Photo from Edgar Allan Poe 's C. Auguste Dupin is generally acknowledged as the first detective in fiction and served as the prototype for many that were created later, including Holmes. Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it? Conan Doyle repeatedly said that Holmes was inspired by the real-life figure of Joseph Bell , a surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh , whom Conan Doyle met in and had worked for as a clerk.
Like Holmes, Bell was noted for drawing broad conclusions from minute observations. Littlejohn, who was also Police Surgeon and Medical Officer of Health in Edinburgh, provided Conan Doyle with a link between medical investigation and the detection of crime. One is thought to be Francis "Tanky" Smith, a policeman and master of disguise who went on to become Leicester's first private detective. It is not known if Conan Doyle read Maximilien Heller, but in this novel sixteen years before the first adventure of Sherlock Holmes , Henry Cauvain imagined a depressed, anti-social, polymath, cat-loving, and opium-smoking Paris-based detective.
Details about Sherlock Holmes' life are scarce in Conan Doyle's stories. Nevertheless, mentions of his early life and extended family paint a loose biographical picture of the detective. An estimate of Holmes's age in " His Last Bow " places his year of birth at ; the story, set in August , describes him as sixty years of age.
In " The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter ", he claims that his grandmother was sister to the French artist Vernet, without further clarifying whether this was Claude Joseph , Carle , or Horace Vernet. Mycroft has a unique civil service position as a kind of human database for all aspects of government policy.
He lacks Sherlock's interest in physical investigation, however, preferring to spend his time at the Diogenes Club. Holmes says that he first developed his methods of deduction as an undergraduate; his earliest cases, which he pursued as an amateur, came from fellow university students. Watson as a fellow lodger. The two take lodgings at B Baker Street , London, an apartment at the upper north end of the street, up seventeen steps.
Holmes worked as a detective for twenty-three years, with physician John Watson assisting him for seventeen. Their residence is maintained by their landlady, Mrs.
Most of the stories are frame narratives , written from Watson's point of view as summaries of the detective's most interesting cases. Holmes frequently calls Watson's writing sensational and populist, suggesting that it fails to accurately and objectively report the "science" of his craft: Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science and should be treated in the same cold and unemotional manner.
You have attempted to tinge it ["A Study in Scarlet"] with romanticism, which produces much the same effect as if you worked a love-story Some facts should be suppressed, or, at least, a just sense of proportion should be observed in treating them. The only point in the case which deserved mention was the curious analytical reasoning from effects to causes, by which I succeeded in unravelling it. When Watson is injured by a bullet, although the wound turns out to be "quite superficial", Watson is moved by Holmes's reaction: It was worth a wound; it was worth many wounds; to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask.
The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation. However, his continued work and the publication of Watson's stories raises Holmes' profile, and he rapidly becomes well known as a detective; so many clients ask for his help instead of or in addition to that of the police  that, Watson writes, by Holmes has "an immense practice".
Police outside London ask Holmes for assistance if he is nearby, even during a vacation. The first set of Holmes stories was published between and Wishing to devote more time to his historical novels, Conan Doyle killed off Holmes in a final battle with the criminal mastermind Professor James Moriarty in "The Final Problem" published , but set in After resisting public pressure for eight years, the author wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles serialised in —02, with an implicit setting before Holmes's death.
Holmes aficionados refer to the period from to —between his disappearance and presumed death in "The Final Problem" and his reappearance in "The Adventure of the Empty House"—as the Great Hiatus though 's " The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge " is described as taking place in due to an error on Conan Doyle's part.
The move is not dated precisely, but can be presumed to predate since it is referred to retrospectively in "The Second Stain", first published that year. The story features Holmes and Watson coming out of retirement to aid the war effort. Only one other adventure, " The Adventure of the Lion's Mane " narrated by Holmes , takes place during the detective's retirement. Described by Watson in The Hound of the Baskervilles as having a "cat-like" love of personal cleanliness, Holmes is an eccentric with no regard for contemporary standards of tidiness or good order.
In many of the stories, Holmes dives into an apparent mess to find an item most relevant to a mystery. Although in his methods of thought he was the neatest and most methodical of mankind He had a horror of destroying documents Thus month after month his papers accumulated, until every corner of the room was stacked with bundles of manuscript which were on no account to be burned, and which could not be put away save by their owner.
While the detective is usually dispassionate and cold, during an investigation he is animated and excitable. He has a flair for showmanship, preparing elaborate traps to capture and expose a culprit often to impress observers.
