10 interesting facts about Sherlock Holmes

How well do you know Sherlock Holmes? Here are 10 amazing facts about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's mastermind crime solver. There was a lot of detailing going on behind the scenes that add up for an interesting read.

Sherlock Holmes is, undoubtedly, one of our most favorite fictional detectives out there in the literary world. Tall, Complex, moody, untidy, emotion-less, brilliant, strict, and numerous other titles define the great mastermind. Reading his books provides us heaps of knowledge on Sherlock and illustrates his mannerisms in detail. But, what about the facts that happened behind the scenes in the making of the genius and that are not mentioned in the stories? 

Well, here are 10 interesting facts about Sherlock Holmes that you may not be aware of. So, Let’s get it kicking !!!

Why the name ‘Sherlock Holmes’? What was he supposed to be called?

  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Study in Scarlet,” the first novel featuring Sherlock Holmes, was published in 1887. However, we learn from the author’s first notes that the name of the detective was nevertheless going to be Sherlock Holmes

  • From those early notes of the novel dating back to 1886, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had considered Sherrinford Hope and Sherrington Hope as his detective’s names. However, he decided to go with Sherlock Holmes only at the last moment. 

  • Why the change, though? Well, one of Doyle’s favorite sports throughout his lifetime was Cricket, and he wanted to acknowledge this fact through his character. Sherrington/Sherrinford didn’t give him the satisfaction of the Cricket he loved. Hence he named his detective Sherlock Holmes. 

  • The name Sherlock Holmes comes from a unification of his two favorite players: Mordecai Sherwin and Frank Shacklock. In a way, he pays tribute to those players and his favorite sports through his detective’s naming as Sherlock. Surprisingly though, Sherlock /Doyle doesn’t speak anything about Cricket in the entire series. 

Sherlock Holmes was modeled on a doctor  

  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, was modeled after Dr. Joseph Bell, one of Conan Doyle’s medical school professors. 
  • Born in Scotland in 1859, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh and moved on to work as a physician in England while writing fiction in his spare time. He eventually published four novels and 56 short stories starring the London-based Shamus, known for his excellent observation and problem-solving skills. Those skills were in part based on those of Dr. Joseph Bell.
Joseph Bell - Sherlock Holmes was modelled on him
Joseph Bell – Sherlock Holmes was modeled on him. Source – Wikipedia

Sherlock’s early life and his life’s calling

  • Though very little is known of Sherlock Holmes’ early life or his family background, we do know that he is the grand-nephew of Emile Jean Horace Vernet, a French artist
  • A rough estimate of Sherlock’s year of birth can be calculated from the story, “His Last Bow”. Set in August 1914, the story describes him as 60 years old. That puts his year of birth to 1854. 
  • Sherlock has an older brother, Mycroft, whom he considers to be more intelligent than himself. In “The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter”, Sherlock refers to Mycroft as being “seven years his senior”. That puts Mycroft’s birth year as 1847 (assuming Sherlock’s year of birth to be 1854). 
  • It is also known that Sherlock attended at least one of the country’s leading universities, Oxford and Cambridge. Some believe that he was an alumnus of both the universities. His study of Science at the University helped Sherlock apply a process of deductive reasoning in his work, which took him to great success.
  • Sherlock Holmes found his life’s calling at the age of 20, just after finishing his study. For, he began his glorious career as the world’s first consulting detective, taking his first case, in that year. His companion and future friend, Dr. John Watson, describes this case in his chronicles of Holmes’ endeavors, “The Adventure of the Gloria Scott”. 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed Sherlock Holmes for his interest in History

  • We all know that Sherlock Holmes dies in a story titled “The Adventure of the Final Problem”, after plunging off a cliff while battling with the evil Professor Moriarty. But why did he have to die? Surely, there could have many ways in which Sherlock could have devised a plan to kill Moriarty and save himself.
  • Well, the truth is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle got sick of his own creation. Conan Doyle wanted to write historical fiction. However, he felt that Sherlock Holmes was taking up way too much of his time, and he just couldn’t concentrate on other stories. A break would have perhaps provided the time Conan Doyle needed to focus on his other ideas.
  • But rather than take a break from Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle decided that Holmes had to die. So in the story titled “The Adventure of the Final Problem,” published 1893, Holmes dies after falling off from a cliff. The end. Now, he could focus with ease on his dream projects. 

The public resurrected Sherlock from his grave

  • Things never work as per plan, do they? The reading society of Victorian England fumed over the death of Sherlock Holmes. People wrote angry letters; thousands of people canceled their subscription to The Strand, the magazine where the Sherlock Holmes stories were published. They demanded to bring back their hero. However, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle got away with his creation for almost a decade.
  • Yet, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle took a ghostly hound story to bring the renowned detective back. In 1901 Sherlock Holmes reappeared in The Hound of the Baskervilles. As Doyle needed a strong central character for his paranormal novel, he reintroduced Sherlock instead of inventing a new one. However, Conan Doyle made it clear that Holmes was not alive and that the story took place before the incident at Reichenbach Falls.
  • But, a surprise was in store for Conan Doyle. The public’s response to ‘The Hound of Baskervilles’ was phenomenal. Since ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ was also first published in The Strand, the magazine’s circulation rose by thirty thousand overnight.
  • This response forced Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to rethink his priority. The Strand, too, requested him to bring Sherlock back. Following this, Holmes was truly brought back to life in ‘The Adventure of the Empty House’. At the beginning of the story, Watson is alone. His wife is dead, and he believes Holmes to be dead as well. However, Watson learns that Holmes’s death was just a ploy to hide from Moriarty’s henchmen. And thus, Sherlock calmly re-enters the world of crime.

