It is the 22nd of May, which means that it is Arthur Conan Doyle his birthday. Or it would be if he was still alive. For those people who do not recognise this name, Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was a British writher and physician, who lived from 22nd of May 1859 till the 7th of July 1930. He is best known for creating the fictional ‘consulting’ detective Sherlock Holmes and his faithfull assistant, Dr. Watson.
I have been planning this post for quite a while now, but never got around to preparing it. I would most definitely not consider myself an expart on Sherlock Holmes, having not even read all the books/stories in the canon. I have re-read the first two books, A study in scarlet and The Sign of the Four this month, but that is as far as I got. The main reason for this being that I had to wave my boyfriend/fiancee goodbye this morning. As I might have mentioned in an earlier post, he comes from South-Africa while I live in the Netherlands. We managed to get him over here for a year, which ended this morning. And before someone asks, I have no idea when I will see him again. It may be a few months, but it may also be years… So, my mind was most definitely on this post the last few weeks.
So, without further ado, let’s get started.
Like I said before, Sir Doyle was a physician. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh. He based Sherlock Holmes on his teacher, Joseph Bell. Sir Doyle said in his autobiography about this: ‘It is no wonder that after the study of such a character [viz., Bell] I used and amplified his methods when in later life I tried to build up a scientific detective who solved cases on his own merits and not through the folly of the criminal’.
In 1886, Ward Lock & Co bought the rights to the first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, for £25 (£2500 today). In 1890 the sequal, The Sign of the Four, appeared. After this Doyle left Ward Lock & Co because he felt exploited. His short stories were then published in the Strand Magazine. However, after a while the author became tired of the character, considering killing him off. He raised the publishing prices in an attempt to discourage publisher, which did not help whatsoever. Because of this, Sir Doyle became one of the best paid authors of his time. In 1893, however, (Spoiler alert!!) Sherlock and Moriarty fell to their death down the Reichenbach Falls.
Readers were so upset about this that in 1901 Sherlock returned in The Hound of the Baskervilles. All together, Sherlock Holmes featured in 4 novels and 56 short stories.
Of course, the detective has also appeared in several movies, tv series, theater plays and book adaptations.He has even been listed as the ‘most portrayed movie character’ in history by Guinnes World Records. Other characters have also appeared, or played the main role, in several of these adaptations.
The stories of Sherlock Holmes penned down by Sir Doyle were mostly set during Victorian or Edwardian periods and narrated by Dr. Watson, with whom Sherlock often shares quarters at 221B Bakers Street in London. Because the stories are narrated by Dr. Watson, it is very difficult for the reader to solve the mysteries by themselves. Although a very clever man, the doctor just doesn’t have the amazing deductive abilities Sherlock has and thereby misses a lot of vital clues to solving the mystery. The reader only gets to see and know the things Watson knows, giving Sherlock the ability to blow your socks off with his Awesomeness. This is one of the things I love most about the stories, the endings are always a big surprise. An added bonus to Dr. Watson’s narration is that he is just a ‘normal’ human being, where Sherlock can be hard to identify with. This makes the stories even more fun and enjoyable while maintaining the mystery of Sherlock the person.
Although Study in Scarlet is the first story, and it is where Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson meet up, I feel you can read the stories out of order perfectly fine. Please give these stories a go, just start wherever you feel like!
There are loads of adaptations of these famous characters. Well known is of course the BBC series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. I Love this series sooooo much. There are not that many episodes out, so if you haven’t watched these yet, give it a go. It’s amazing. I have also read several book adaptations of which a few of my favourites are:
The Baker Street Boys by Anthony Read
This is a series of short, fun, middle grade books which follow the Baker street Irregulars, a group of kids who live on the street and help out Sherlock now and then. However, when Sherlock goes missing they have to start and solve mysteries by themselves.
Stoker and Holmes by Colleen Gleason
This is a YA series which will consist of 5 books (I believe), telling the story of Mina Holmes (the niece of Sherlock) and Evaline Stoker (the sister of Bram). They are just so much fun, set in a steampunk London with two very strong female characters. I have recently posted reviews for both The Clockwork Scarab (#1) and The Spiritglass Charade (#2).
Sherlock Holmes by Anthony Horowitz
I have only read the first book of this series, but the second book Moriarty is patiently waiting on by bookshelf. These books follow Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as was written by Sir Doyle, also narrated by Dr. Watson. According to the doctor, the story of The House of Silk, was to monstrous to be pusblished at their time, something which would tear appart the fabric of society. He therefore carefully packaged the manuscript with instructions for it not to be opened for 100 years.
I hope you all find this post intersting, I certainly learned some new things. Please let me know if you know some great adaptations of these famous characters, because I just have a sweet spot for those stories.
I hope you all have a lovely day,
PS. As I finish this up my boyfriend safely landed in South-Africa.