The Enola Holmes Mysteries

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Enola Holmes Mysteries
First book in the series

  • The Case of the Missing Marquess
  • The Case of the Left-Handed Lady
  • The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets
  • The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan
  • The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline
  • The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye
  • Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche
  • Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade

AuthorNancy Springer
GenreYoung adult
PublisherPenguin Young Readers
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)

The Enola Holmes Mysteries is a young adult fiction series of detective novels by American author Nancy Springer, starring Enola Holmes as the 14-year-old sister of an already famous Sherlock Holmes, twenty years her senior. There are seven books in the series, and one short story all written from 2006–2021.

When their mother disappears, Enola's much-older brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, decide to send her to a finishing school against her will. Instead, with the aid of her mother, who had provided hidden funds and an elaborate cipher for her daughter to communicate with her, Enola runs away to London, where she establishes a clandestine private detective career specializing in missing persons investigations. Furthermore, Enola must keep ahead of her brothers who are determined to capture and force her to conform to their expectations.

This pastiche series borrows characters and settings from the established canon of Sherlock Holmes, but the Enola character is Springer's creation and specific to this series. The first book, The Case of the Missing Marquess, and the fifth, The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline, were nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery in 2007 and 2010, respectively.

In 2020, the literary series was adapted into a film with Millie Bobby Brown in the title role and Henry Cavill playing Sherlock Holmes, and in 2022 the duo reprised their roles for a sequel.


Before writing The Enola Holmes Mysteries, Nancy Springer had already published books that reimagined Mordred and Robin Hood.[1] Springer developed the idea for Enola Holmes alongside her editor, Michael Green. Green initially asked her to explore "deepest, darkest London at the time of Jack the Ripper."[2] After some research, she realized that Sherlock Holmes was based in the same time period as Jack the Ripper.[3] Springer rejected the idea of giving Holmes a daughter but thought the idea of a younger sister could work.[4]

To write the series, Springer researched about Victorian era England, both from historical research and through coloring books, which, according to her, it helps "visualize the details" when writing.[1] She referred to The Annotated Sherlock Holmes by William Baring-Gould. She did not have too much difficulty in using the language of the time period since she was well versed with Victorian literature.[3]

When creating the character of Enola, Springer decided to have her as Holmes' sister, as she did not see it fitting for Holmes to be her father. The age discrepancy between Enola and Sherlock is explained as Enola being a "mistake child".[2] For the main character's name, she researched romantic names of the era, and set on the one of a town near where she resided at the time.[1]

Sherlock's status as a bachelor and being "clueless about women" also played a role on the creation of Enola Holmes, as it allowed Springer to write a character that "could blindside him time after time."[5]

Springer has also stated that Enola is partially based on her own life. She herself is much younger than her two older brothers, who left for college before she reached puberty. Springer, too, had an artist for a mother, who was talented with painting watercolor flowers. Due to cancer, menopause and an early-onset form of dementia, Springer's mother spent less time with her after she turned 14 years old. Further, like Enola, Springer "was a scrawny, bony, gawky tree-climbing tomboy with hair that needed to be washed" and was "solitary and bookish."[2]

In the film Enola explains that her name spelled backwards is "alone", which describes her solitary nature.

Series overview[edit]

On Enola's fourteenth birthday, her mother disappears, and Sherlock and Mycroft, Enola's brothers, conclude that her mother voluntarily left. Enola is devastated but eventually discovers elaborate ciphers her mother wrote, which lead her to conclude that she left to live with the Romani people and escape the confines of Victorian society. Enola finds that her mother left money to fund her escape. When Mycroft, the eldest sibling, insists that Enola attend boarding school and learn to be a proper lady, she runs away to London instead. Throughout the series, Enola solves numerous missing persons cases, including a rescue of Dr. John Watson, while eluding her brothers' efforts to recapture her.

