Sherlock Holmes- the genius sociopath who has won millions of hearts across the globe was the brainchild of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose birthday we celebrate today. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was originally a physician but now we know him best as the writer of Sherlock Holmes and his various adventures.
In 1887, he published A Study In Scarlet, the first of the four novels that narrated the mind-blowing adventures of Sherlock Holmes. His work is an unforgettable milestone in crime fiction.
But how did Doyle think of Sherlock as a character?
When Ward Lock & Co. published A Study In Scarlet, Doyle was paid a meagre 25 euros in 1886.
Doyle found the inspiration for the character of Holmes in his university teacher, Joseph Bell. Bell was considered to be the first Scottish scientific surgeon and lecturer at the medical school of the University of Edinburgh. He was considered to be a pioneer of forensic science who would often observe a stranger and by using his skills of observation deduce a lot of things about him to make people understand the importance of close observation while diagnosing patients.
In 1892, in a letter to Bell, Doyle wrote, “It is most certainly to you that I owe Sherlock Holmes … round the centre of deduction and inference and observation which I have heard you inculcate, I have tried to build up a man.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle met Bell in 1877 when he served as his clerk at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Post this, Doyle began to pen down stories that were loosely based on Bell’s skills and life.
Famous writer Irving Wallace wrote in his book The Fabulous Originals, that Bell was involved in several police investigations in Scotland usually with the forensic expert Henry Littlejohn. Littlejohn could have been the inspiration for the character of Dr. John Watson (whose name is inspired by the name of Doyle’s colleague Dr. James Watson).
Joseph Bell also gave his analysis of the infamous ‘Jack the Ripper’ serial murder case to the Scotland Yard. Jack the Ripper was an unidentified serial killer who functioned in 1888, majorly around Whitechapel district of London. He attacked female prostitutes, slit their throats and then mutilated their abdomens. Five of his victims were known to the police, no one knows the total number of women he killed.
In his autobiography, Doyle writes about Bell, ‘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.’
Now you know. Happy birthday to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!
“You see but you do not observe.”
P.S.: Before Sherlock Holmes, Doyle wrote The Mystery Of Cloomber and Narrative Of John Smith (unfinished), many short stories including The Captain of the Pole-Star and J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement, both inspired by Doyle’s time at sea. He has also written several historical novels and some stage works.
Preview Photo: today.uconn.edu
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