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The Origin of Sherlock Holmes

Literature | January 13, 2019

Sherlock Holmes LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 08: A reproduction of a copy of the book 'A Study in Scarlet' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 8th December 1986. Source: (Photo by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images)

Was Sherlock Holmes a real person?

Sherlock Holmes was actually a fictional character but based on a real person. The real person was a man by the name of Dr. Joseph Bell who was a forensic scientist at Edinburgh University. Author Conan-Doyle actually studied under him and was impressed enough by him to use him as his subject in his books. He also worked for him as a clerk at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Dr. Bell inspired him in various ways such as his knack for drawing great conclusions from minor observations.

The first book he wrote about Sherlock Holmes was called “A Study in Scarlet” and was written in 1886 and first appeared in Beeton’s Christmas Annual for 1887 and then in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine in 1890. Considered rare now, a copy of this edition in Beeton’s Christmas Annual for 1887 sold for $156,000 at Sotheby’s in 2007.

The first series grew in popularity with more exposure in The Strand Magazine in 1891, and later more series of short stories as well as two of his serialized novels appeared in 1927. 

The Scarlet Claw. Source: (basilrathbone.net)

The Cannon, which is what his collection about Sherlock Holmes was called, contained four novels and 56 short stories. In the year 1900, the first film was produced about Sherlock Holmes. By 1939, a series of films based on the novels were produced featuring Basil Rathbone. In the series, the Holmes trademark cap, spyglass, and pipe had been established.

Most of the stories are narrated by Sherlock Holmes’ trusty friend, Dr. John H. Watson, and cover the years 1878 on up to 1907 along with one final case in 1914. Two stories are narrated by Sherlock Holmes and two more stories are written in the third person.

According to a 1971 article in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, it has been argued that the Sherlock Holmes’ character was actually inspired by a consulting detective in a murder case in England named Wendell Scherer. The case received a lot of attention in 1882.

House. Source: (sherlockshome.net)

Holmes and House?

A set of coincidences appear on the show either accidentally or on purpose on the television series, House in relation to Sherlock Holmes. First of all, Hugh Laurie, who plays the main character, Dr. Gregory House on the show is British. Dr. House is like a medical Sherlock Holmes and shows a lot of his characteristics such as his reluctance to accept a case that is not specifically interesting enough, his use of psychology to solve the case, and his drug addiction of Vicodin in comparison to Holmes’ use of cocaine. Other coincidences include his address as well as Dr. Wilson’s being 221B just like Holmes’ address, his instrument playing of piano, guitar, and harmonica in comparison to Holmes’ violin playing, his sidekick Dr. James Wilson just like Holmes’ sidekick Dr. John Watson, and his uncanny ability to assess a situation appropriately with very little effort.

DavidShore_WritingDrama_2005_900x600 Source: (actorz.ru/david-shore_64.html)

David Shore, the creator of the main character for House admitted that he is a fan of Sherlock Holmes. He stated that the name “House” itself is a subtle tribute to Sherlock Holmes. There are many other references to Sherlock Holmes throughout various episodes. One of them is the main patient in the very first episode is Rebecca Adler similar to Irene Adler, who was in the first short story of Sherlock Holmes “A Scandal in Bohemia.” Another is in the finale of season two, a crazy gunman called “Moriarty,” which is the name of Holmes’ rival shoots Dr. House.

Sherlock Holmes, A game of Shadows. Source: (criticsatlarge.ca)

Modern-made Sherlock Holmes movies like both movies starring Robert Downey Jr., the 2009 movie “Sherlock Holmes” and the 2011 movie “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” were very entertaining. Both movies did well at displaying the Sherlock Holmes character and were full of action and intrigue and there is promise of a third Sherlock Holmes movie.

A new movie is also coming out about Sherlock Holmes but the reviews on it so far are not so good. According to the reviews, it is full of obscenities and raunchy comedy – certainly not a family-oriented movie.

Tags: Sherlock Holmes, writings, movies, actors, literature

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Penny Chavers

Writer

Penny, besides writing, loves to spend her time with family and friends. In her spare time, she also enjoys playing the piano, board games, and taking online classes on topics that interest her.