlock (2010–2017).[24] The pronunciation of the name as "Le'strayed" has also been used in multiple canonical adaptations, including the 1931–1937 film series,[25] the Granada television series (1984–1994),[26] and the BBC radio series (1989–1998),[27] as well as in some non-canonical works, including the 2020 film Enola Holmes.

Depiction in derivatives and adaptations[edit]


Television films[edit]

Television series[edit]



  • Lestrade was played by several actors in The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes including Frederick Worlock and Bernard Lenrow.[54]
  • In adaptations that were broadcast on the BBC Home Service and the BBC Light Programme, Lestrade was played by multiple actors including John Cazabon and Humphrey Morton.[55]
  • Donald Gee played Inspector Giles Lestrade throughout most of the entire BBC Radio canon opposite Clive Merrison's Holmes beginning with the November 1989 broadcast of A Study in Scarlet and ending with the October 13th 1993 broadcast of "The Second Stain". Stephen Thorne took over the role beginning with the January 12th 1994 broadcast of "The Cardboard Box" and ending in the March 29th 1995 broadcast of "The Retired Colourman"; he returned to the role in the BBC Radio series The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes June 15, 2004 broadcast of "The Striking Success of Miss Franny Blossom", the January 2nd 2009 broadcast of "The Eye of Horus" and the January 16th 2009 broadcast of "The Ferrers Documents".
  • Rick May voiced Lestrade in the American radio series The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in episodes released from 1998 to 2020, and also portrayed Lestrade in the related radio series The Classic Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (2005–2016).
  • James Fleet portrayed Lestrade as the lead character in the BBC Radio 4 drama series called The Rivals in 2011. Each episode had Lestrade team up with a different fictional Victorian detective, Sherlock Holmes' "Rivals" in the field. The series returned in 2013, but the role of Lestrade was recast and played by Tim Pigott-Smith due to James Fleet's non-availability. Fleet returned to play Lestrade when The Rivals was renewed for a third series in 2015 and a fourth series in 2016.

Video games[edit]


  • In the 1979 book Sherlock Holmes: The Man and His World by H. R. F. Keating, Keating notes that despite Holmes' accusations of his lack of observational skills, he knows Holmes craves the outré and uses this to collect his interest in the case of "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons".[57]
  • The author M. J. Trow wrote a series of seventeen books using Lestrade as the central character, beginning with The Adventures of Inspector Lestrade in 1985. In these stories, Trow shows Lestrade to be a more than capable detective. He is given a first name, "Sholto", a young daughter whom he seldom sees, and a series of adventures set against a historical backdrop. In one book Lestrade meets G. K. Chesterton and in another he suffers a broken leg in a fall from the gangplank of the RMS Titanic.
  • In the novel The Canary Trainer (1993), Sherlock Holmes uses "Inspector Lestrade" as an alias while investigating the phantom of the Paris Opera while incognito.
  • Lestrade is a recurring character in the Moonstone Books versions of Sherlock Holmes adventures. His "We're proud of you" speech is adapted for a scene in Holmes' birthday in "Return of the Devil" (2004).
  • He appears in the book series The Boy Sherlock Holmes (2007–2012) as the son of a ferret-faced inspector by the same name who dislikes Sherlock greatly.
  • Holmes also used the alias Inspector Lestrade in the pastiche, The Counterfeit Detective (2016) by Stuart Douglas.
  • Lestrade is briefly mentioned in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume I.
  • In the blaxploitation comic book series Watson and Holmes, Lestrade is re-imagined as Detective Leslie Straude, one of the series' few white recurring characters. Other than the gender swap and name change, she is very similar to the original character.

In popular culture[edit]

Agatha Christie modelled her police detective character Inspector Japp, who appears in the stories featuring private detective Hercule Poirot, after Inspector Lestrade.[58] Similar to Lestrade, Japp is described as "a little, sharp, dark, ferret-faced man" in Christie's 1920 novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles.[59] In her autobiography, Christie stated that she wrote her early Poirot stories "in the Sherlock Holmes tradition—eccentric detective, stooge assistant, with a Lestrade-type Scotland Yard detective, Inspector Japp".[60]

A search engine, the Inspector Lestrade, is used by MacIntosh, a "fast, lightweight meta searcher."[61]

"The Inspector Lestrade Award" is a rising term among message boards for a person who is "almost correct." It has shown up on zdnet and "Bad Astronomy and the Universe Today" forum.[62]

