Sunday, September 23, 2012

Current Read - Sherlock Holmes

'Come, Watson, come!' he cried. 'The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!'

Sherlock Holmes Quote from The Adventure of The Abbey Grange

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1859, Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle fought his way through a childhood filled with the instability that his alcoholic father brought to the family and, supported by wealthy uncles, was given the opportunity to receive an education that then enabled him to begin his medical school studies at the University of Edinburgh in 1876.

And it was during that time that Arthur Conan Doyle began to write. 

His experience, talents and medical studies contributed to his creations but although he began to submit short stories to magazines, nothing gained him any significant recognition until A Study In Scarlet was accepted by Ward Lock & Co on November 20, 1886.  It then appeared in Beeton’s Christmas Annual to good reviews and brought Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson into the literary world and permanently into reader’s hearts for generations to come.

There are thought to be several inspirations for the inimitable detective Sherlock Holmes, but Joseph Bell, one of Conan Doyle’s university professors, is generally recognized as having introduced ideas regarding deduction, observation and inference that found their way into Sherlock’s personality and methods of detection.

After A Study In Scarlet, The Sign Of The Four was commissioned, followed by other successful and popular short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.  With a writing career that continued to be far more successful than his medical career, Conan Doyle began to dedicate himself to also writing historical novels which he considered to be more “important works”.  To clear the path for his new passion, he decided to send Holmes and his nemesis, Moriarty, to their deaths in the story “The Final Problem”. 

Bad idea.

Needless to say, public outcry brought Sherlock Holmes back in more stories – 56 short stories altogether and four novels produced between 1887 and 1927.  Dr. Watson narrates all but four stories but Holmes tells the story himself in “The Blanched Soldier” and “The Lion’s Mane”. The stories  “The Musgrave Ritual” and “The Gloria Scott” feature Holmes relating the storyline to Watson through his memories as the Doctor narrates between. Both “The Mazarin Stone” and His Last Bow are related in third person and A Study In Scarlet and The Valley Of Fear include additional narration both of events known and unknown to either Sherlock and Watson.

The personality of Sherlock Holmes has intrigued and inspired readers ever since their publication and have influenced other works of  fiction, film and television shows.   In London the famous address of 221B Baker Street is as important to lovers of literature as 10 Downing Street is to polititians and Sherlockian fans can even visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum at the well known location.

Members of The Jane Austen Tea Society – you still have plenty of time to read one of the Sherlock Holmes novels or short stories so that we can meet and discuss over tea & scones on Saturday, October 6th.  You may do as I am doing and read “A Study In Scarlet” so that you can discover how Holmes met Dr. Watson.  But you might choose “A Scandal In Bohemia” if you want to read about Sherlock’s love interest or “The Final Problem” to as he crosses paths with Professor Moriarty.

Lay aside your preconceived notions about Sherlock and Watson and go back to the source – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original works!  After all, as Holmes said in “A Study In Scarlet” – 
“There is nothing like first-hand evidence.”

No comments:

Post a Comment