"I fell into a brown study" The Adventure of the Cardboard Box, Sidney Paget, 1893
Sherlock Holmes Day
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Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact." ~ The Boscombe Valley Mystery, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1891
"The Great Game," the set of scholarly analyses and publications by devotees of the Sherlock Holmes stories, attempts to resolve anomalies and clarify details about Holmes and Watson from author Arthur Conan Doyle's canon of 56 short stories and four novels. In this Sherlockian game, the great detective and his assistant Dr. Watson, are treated as real people (with Conan Doyle as Watson's literary agent). Missing information is derived and combined with other aspects of the stories, along with contemporary history to construct biographies of the main characters and resolve issues within the Holmeseian universe. A character for Sherlock's mother has been invented by a leading Sherlockian scholar, William Stuart Baring-Gould, based on details from the stories. In his detailed derivation, Sherlock Holmes is born in Yorkshire, the youngest of three sons of Siger Holmes and Violet Sherrinford. "Sherrinford Holmes" was one of the names Arthur Conan Doyle considered for his hero before settling on "Sherlock."
Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, was born on May 22, 1859, in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Several societies are devoted to Sherlock Holmes, including the Baker Street Irregulars, the oldest and most prestigious Holmes society in the United States.
Doyle said that Holmes was inspired by Joseph Bell, a surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh for whom he had worked as a clerk. Like Holmes, Bell was noted for drawing broad conclusions from minute observations.
Interestingly, Dr Joseph Bell used to live at 2 Melville Street, Edinburgh, which is just around the corner from 12 Coates Crescent (the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society headquarters). The building is now the Japanese general consulate and features a commemorative plaque donated by the Japan Sherlock Holmes Club.
Considering his origins, there are relatively few references to Scotland in the canon of works. For a list of references, click here.
The Sherlockian game (also known as the Holmesian game, the Great Game, or simply the Game) attempts to resolve anomalies and clarify details about Holmes and Watson from the Conan Doyle canon of 56 short stories and four novels. The Game, which treats Holmes and Watson as real people (and Conan Doyle as Watson's literary agent), combines aspects of the stories with contemporary history to construct biographies of the two and publishes scholarly analyses from the Holmes universe.
As to the identity of "Sherlock's Mom," the most influential "biography" of Holmes is Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street by William Stuart Baring-Gould, a noted Sherlock Holmes scholar. Faced with Holmes' reticence about his family background and early life, Baring-Gould invented one for him.
According to Baring-Gould, Sherlock Holmes was born in Yorkshire, the youngest of three sons of Siger Holmes and Violet Sherrinford. The middle brother, Mycroft, appears in the canon, but the eldest, Sherrinford Holmes, was invented by Baring-Gould to free Mycroft and Sherlock from the obligation of following Siger as a country squire. In reality, "Sherrinford Holmes" was one of the names Arthur Conan Doyle considered for his hero before settling on "Sherlock". Siger Holmes' name is derived from "The Adventure of the Empty House", in which Sherlock tells Watson that he spent some time pretending to be a Norwegian called Sigerson, which Baring-Gould reads literally as meaning "son of Siger."
In a mystery worthy of Conan Doyle himself, early in 2015 a Scottish man discovered a lost Sherlock Holmes story in his attic, more than 80 years after the last tale was published.
The 1904 short story, "Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burgs and, by Deduction, the Brig Bazaar," was written by Conan Doyle in aid of a fundraiser and bazaar to build a bridge in Selkirk in 1904.
To read this recently found story, click Basil Rathbone as the Great Detective from the film series of 1939.