The Case of the Missing Marquess (2007)[edit]

When Enola's mother disappears, Enola calls on her older brothers Sherlock and Mycroft, who dismiss her as unimportant. Horrified by her brothers' plans to send her to a boarding school and the prospect of wearing a corset, she escapes. Dressed as a widow, she runs across Inspector Lestrade, who is working on a case with Sherlock about the disappearance of a young Viscount, Lord Tewkesbury. Nearly blowing her cover, she finds a secret hiding place that seems to be the young Viscount's hideaway. Concluding that he ran away, she sets off to look for him. Upon arriving in London, Enola discovers the city is not the magical place of her imagination. The same people who have kidnapped the Viscount, who has no street smarts, kidnap Enola. After escaping with the Viscount, she bribes a woman to buy them clothing. Hiding in a police station right under Sherlock's nose, Enola runs away, leaving only a sketch of the suspect on the bench.

The Case of the Left-Handed Lady (2007)[edit]

Enola tries to find Lady Cecily Alistair, who disappeared from her bedroom. Enola, after disguising herself, talks to Lady Cecily's family, who think she has run off with the son of a tradesman. Enola finds some strange paintings that make her doubt that notion, and goes to find their daughter.

The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets (2008)[edit]

Sherlock's companion, Dr. John Watson, has gone missing. Enola discovers a bouquet of flowers intended for Watson. Using the language of the flowers, she detects a threat and sets out to find the missing doctor and his kidnapper. She finds him in an insane asylum. Two policemen had been told he was an insane man, and his claims to being Watson only exacerbated their belief. But is he insane or are they lying?

The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan (2008)[edit]

Enola helps an old acquaintance, Lady Cecily, escape a forced marriage to the young Lady's cousin (such things were common then, to keep property within the family). While escaping an evil man and his mastiff, Enola runs right into trouble. Meanwhile, little does she know, Sherlock is only a few steps behind her.

The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline (2009)[edit]

Enola returns to her lodgings to find that somebody has kidnapped her landlady, Mrs. Tupper. After investigating the ransacked lodgings, she abduces that the kidnappers were after a secret message hidden in Mrs. Tupper's old crinoline dress. Enola traces the dress to Florence Nightingale, who met Mrs. Tupper in the Crimean War. After several visits to Nightingale, Enola discovers that Nightingale conducted espionage during the war. As such, Nightingale asked Mrs. Tupper to smuggle a note in her crinoline back to England but did not know that the war widow was deaf and did not understand her. Enola also realizes that Nightingale pretends to be an invalid to avoid attending social functions expected of a wealthy woman. She realizes that the functions would take time away from writing letters to achieve social reform for the needy. During her visits to Nightingale, Enola suspects someone is following her. As the person could be related to the case and a danger to Mrs. Tupper's and her own safety, she relocates to the Professional Women's Club.

After solving the case, she takes Mrs. Tupper and herself back to her home. Enola packs her things as she gets ready to leave. After figuring this out, Mrs. Tupper does the same. Mrs. Tupper ends up going with Enola. She escapes upon seeing Sherlock approach. Sherlock converses with Nightingale, and she reveals the reason behind Enola's escape from her brothers by describing the horrors of boarding schools and corsets.

The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye (2010)[edit]

Finally, in Enola's sixth case, Sherlock concludes that Enola has matured rapidly into a capable young woman and helps his sister not only to find her quarry but also to finally convince their older brother Mycroft of her skill.

In the end, the Holmes siblings fully reconcile with the help of a final coded message from their mother, a Spartan skytale decoded using bicycle handlebars. With that resolution, Mycroft, further impressed with Enola's sophisticated business arrangements and satisfied with her residence at the Professional Women's Club, grants Enola her liberty and agrees to fund her education. Enola in turn forgives Mycroft, accepts his offer while announcing she is likely continuing her career as a private investigator. For his part, Sherlock accepts Enola as a colleague in his profession and notes that he eagerly awaits her future accomplishments.

Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche (2021)[edit]

Enola works with Sherlock to uncover the truth behind the death of Flossie Rudcliff, Countess of Dunhench (née Glover).[6]

Enola Holmes and the Boy in Buttons (2021)[edit]

Enola Holmes, the much younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft, owns a building in the heart of 19th century London, a place she uses under pseudonyms to front for her investigative work. Employed there is a porter - Joddy, a young boy in a uniform festooned with buttons - whose even younger brother substitutes for him when he's sick. But Paddy disappears after one day at the job and Enola Holmes is alerted to this by the still ill Joddy.

Determined to find the missing porter, Enola travels to the rough part of London where the boys live and starts searching Aldgate Pump area for the missing boy. When she finds the missing buttons - but not the boy - she decides that drastic action is essential if she's to save the missing boy.

This title is only available as an ebook or audiobook.[7]

Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade (2022)[edit]

Released in September 2022, Enola is once again trying to help her friend, Lady Cecily.[8]


The Enola Holmes Mysteries has been classified as an example of neo-Victorian literature for young adults, in part due to the author's use of Victorian woman's clothes as a method to show female empowerment through the main character.[9][10] According to Amy Montz, Nancy Springer rewrites the "social and personal expectations for fashion".[9]: 91  For Montz, the corset is one of the main pieces of clothing for Victorian era stories, as "it is both public and private, masculine and feminine, utilitarian and ornamental, necessary and reviled."[9]: 92  In the Enola Holmes series, the corset is a piece of "protection, [...] masquerade [...] and storage space," and is highlighted throughout the various books.[9]: 97 

In a paper about Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle Trilogy and Springer's Enola Holmes Mysteries, Sonya Fritz also classifies these series as part of the neo-Victorian movement, and talks about how those stories explore the concept of girl power.[11]: 6-7  For Fritz, in Springer's books the characters conform to the social norms in public, but "[b]eneath this veneer of respectability and conformity [...] is a completely different life, one filled with courage, autonomy, and action."[10]: 39  According to Fritz, Enola is described to the reader as having an "unconventional independence" since the start of the story, where she is described as wearing her brother's old clothes, marking her as a tomboy. She also notes how, when faced with the prospect of being sent to a finishing school, Enola chooses to run away, which frames her as "a specimen of one of the feminine ideals that can be found in girl power".[10]: 48 

The various disguises used by Enola throughout the series demonstrates the character's understanding of femininity as something "performative rather than essential," specially through her usage of the corset as a place to stash her money, or as a piece of armor.[10]: 48-49  For Fritz, this subversion of female fashion as disguises or as secret communication offers "simultaneously a representation of the Victorian period and a contemporary model of girl power".[10]: 51 


The first book, The Case of the Missing Marquess, and the fifth, The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline, were nominated for the Edgar Awards for Best Juvenile Mystery in 2007 and 2010, respectively.[12][13][14] Karen MacPherson in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette called Enola a "highly appealing heroine".[15] In a review for the first book, Children's Book and Play Review echoed the statement, calling Enola "a bright and endearing character". The review also praised the novel for being "fast-paced and suspenseful" as well as its integration of Victorian culture but noted that it "wrap[ped] up a bit briskly".[16] Carthage College's Center for Children's Literature described the second book as a "solid historical mystery" with a "satisfying and surprising ending" despite being "a bit slow at the beginning".[17]


Graphic novel[edit]

The series has been adapted in France as graphic novels by writer and artist Séréna Blasco and published by Jungle! in their collection Miss Jungle.[18] The first three graphic novels have been published in the United States by IDW.[19][20]


On January 9, 2018, it was announced that Millie Bobby Brown would produce and star as the title character in a film series based on the Enola Holmes books.[21] On February 8, 2019, media reported Harry Bradbeer would direct the film project, and Jack Thorne would adapt the script.[22] Helena Bonham Carter plays Enola's mother, and Henry Cavill plays Sherlock Holmes.[23] On April 21, 2020, Netflix bought the distribution rights to the film, as opposed to a theatrical release due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[24][25] The film was released on September 23, 2020.[26]

