The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
About the Author
Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)
Arthur Conan Doyle was a British writer and physician. He created the character Sherlock Holmes in 1887 for A Study in Scarlet, the first of four novels and fifty-six short stories about Holmes and Dr. Watson. The Sherlock Holmes stories are milestones in the field of crime fiction.
Doyle was a prolific writer; other than Holmes stories, his works include fantasy and science fiction stories about Professor Challenger and humorous stories about the Napoleonic soldier Brigadier Gerard, as well as plays, romances, poetry, non-fiction, and historical novels.
Doyle's attitude towards his most famous creation was ambivalent. In November 1891, he wrote to his mother: "I think of slaying Holmes, ... and winding him up for good and all. He takes my mind from better things." His mother responded, "You won't! You can't! You mustn't!" In an attempt to deflect publishers' demands for more Holmes stories, he raised his price to a level intended to discourage them, but found they were willing to pay even the large sums he asked. As a result, he became one of the best-paid authors of his time.
In December 1893, to dedicate more of his time to his historical novels, Doyle had Holmes and Professor Moriarty plunge to their deaths together down the Reichenbach Falls in the story "The Final Problem". Public outcry, however, led him to feature Holmes in 1901 in the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles.
In 1903, Doyle published his first Holmes short story in ten years, "The Adventure of the Empty House", in which it was explained that only Moriarty had fallen, but since Holmes had other dangerous enemies—especially Colonel Sebastian Moran—he had arranged to make it look as if he too were dead. Holmes was ultimately featured in a total of 56 short stories—the last published in 1927—and four novels by Doyle, and has since appeared in many novels and stories by other authors.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died of a heart attack at the age of 71. He was found clutching his chest in the hall of Windlesham Manor, his house in East Sussex, on 7 July 1930. His last words were directed toward his wife: "You are wonderful”.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892)
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of twelve short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, first published on 14 October 1892. It contains the earliest short stories featuring the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes. Together with his friend Dr. James Watson, Holmes solves crimes that baffle the police through acute observation and deductive reasoning.
Questions for The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Some might say that Sherlock Holmes goes too far in letting some of the criminals that he catches off the hook. How far would you go?
Watson keeps telling us that Holmes is unique, and as such, it's hard to imagine him being part of anything so conventional as, say, a family. Eventually, Conan Doyle does invent a brother for Holmes, Mycroft, who is even more observant and wily than Sherlock, but who is immensely lazy. What kind of family could have produced two such unusual children? Is there any model of education going on in these stories? How does Holmes learn what he needs to know to do his job well?
Irene Adler has to disguise herself as a man to get the drop on Holmes; her past as an actress gives her mobility that, for example, a working class woman like Mary Sutherland lacks. What would it take for a woman in the 1880s to be a practicing private detective like Holmes? Or could a lady even do so at all within the Victorian London that Conan Doyle presents?
As you listen/read, notice the way Sherlock Holmes doesn't always reveal his ideas/plans even to those he works with (Watson, Lestrade, etc). Why does he do this? Do you think this qualifies as deception?
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