Holmes derives pleasure from baffling police inspectors with his deductions and has supreme confidence—bordering on arrogance—in his intellectual abilities. While the detective does not actively seek fame and is usually content to let the police take public credit for his work,  Holmes is pleased when his skills are recognised and responds to flattery.
The detective is similarly described by Stamford in A Study in Scarlet. As shooting practice during a period of boredom, Holmes decorates the wall of his Baker Street lodgings with a "patriotic" VR Victoria Regina in "bullet-pocks" from his revolver. His enjoyment of vocal music, particularly Wagner's , is evident in " The Adventure of the Red Circle ".
Drug use Sidney Paget Strand portrait of Holmes for " The Man with the Twisted Lip " Holmes occasionally uses addictive drugs, especially in the absence of stimulating cases. He uses cocaine , which he injects in a seven-percent solution with a syringe kept in a Morocco leather case. Although Holmes also dabbles in morphine , he expresses strong disapproval when he visits an opium den ; both drugs were legal in lateth-century England.
As a physician, Watson strongly disapproves of his friend's cocaine habit, describing it as the detective's "only vice", and concerned about its effect on Holmes's mental health and intellect. Watson and Holmes both use tobacco, smoking cigarettes, cigars, and pipes, and Holmes is an expert at identifying tobacco-ash residue. Although his chronicler does not consider Holmes's habitual use of a pipe or his less frequent use of cigarettes and cigars a vice per se, Watson—a physician—occasionally criticises the detective for creating a "poisonous atmosphere" of tobacco smoke in their confined quarters.
In " The Problem of Thor Bridge ", the detective says, "My professional charges are upon a fixed scale. I do not vary them, save when I remit [omit] them altogether". In this context, a client is offering to double his fee, and it is implied that wealthy clients habitually pay Holmes more than his standard fee.
Although when the stories begin Holmes initially needed Watson to share the rent for their residence at B Baker Street, by the time of "The Final Problem", he says that his services to the government of France and the royal house of Scandinavia had left him with enough money to retire comfortably. Attitudes towards women As Conan Doyle wrote to Joseph Bell, "Holmes is as inhuman as a Babbage 's calculating machine and just about as likely to fall in love". How can you build on such quicksand?
Their most trivial actions may mean volumes Women are never to be entirely trusted—not the best of them". Watson calls him "an automaton, a calculating machine", and the detective replies: A client is to me a mere unit—a factor in a problem. The emotional qualities are antagonistic to clear reasoning. I assure you that the most winning woman I ever knew was hanged for poisoning three little children for their insurance-money". I should never marry myself, lest I bias my judgement.
In " The Lion's Mane ", Holmes writes, "Women have seldom been an attraction to me, for my brain has always governed my heart," indicating that he has been attracted to women in some way on occasion, but has not been interested in pursuing relationships with them. Ultimately, however, in " The Adventure of the Devil's Foot ", he claims outright that "I have never loved". Despite his overall attitude, Holmes is adept at effortlessly putting his clients at ease, and Watson says that although the detective has an "aversion to women", he has "a peculiarly ingratiating way with [them]".
Hudson is fond of Holmes because of his "remarkable gentleness and courtesy in his dealings with women. He disliked and distrusted the sex, but he was always a chivalrous opponent". Irene Adler Main article: Although this is her only appearance, she is one of the most notable female characters in the stories: For this reason, Adler is the frequent subject of pastiche writing. The beginning of the story describes the high regard in which Holmes holds her: To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman.
I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler Five years before the story's events, Adler had a brief liaison with Crown Prince of Bohemia Wilhelm von Ormstein while she was prima donna of the Imperial Opera of Warsaw.
As the story opens, the Prince is engaged to the daughter of the King of Scandinavia. Adler slips away before Holmes can succeed, leaving only a photograph of herself alone and a note to Holmes that she will not blackmail Ormstein. Her memory is kept alive by the photograph of Adler that Holmes received for his part in the case. He refers to her from time to time in subsequent stories. At that time generally assumed to be , though the exact date is not given , he is a chemistry student with a number of eccentric interests, almost all of which make him adept at solving crimes.
Shortly after meeting Holmes, Watson assesses the detective's abilities: Well up in belladonna , opium and poisons generally. Knows nothing of practical gardening. Tells at a glance different soils from each other. After walks, has shown me splashes upon his trousers, and told me by their colour and consistence in what part of London he had received them. He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century. Plays the violin well. Is an expert singlestick player, boxer and swordsman.
Has a good practical knowledge of British law. Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet Subsequent stories reveal that Watson's early assessment was incomplete in places and inaccurate in others, due to the passage of time if nothing else..