That month, Brown and Bradbeer acknowledged their intentions to develop a sequel, which was announced on May 13, 2021.[27] The story is an original story based on the 1888 matchgirls' strike and the life of labour activist Sarah Chapman. Bradbeer thought it was an inspiring feminist tale that showed the power of working together — "Enola, to advance, has to work with others and not just be reliant on herself. It's a story that goes from 'I' to 'we,' and that is a story of sisterhood."[28]

In November 2022, the sequel, Enola Holmes 2 was released on Netflix.[29] Brown and Cavill reprised their roles as Enola and Sherlock.[30] Brown was reportedly paid $10 million for her role,[31] making it the highest upfront salary for an actor under the age of twenty as of the release of the film.[32]


On June 23, 2020, the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle brought a lawsuit in New Mexico against, among others, Nancy Springer, Legendary Pictures, PCMA Productions, and Netflix, citing both copyright and trademark infringement. This is in regard to the final ten stories produced by Doyle, which had not yet entered the public domain, although at the time of filing four actually had. The lawsuit specifically references Holmes' becoming more emotional in the final ten works, presenting a more "human" side to Sherlock, something that he was not known to present in the original works prior to the character's resurrection after The Final Problem. According to the suit, The Enola Holmes Mysteries and adaptations violate the trademark and copyright on this particular depiction of Holmes, as the stories are still in a time of transition between copyright and the public domain.[33][34]

The lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice on December 18, 2020.[35] Furthermore, the Sherlock Holmes property by Arthur Conan Doyle fully entered the public domain in the United States as of 2023, which permanently ended any possibility of copyright challenges in the future.[36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Esmont, Erin (12 February 2006). "Readers love what she likes to write; Nancy Springer's new mystery imagines a sister of Sherlock Holmes". York Daily Record. York, Pennsylvania. p. 4.
  2. ^ a b c Simmons, Tony (2019-08-13). "'Stranger Things' star Millie Bobby Brown shooting film based on Bonifay author's novels". Panama City News Herald. Retrieved 2020-09-27.
  3. ^ a b Bhattacharya, Suryasarathi (2020-09-23). "Enola Holmes author Nancy Springer on her popular mystery series and the Netflix adaptation - Living News , Firstpost". Firstpost. Retrieved 2020-09-27.
  4. ^ Jason Fraley (28 September 2020). "'Enola Holmes' author shares local ties to Netflix hit about Sherlock's kid sister". WTOP.
  5. ^ Springer, Nancy (22 June 2015). "Nancy Springer Interview" (Interview). Interviewed by Dag R. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  6. ^ "Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche". Kirkus Reviews. June 16, 2021. Retrieved February 5, 2022.
  7. ^ "Enola Holmes and the Boy in Buttons". Macmillan. Retrieved 2022-11-08.
  8. ^ [enolaholmesandtheelegantescapade "Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade"]. Macmillan. Retrieved 2022-12-14. {{cite web}}: Check |url= value (help)
  9. ^ a b c d Montz, Amy L. (2019). "Unbinding the Victorian Girl: Corsetry and Neo-Victorian Young Adult Literature". Children's Literature Association Quarterly. 44 (1): 88–101. doi:10.1353/chq.2019.0005.
  10. ^ a b c d e Fritz, Sonya Sawyer (2012). "Double Lives: Neo-Victorian Girlhood in the Fiction of Libba Bray and Nancy Springer". Neo-Victorian Studies. 5 (1): 38–59.
  11. ^ Morey, Anne; Nelson, Claudia (2012). "The Secret Sharer: The Child in Neo-Victorian Fiction". Neo-Victorian Studies. 5 (1): 1–13.
  12. ^ "Category List – Best Juvenile". Edgar Award Winners and Nominees Database. Mystery Writers of America. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
  13. ^ "2007 Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominees". New Mystery Reader Magazine. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
  14. ^ "2010 Edgar® Nominees". Retrieved 16 October 2011.
  15. ^ MacPherson, Karen (29 May 2007). "It's no mystery why these books are engrossing". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. C7. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  16. ^ Wadley, Laura (2006). "Review of The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer". Children's Book and Play Review. 26 (4): 28. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  17. ^ Wildner, Kristine. ""The Case of the Left-Handed Lady: An Enola Holmes Mystery" by Nancy Springer". Center for Children's Literature. Carthage College. Retrieved 18 March 2016.
  18. ^ Maneron, Philippe. "Les enquêtes d'Enola Holmes - BD, informations, cotes". (in French).
  19. ^ "Sherlock Holmes' Kid Sister Get IDW EuroComics Graphic Novel in October". Newsarama. Archived from the original on March 27, 2019.
  20. ^ IDW: Enola Holmes: The Case of the Missing Marquess
  21. ^ Munzenrieder, Kyle (January 9, 2018). "Millie Bobby Brown to Star as Sherlock Holmes's Kid Sister In Multi-Film Deal". W. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  22. ^ Kroll, Justin (February 8, 2019). "'Killing Eve' Director to Helm Millie Bobby Brown's 'Enola Holmes'". Variety. Retrieved 2019-02-19.
  23. ^ Kroll, Justin (2019-06-27). "Henry Cavill to Play Sherlock Holmes Opposite Millie Bobby Brown in 'Enola Holmes'". Variety. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  24. ^ Kit, Borys (April 21, 2020). "Netflix Picks Up Millie Bobby Brown's 'Enola Holmes". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
  25. ^ Pemberton, Daniel [@DANIELPEMBERTON] (21 April 2020). "So.. in a bid to beat the COVID blues #EnolaHolmes will now be avoiding the sadly currently closed down cinemas..." (Tweet). Retrieved August 1, 2020 – via Twitter.
  26. ^ Utichi, Joe (September 22, 2020). "Millie Bobby Brown & Harry Bradbeer On Crafting A Modern Superheroine In The Victorian-Era 'Enola Holmes' – Q&A". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 2020-09-30. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
  27. ^ Jackson, Angelique (May 13, 2021). "Millie Bobby Brown and Henry Cavill Return for 'Enola Holmes' Sequel on Netflix". Variety. Retrieved August 17, 2022.
  28. ^ Ferme, Antonio (29 October 2022). "How Millie Bobby Brown Channeled 'Fleabag' in 'Enola Holmes 2'". Variety.
  29. ^ "Enola Holmes 2", Rotten Tomatoes, retrieved 2022-11-16
  30. ^ Moore, Kasey (April 22, 2021). "'Enola Holmes 2' Reportedly In Development at Netflix, Brown & Cavill to Return". What's on Netflix. Retrieved April 22, 2021.
  31. ^ Lang, Brent (20 July 2022). "Inside Movie Stars' Salaries: Joaquin Phoenix Nabs $20M for 'Joker 2,' Tom Cruise Heads to Over $100M and More". Variety.
  32. ^ Vassell, Nicole (21 July 2022). "Millie Bobby Brown 'makes history' with $10m salary for Enola Holmes sequel on Netflix". The Independent.
  33. ^ Lawful Masses with Leonard French (30 June 2020). Sherlock Estate Sues Enola Holmes for Copyright, Trademark Infringement. Retrieved 8 July 2020 – via YouTube.
  34. ^ Robertson, Adi (25 July 2020). "Arthur Conan Doyle's estate sues Netflix for giving Sherlock Holmes too many feelings". The Verge. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  35. ^ Moss, Aaron (20 December 2020). ""Enola Holmes" Copyright Lawsuit Dismissed: Unsolved, Yet Resolved". Copyright Lately. Retrieved 25 December 2020.
  36. ^ Jenkins, Jennifer. "Public Domain Day 2023 § Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Public Domain Character". Duke University School of Law. Retrieved 2023-01-06. This source is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

External links[edit]