The Peterson Pipes company has a Sherlock Holmes (Return) Series of handmade pipes with silverwork. Two Lestrade pipes are in the collection.[63]


  1. ^ a b Jones, Daniel; Gimson, Alfred C. (1977) [1917]. Everyman's English Pronunciation Dictionary. Everyman's Reference Library (14 ed.). London: J. M. Dent & Sons. ISBN 0-460-03029-9.
  2. ^ A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle. Gutenberg. Retrieved 24 June 2020. 'The Boots pointed out the door to me, and was about to go downstairs again when I saw something that made me feel sickish, in spite of my twenty years' experience.'
  3. ^ a b c d A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle. Gutenberg. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Smith, Daniel (2014) [2009]. The Sherlock Holmes Companion: An Elementary Guide (Updated ed.). Aurum Press. pp. 72–73. ISBN 978-1-78131-404-3.
  5. ^ The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. Gutenberg. Retrieved 24 June 2020. 'Not so, Lestrade. I do not propose to appear in the matter at all. To you, and to you only, belongs the credit of the remarkable arrest which you have effected.'
  6. ^ The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. Gutenberg. Retrieved 24 June 2020. 'And you don't want your name to appear?' 'Not at all. The work is its own reward.'
  7. ^ The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. Gutenberg. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  8. ^ a b Cawthorne, Nigel (2011). A Brief History of Sherlock Holmes. Running Press. p. 250. ISBN 978-0762444083.
  9. ^ The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. Gutenberg. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  10. ^ a b The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. Gutenberg. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  11. ^ Cawthorne, Nigel (2011). A Brief History of Sherlock Holmes. Running Press. p. 255. ISBN 978-0762444083.
  12. ^ Cawthorne, Nigel (2011). A Brief History of Sherlock Holmes. Running Press. p. 254. ISBN 978-0762444083.
  13. ^ Jeffers, H.P. (1992) Bloody Business: An anecdotal history of Scotland Yard, p. 95. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble.
  14. ^ The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. Gutenberg. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  15. ^ The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. Gutenberg. Retrieved 24 June 2020. 'That left foot of yours with its inward twist is all over the place. A mole could trace it...'
  16. ^ a b Klinger, Leslie (ed.). The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, Volume I (New York: W. W. Norton, 2005). p. 760. ISBN 0-393-05916-2)
  17. ^ a b c Klinger, Leslie (ed.). The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, Volume III (New York: W. W. Norton, 2006). pp. 38–39. ISBN 978-0393058000
  18. ^ Holstein, L. S. (1989). "Inspector G. Lestrade". In Shreffler, Philip A. (ed.). Sherlock Holmes by Gas-lamp: Highlights from the First Four Decades of the Baker Street Journal. Fordham Univ Press. p. 236. ISBN 9780823212217.
  19. ^ a b DK Publishing (2019). The Sherlock Holmes Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained. Penguin. ISBN 9781465499448.
  20. ^ "Edinburgh Medical Journal, Volume 29, Part 1". Edinburgh Medical Journal. Y. J. Pentland. 1884.
  21. ^ Johnson, Roger; Upton, Jean (2012). The Sherlock Holmes Miscellany. The History Press. p. 155. ISBN 9780752483474.
  22. ^ For example, at 22:40 in: Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (Motion picture). Universal Pictures. 25 December 1942.
  23. ^ For example, at approximately 5:43 in the film. Sherlock Holmes (Motion picture). Warner Bros. Pictures. 25 December 2009.
  24. ^ For example, at approximately 5:25 in the first episode: "A Study in Pink". Sherlock. Series 1. Episode 1. 24 October 2010. BBC One.
  25. ^ For example, at 20:11 in the first film: The Sleeping Cardinal (Motion picture). Julius Hagen Productions. February 1931.
  26. ^ For example, at approximately 7:36 in: "The Norwood Builder". The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Series 2. Episode 3. 8 September 1985. ITV.
  27. ^ For example, at approximately 22:44 in the first episode: "A Study in Scarlet, Part 1: Revenge". BBC Radio Sherlock Holmes. Episode 1. 5 November 1989. BBC Radio 4.
