Who is Sherlock Holmes? It’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t heard of him, but it’s equally as difficult to find two people who have exactly the same interpretation. Sherlock Holmes is brilliantly clever, sharply intellectual, and captivatingly mysterious, and he is an object of fascination in his fictional London and the real world. Read on to discover what we know about the Great Detective—or at least, what we think we know.
Did Holmes Exist?
- The Straight Dope: Did Sherlock Holmes Really Exist?
- Myths Retold: Sherlock Holmes, the Original House MD
- For that matter, did Dr. Watson really exist?
Landmark Stories in Holmes' Career
- Sherlock Holmes Meets Watson: A Study in Scarlet
- Sherlock Holmes Crosses Paths with Irene Adler: A Scandal in Bohemia
- Sherlock Holmes Crosses Paths with Professor Moriarty: The Final Problem
- Sherlock Holmes Returns to Life and London: The Empty House
- Sherlock Holmes Retired to Keep Bees in Sussex: The Lion's Mane (possibly near Beachy Head)
- Sherlock Holmes Takes His Final Case: His Last Bow
Holmes' Hobbies and Personality
Some sports ("an excellent boxer, singlestick player and swordsman"); music (played the violin, and wrote a monograph about Orlando di Lasso); obscure knowledge (the Buddhism of Ceylon, the warships of the future); tobacco.
- The Chemistry of Sherlock Holmes
- The Theology of Sherlock Holmes
- Music of Sherlock Holmes
- Tea with Sherlock Holmes
- Asperger Syndrome
- 221B Baker Street, London
- The Location of 221B, by Peter Liddell
- Analysis from Smithsonian Magazine blog
- Bird's-eye drawing from Stutler Comics
- Abbey House, 219-229 Baker Street
- A spectacular re-creation in Reading, Pennsylvania
- Chuck Kovacic's re-creation in California
- Miniature by Nancy Garcés-Saroli
- Model in 1/6 scale by Craig Calvert
- Model in Lego
- Reconstruction for the Festival of Britain, 1951 (video)
- The contemporary equivalent: panoramic tour of the BBC Sherlock flat
- Baker Street Makeover on a Budget
- What would the flat be worth?
Probably the most elegant re-creation of the sitting-room and adjacent rooms in Holmes and Watson's lodgings is the floor plan drawn by Ernest H. Short, circa 1948, and published in the Strand magazine in 1950. Click for a scan.
Take every word in the text seriously, and here's what you'll conclude about 221B Baker Street: 'Sherlock Holmes and the Mantelpiece'
- A brother, Mycroft Holmes, mentioned in several stories
- Speculations About Other Relatives
- The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes
John H. Watson, late of the Army Medical Department.
- Les Klinger, "Art in Whose Blood?"
- Jude Law comes close to the original character
- A Friend Indeed, by Edgar W. Smith
Professor James Moriarty—see the Professor Moriarty page on Sherlockian.Net.
Holmes' Love Life
To Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler was always The Woman. Besides her, there's always Maud Bellamy of "The Lion's Mane." And then there's Mary Russell.
Now that's a controversial subject! One viewpoint: Gay Sherlock Holmes
Were Holmes and Watson gay?
The author probably didn't intend them to be, and traditional readers don't think so, but more recently there's been a lot of support for this theory. One writer explains why the answer is yes.
Although not outright stated in the Canon, there are clues. Scholars have a lot to say on the topic.
- The Whole Art of Detection
- The Art of Deduction, by Taz Rai
- "Sherlock Holmes's Seven Vital Lessons", an essay by John C. Sherwood
- Crime Scene Sketches of 17 cases, by Thomas F. Hanratty
- Typical pattern of the stories: Ronald Knox, "Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes"
- Sherlock Holmes, Paranormal Investigator
- Sherlockian.Net links related to policing and crime
- Sherlock Holmes and the Art of Disguise
- The Critical Thinking Community
Some Common Misperceptions
"Elementary, my dear Watson": never appears in the original stories; tentatively traced to P. G. Wodehouse's comic novel Psmith, Journalist (1915). Holmes does say "Exactly, my dear Watson," in three different tales.
Deerstalker (fore-and-aft) cap: never exactly mentioned in the stories. The original illustrator, Sidney Paget, interpreted the "ear-flapped travelling cap" mentioned in "Silver Blaze" as a deerstalker and drew it for that story and four subsequent times. Then the idea took off. Definition of a deerstalker and DeerStalker.com.
Where can I buy a deerstalker hat? From many gentlemen's outfitters and shops that sell woolen goods. The 240-year-old British firm of hatters, Christys', currently has one model of deerstalker for sale.
Curved or calabash pipe: not clearly described in the stories, but attributed to actor William Gillette, who wanted a pipe that would not interfere with his famous profile or with clear articulation.
- Alt.smokers.pipes home page
- The Pipes Digest, including "140 Different Varieties"
- Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club of Boston
- Good night, Mrs. Calabash
- McClelland Tobacco offers a "221B" line of blends
Stupid Watson: not justified by the text, except in the sense that everyone is stupider than Holmes; traceable to the buffoonish Watson played by Nigel Bruce in 1940s films.