Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's, 'Sherlock Holmes'.

Jeremy Brett
Jeremy Brett | Source

Renewed interest

I am a die hard Sherlock Holmes fan. He is one of my favorite detectives. I love mysteries. I love sleuths, that are unconventional and quirky.

I love the logical thinking process but i would not ever refer to myself as a really logical person. But that is what i find fascinating about detectives, as logical as they are it is their skills in observation that makes them iconic.

They are regarded as geniuses but the truth is they just pay attention to all the little details, process them accordingly and come up with obvious conclusions, that others overlook or just plain ole miss.

Digression, you know from what i have said that i love Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, i am a die hard fan of most of the TV shows and movies, chronicling his adventures. But i will admit quite freely here that i do not appreciate the new re birth of the latest Sherlock Holmes played by Robert Downey Jr.

Ask me why and i will give you my list as follows:

  • he is a bungler, a comic
  • he has made Sherlock Holmes seem ridiculous
  • he has made him a character of fiction, where die hard fans see him as 'real'
  • instead of a studious observant character, he has made him a madcap kind of detective, who spends more time running around getting himself in debacles rather than spending time processing information that leads him to his 'elementary' conclusion

To captivate the new generation, this new persona of Sherlock Holmes has alienated die hard sleuth fans, mystery fans and earlier versions of film fans weaned on the Adventure of Sherlock Holmes stories.

Sherlock Holmes is a study in methodology, a thinker, an observant man, that only dashes around as a last resort and only to gather missing clues that others did not relate to him when giving him details of a case in which he finds some interest.

The one driving force behind Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock, is and was that he was observant. He was an analytic, he took a puzzle, observed the pieces, reconstructed it and then deconstructed it, so that he could relate to those less observant than he, what they did not notice.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was medically trained. This i feel has much to do with the development of Sherlock Holmes' processes and quirky persona. He based the world's leading forensic sleuth on a medical professor he had, Mr Joseph Bell.

Apparently anyone who knew Mr Bell and read Sir Conan Doyle's stories immediately identified the connection between the two. Sir Conan Doyle himself wrote that Bell could take credit for the creation of his logically observant sleuth.

Although i love the resurgence of interest in Sherlock Holmes, especially since PBS' version with Jeremy Brett was stopped, I am disappointed in the version that is popular on the big screen, now.

I do in fact like the new up to date version that is currently a part of PBS's new repertoire, even though the premise is more with the current times rather than historical, or periodically based.

Interesting things about Sir Arthur:

  • he was Scottish, born in Edinburgh
  • he was supported and educated by wealthy uncles, at Stonyhurst a Jesuit school
  • his father was a drunk, that ended up in a lunatic asylum, but was a promising designer / architect
  • his mother was a master story teller
  • he was brilliant, also known for deductive reasoning, a prolific writer
  • he failed as a practicing medical doctor, he was also in ophthalmology
  • he wrote science fiction, The Lost World
  • he wrote published medical papers, about poison, Gelsemium
  • he wrote non fiction historicals
  • he wrote romances
  • he wrote poetry, and plays
  • he ran for Parliament twice, a government position, but failed both times
  • he was awarded Knighthood for writing about the propaganda behind the Boer wars, in South Africa
  • he was a spiritualist, formed an occult society, after 7 close familial deaths
  • believed in fairies, the Cottingley fairies, a hoax played by two girls, a camera and cutouts of fairies frolicking in a meadow
  • was a friend of Houdini, then enemies over the spiritualism philosophy, Houdini showed them as frauds and tricksters
  • was married twice, to Louisa ' Touie', then to Jean after Touie's death
  • had five children, Kingsley, Adrian, Denis, Jean, Mary
  • he was involved in two (2) real life mysteries, in which both men accused and convicted were exonerated
  • his first novel failed, A Tangled Skein
  • was overweight, died of a heart attack
  • sold 'A Study in Scarlet', for 25 pounds - good money in comparison to other jobs at the time

Creating Sherlock Holmes

  • based on the University professor, Joseph Bell - "Dr Joe", who could diagnose an ailment just from looking at a patient, before examination
  • looks and sketches based on Sidney Paget, the illustrators brother
  • Sherlock Holmes was his second name choice for his logical sleuth, Sir Arthur's original choice was Sheridan Hope, or Sherringford Holmes
  • Dr. Watson, Sherlock's side kick's first name choice was Ormond Sacker
  • Based in London, 221B Baker street, which does not exist
  • plays the violin to think
  • used drugs when he was bored
  • believed in disguises
  • One of Sherlock's favorite saying, "You see but you do not observe". Another was "...when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable must be the truth".
  • set in Victorian times
  • Moriarty was 1 of his two arch rivals, a math professor and master criminal, the other was Colonel Sebastian Moran

Recreating Sherlock Holmes is not that difficult. There are too many clues that point to him as an individual, fictional, yes but decidedly 'real' because he receives correspondence from all over the world soliciting his help.

The letters are answered.

One sad note, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did not feel that the creating and development was his 'real' or 'serious' work as a author. He got sick of the iconic cutting edge logically thinking observant detective that has inspired forensics and deduction for nearly over 120 years or more.

That is an accomplishment and speaks to the genius of his author, Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle.

Side note, there are several shows coming out this new fall line up based on the observant detective and although i am sure they are aspiring to do well, i have already concluded, at least for me, they will be a waste of my precious TV watching time.

Enjoy, revisiting the originals though, and let me know how they stand the test of time.

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Comments 4 comments

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

Very interesting hub. I, too, am a long-time Sherlock fan and think the UK's Granada TV series the best of all film or TV versions. Jeremy Brett is the definitive Sherlock, in my opinion. When I re-read any of the Holmes canon, I visualize Brett as Sherlock.

I'm no longer such a Conan Doyle fan since I read the biography, The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes. He mistreated his first two children while he was still alive and left them out of his will, which speaks volumes about his lacking character. It was bad enough that he had a long-term affair with the woman who became his second wife while his first wife was very ill and dying. (Shades of John Edwards!) There was no excuse for not treating his older children fairly.


Celiegirl profile image

Celiegirl 4 years ago Author

Thanks JayeWisdom! I agree that aspects of his personal life is troubling, but that does not diminish the fact that he was creative and gave us one of the most enjoyable sleuths of all time.

But we all know that personal struggles is still a part of us all making this journey we call life.

That for me does not change the gift he gave us through his writing.


cperuzzi profile image

cperuzzi 4 years ago from Freehold, NJ

Good hub. Very detailed.

I disagree about the Downey Jr. portrayal. The reason we have a stereotypical vision of Holmes is both from the illustrations in the Strand and the theatrical portrayal of William Gillette (a famous stage actor that gave a lot to the Holmes quirks). Take those away and you may have Downey.

You may also wish to get a viewing of the Murder Walls series (Dark Origins of Sherlock Holmes) - the adventures of Doyle and Bell.


Celiegirl profile image

Celiegirl 4 years ago Author

Thanks cperuzzi, you are right about why we have the stereotypical Holmes, and i will check out the Murder Walls, sounds interesting!

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