About Sherlock Holmes

A recreation of Holmes and Watson's flat at 221B Baker Street

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?

Landmark Stories in Holmes' Career

Holmes' Birthday

January 6, 1854 (according to Christopher Morley, pioneer American Sherlockian). At any rate, apparently he was a Capricorn.

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.

Holmes' Address

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'

Holmes' Family

Holmes' companion

John H. Watson, late of the Army Medical Department.


Holmes' Arch-Enemy

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.

Holmes' Sexuality

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.

Holmes' Religion

Although not outright stated in the Canon, there are clues. Scholars have a lot to say on the topic.

Holmes' Chronology

Holmes' Methods

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.

Why is it always the hat?

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.

What goes with the pipe, of course, is the dressing-gown. And then there's the magnifying glass. And the violin.

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.

25 'common misconceptions' from Sherlockian-Sherlock.com