Elementary, my dear Conan Doyle!

Being an insatiable trivia hound and a Sherlock Holmes enthusiast, I can think of no better way to celebrate the birthday of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle the mastermind behind Sherlock Holmes – than to share a few interesting facts about the author and his most famous character.

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
About Conan Doyle:

  • Conan Doyle came from a very artistic, well-connected family. Both his grandfather and his Uncle Dicky were artists, and men like Walter Scott, William Thackeray and Charles Dickens were frequent dinner guests at the Doyle house.
  • Conan Doyle attended university with James Barrie and Robert Louis Stevenson.
  • His first short story, “The Mystery of Sasassa Valley,” was influenced by the works of Edgar Allen Poe and Bret Hart, two of his favorite authors.
  • Conan Doyle was offered, and took the post of ship’s surgeon on the whaling boat Hope during his third year in medical school.
  • Conan Doyle’s first novel, A Study in Scarlet, in which we are introduced to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, was originally titled A Tangled Skein and the two main characters were named Sheridan Hope and Ormond Sacker.
  • The character of Sherlock Holmes was inspired by Dr. Joseph Bell, one of Conan Doyle’s teachers at university who was a master at observation, logic, deduction and diagnosis.
  • Much to his chagrin, Sherlock Holmes has remained Conan Doyle’s most famous and best loved character. Conan Doyle actually preferred writing historical novels over the Sherlock Holmes adventures.

“My dear fellow, life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent.”
About Sherlock Holmes:

  • One of Sherlock’s most famous sayings, “Elementary, my dear Watson,” was never used in Conan Doyle’s novels or short stories. It wasn’t until Sherlock’s first feature film with sound that Sherlock uttered those words.
  • Sherlock’s drug of choice was cocaine, but he would occasionally use morphine as well, both of which were legal drugs in the late 19th century England.
  •  All the techniques of forensic science advocated by Sherlock Holmes in his adventures later became a reality, but were generally in their infancy at the time Conan Doyle was writing.
  •  In 2002, the Royal Society of Chemistry bestowed an honorary fellowship on Sherlock Holmes for his use of forensic science and analytical chemistry in popular literature.  He is the only fictional character to have this honor.
  • Sherlock is also the only fictional character to have been given a real life Knighthood by the British Monarchy (along with his creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).

Well, happy birthday, Mr. Conan Doyle.  Thank you for the gift of Sherlock Holmes, who has captivated the world with his crass, antisocial behavior and astute deductive reasoning.
Want to read more about Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? Look for the novels, short stories, and biographies at your local Half Price Books. — Julie

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