The Sherlock museum is not at 221B baker street, after all

  • According to the books of Sherlock Holmes, 221B Baker Street is where Sherlock resided. Till now, there are many people (both readers and non-readers community) who believe that Sherlock lives in that address. In fact, the famous Sherlock Holmes Museum is now located at the same address. Strangely, the museum is located between 237 and 241 Baker Street. Why Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created such confusion? Why use an existing address instead of the fictional one? 
Sherlock Holmes - 221 B baker street
Sherlock Holmes – 221 B baker street, where the Sherlock Holmes Museum is located
  • The truth is that when the Holmes stories were published, addresses in Baker Street did not go as high as 221. Later in 1932, when Baker Street was extended, the Abbey National Building Society moved into the premises at 219–229 Baker Street. For many years, people have been sending letters for the fictional detective to 221 Baker Street. And, Abbey National employed a full-time secretary to respond to mails addressed to Sherlock Holmes.
  • Despite being situated elsewhere on the same block, a blue plaque signifying 221B Baker Street was installed at the Sherlock Holmes Museum in 1990. A 15-year dispute went on between Abbey National and the Holmes Museum for the right to receive mail addressed to 221B Baker Street. 
  • However, With the closure of Abbey House in 2005, ownership of the address by the Holmes Museum has not been challenged and remains owned by the Sherlock Holmes Museum. 

Sherlock Holmes is the highest number of on-screen portrayed character and also he is not

  • Sherlock is the character that has been portrayed on screen the highest number of times. Well, there is a catch to it. But that’s for later. 
  • In the year 2012, the Guinness Book of World records bestowed Sherlock, a world record for ‘the most portrayed literary human character in film & TV‘.
  • As per the record in 2012, he has been portrayed on screen by more than 75 artists for over 254 times. Of course, the figure would now be close to 300 or even higher. However, there is no official tracking of the same.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock is followed by Shakespeare’s Hamlet, who has been portrayed over 50 times on screen. Sherlock wins by a very large margin. 
  • However, let us return to ‘the catch’ now. . Though Sherlock is the most portrayed human literary character on screen, he is not the most portrayed literary character on screen. That record goes to Dracula, who, as of 2012, had more than 270 portrayals on-screen. 
  • There is a chance that Sherlock might actually have overtaken that count in the last 8 years, but as things stand right now, Dracula holds the record for the highest number of on-screen appearances.

Sherlock Holmes beats Albert Einstein by a large margin

Albert Einstein vs Sherlock Holmes
Albert Einstein vs Sherlock Holmes
  • John Radford initiated his analysis to find the IQ of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. He published the results of his research in “The Intelligence of Sherlock Holmes and Other Three-Pipe Problems: Psychological Studies Of The Great Detective And His Companion Dr. John H. Watson”. In his analysis, Radford tears down the psychological intelligence of both, since both were believed to have a higher than average IQ, which is 100. Einstein’s IQ was assessed at 160, and the modern world acknowledges that he was a genius. 
  • In his analysis, Radford measures Holmes’ IQ at 190, which places him much, much higher than even Albert Einstein. Also, Watson’s IQ is estimated at 120-130, which is still higher than that of a normal person. Though there have been further studies on Sherlock that tend to lower his intelligence rating, he still remains one of the most intelligent characters ever penned.

Sherlock Holmes, the only fictional character with an Honorary Fellowship

  • Sherlock Holmes is not only the first fictional character to receive an Honorary Fellowship but also remains the only one to have ever received it. The Royal Society of Chemistry bestowed an Extraordinary Honorary Fellowship upon Sherlock Holmes, the first detective to utilize chemical Science as a means of detection in the year 2002. The honor marks the centenary of Holmes’s most famous case, ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’, as well as the centenary of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s knighthood.
  • Holmes fictionally began a custom that is now part of every day patrolling throughout the world in which Science and analytical thinking are allied to battle evil. Since then, countless people worldwide have believed – and believe today – that Holmes truly existed, wandering through Baker Street.

The mystery of John Watson’s Bullpup

  • Sherlock Holmes and John Watson first meet each other in the 1887 novel, A Study in Scarlet. In that novel, Watson is introduced to us as an ex-military soldier. His military career ended due to an injury, and he found himself penniless and homeless back in Britain. And he is described as owning a bullpup. Curiously, it is the only mention ever made of the dog across the 60 stories Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published about the duo. 
John Watson's mysterious Bullpup
John Watson’s mysterious Bullpup
  • The fate of the poor pup has remained unknown and has even intrigued many Holmes’ scholars ever since. Many theories have been put forth. One of them suggests the dog was referred to in metaphorical terms, serving as an attribute of the low spirits Watson endured after his military career ended all of a sudden. His bullpup, then, might be perceived rather like ‘the black dogs of depression‘ that tormented Winston Churchill. However, despite many theories, the bullpup will forever remain ‘an unsolved mystery’. 

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The End

Hope you enjoyed reading the above facts about Sherlock Holmes. If you are futher interested in knowing more fun facts about the mastermind, do let me know in the comment section below. Based on the requests, there will be a part 2 to this as well B-) 

Do check out our other articles to know more about your favorite literary characters. 

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