  28. ^ Eyles, Alan (1986). Sherlock Holmes: A Centenary Celebration. Harper & Row. p. 130–132. ISBN 0-06-015620-1.
  29. ^ Eyles, Alan (1986). Sherlock Holmes: A Centenary Celebration. Harper & Row. p. 132–133. ISBN 0-06-015620-1.
  30. ^ a b c Eyles, Alan (1986). Sherlock Holmes: A Centenary Celebration. Harper & Row. p. 133. ISBN 0-06-015620-1.
  31. ^ Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. p. 211. ISBN 9780857687760.
  32. ^ Bunson, Matthew (1997). Encyclopedia Sherlockiana. Simon & Schuster. p. 104. ISBN 0-02-861679-0.
  33. ^ Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. p. 283. ISBN 9780857687760.
  34. ^ a b c Eyles, Alan (1986). Sherlock Holmes: A Centenary Celebration. Harper & Row. p. 140. ISBN 0-06-015620-1.
  35. ^ Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. p. 298. ISBN 9780857687760.
  36. ^ Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. p. 192. ISBN 9780857687760.
  37. ^ Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. p. 290. ISBN 9780857687760.
  38. ^ Eyles, Alan (1986). Sherlock Holmes: A Centenary Celebration. Harper & Row. p. 139. ISBN 0-06-015620-1.
  39. ^ Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. pp. 139–140. ISBN 9780857687760.
  40. ^ Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. p. 102. ISBN 9780857687760.
  41. ^ Eyles, Alan (1986). Sherlock Holmes: A Centenary Celebration. Harper & Row. p. 136. ISBN 0-06-015620-1.
  42. ^ Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. p. 181. ISBN 9780857687760.
  43. ^ Eyles, Alan (1986). Sherlock Holmes: A Centenary Celebration. Harper & Row. p. 138. ISBN 0-06-015620-1.
  44. ^ Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. p. 196. ISBN 9780857687760.
  45. ^ Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. p. 22. ISBN 9780857687760.
  46. ^ Davies, David Stuart (2007). Starring Sherlock Holmes. Titan Books. p. 155. ISBN 9781845765378.
  47. ^ Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. pp. 29–30. ISBN 9780857687760.
  48. ^ Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. p. 225. ISBN 9780857687760.
  49. ^ a b Slayton, Christopher (26 September 2013). "Elementary Keeps Getting Sherlock Holmes Right". The Atlantic. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  50. ^ McNutt, Myles (6 March 2014). "Elementary: "Ears To You"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  51. ^ Shinjiro Okazaki and Kenichi Fujita (ed.), "シャーロックホームズ冒険ファンブック Shārokku Hōmuzu Bōken Fan Bukku", Tokyo: Shogakukan, 2014,
    p. 11, p. 32 and p. 53.
  52. ^ Wearing, J. P. (2014). The London Stage 1920-1929: A Calendar of Productions, Performers, and Personnel (2nd ed.). Rowman & Littlefield. p. 251. ISBN 9780810893023.
  53. ^ Eyles, Alan (1986). Sherlock Holmes: A Centenary Celebration. Harper & Row. p. 137. ISBN 0-06-015620-1.
  54. ^ Dickerson, Ian (2019). Sherlock Holmes and His Adventures on American Radio. BearManor Media. pp. 149, 268, 269. ISBN 978-1629335070.
  55. ^ De Waal, Ronald Burt (1974). The World Bibliography of Sherlock Holmes. Bramhall House. p. 383–392. ISBN 0-517-217597.
  56. ^ "Inpsector Lestrade - Everett Kaser Software". Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  57. ^ P. 112, Keating, H. R. F. Sherlock Holmes: The Man and His World; Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, (c)1979 ISBN 0-684-16269-5
  58. ^ Maida, Patricia D.; Spornick, Nicholas B. (1982). Murder She Wrote: A Study of Agatha Christie's Detective Fiction. Popular Press. p. 167. ISBN 9780879722159.
  59. ^ The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie. Gutenberg. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  60. ^ Brunsdale, Mitzi M. (2010). Icons of Mystery and Crime Detection: From Sleuths to Superheroes [2 volumes]: From Sleuths to Superheroes. ABC-CLIO. p. 146. ISBN 9780313345319.
  61. ^ Welcome to Northern Softworks Archived 2009-04-01 at the Wayback Machine
  62. ^ Bad Astronomy and Universe Today Forum – View Single Post – Alert! Zetatalk gives exact date of pole shift!
  63. ^ "Peterson SH Squire - Pipes and Cigars". Archived from the original on 6 September 2012. Retrieved 20 October 2016.


  • "Starring Sherlock Holmes" David Stuart Davies; Titan Books, 2001