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. The fantastic London-based "consulting detective", Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to adopt almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve difficult cases. Holmes, who first appeared in publication in 1887, was featured in four novels and 56 short stories. The first novel, A Study in Scarlet, appeared in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887 and the second, The Sign of the Four, in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1890. The character grew tremendously in popularity with the first series of short stories in Strand Magazine, beginning with A Scandal in Bohemia in 1891; further series of short stories and two novels published in serial form appeared between then and 1927. The stories cover a period from around 1880 up to 1914. All but four stories are narrated by Holmes's friend and biographer, Dr. John H. Watson; two are narrated by Holmes himself ("The Blanched Soldier" and "The Lion's Mane") and two others are written in the third person ("The Mazarin Stone" and "His Last Bow"). In two stories ("The Musgrave Ritual" and "The Gloria Scott"), Holmes tells Watson the main story from his memories, while Watson becomes the narrator of the frame story. The first and fourth novels, A Study in Scarlet and The Valley of Fear, each include a long interval of omniscient narration recounting events unknown to either Holmes or Watson Explicit details about Sherlock Holmes's life outside of the adventures recorded by Dr. Watson are few and far between in Conan Doyle's original stories; nevertheless, incidental details about his early life and extended families portray a loose biographical picture of the detective. An estimate of Holmes's age in the story "His Last Bow" places his birth in 1854; the story is set in August 1914 and he is described as being 60 years of age. Commonly, the date is cited as 6 January. However, an argument for a later birthdate is posited by author Laurie R. King, based on two of Conan Doyle's stories: A Study in Scarlet and "The Gloria Scott" Adventure. Certain details in "The Gloria Scott" Adventure indicate Holmes finished his second and final year at university in either 1880 or 1885. Watson's own account of his wounding in the Second Afghan War and subsequent return to England in A Study in Scarlet place his moving in with Holmes in either early 1881 or 1882. Together, these suggest Holmes left university in 1880; if he began university at the age of 17, his birth year would likely be 1861. Holmes states that he first developed his methods of deduction while an undergraduate. The author Dorothy L. Sayers suggested that, given details in two of the Adventures, Holmes must have been at Cambridge rather than Oxford and that "of all the Cambridge colleges, Sidney Sussex (College) perhaps offered the greatest number of advantages to a man in Holmes's position and, in default of more exact information, we may tentatively place him there". His earliest cases, which he pursued as an amateur, came from fellow university students. According to Holmes, it was an encounter with the father of one of his classmates that led him to take up detection as a profession, and he spent the six years following university working as a consulting detective, before financial difficulties led him to take Watson as a roommate, at which point the narrative of the stories begins.
g. His brother. only to retrieve precisely the specific document or eclectic item he was looking for. His chronicler does not consider Holmes's habitual use of a pipe. such as during "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder". is a government official who appears in three stories and is mentioned in one other story. Mycroft is described as even more gifted than Sherlock in matters of observation and deduction. or his less frequent use of cigarettes and cigars. preferring to spend his time at ease in the Diogenes Club. Baker Street. Watson.. The detective is often described as starving himself at times of intense intellectual activity. with no regard for contemporary standards of tidiness or good order.. Watson frequently makes note of Holmes's erratic eating habits. According to Watson. it is obvious that Watson has stricter limits than Holmes. including a host of informants and a group of street children he calls "the Baker Street Irregulars". Throughout the stories. He had a horror of destroying documents. described as "a club for the most unclubbable men in London". however. Until the arrival of Dr. seven years his senior. but he lacks Sherlock's drive and energy. is to Holmes a wealth of useful information. What appears to others as chaos. only occasionally employing agents from the city's underclass.. Holmes was described as having lodgings at 221B. until every corner of the room was stacked with bundles of manuscript which were on no account to be burned. his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper. stated in an early manuscript to be at the "upper end" of the road. London. from where he runs his consulting detective service. [he] keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle. Holmes is an eccentric. and which could not be put away save by their owner. Holmes claims that his great-uncle was Vernet. Watson describes Holmes thus: Although in his methods of thought he was the neatest and most methodical of mankind . the French artist. according to Watson: [Holmes] had no breakfast for himself. Even so.. and I have known him to presume upon his iron strength until he has fainted from pure inanition. Nor does Watson condemn Holmes's willingness to bend the truth or break the law on behalf of a client (e. wherein.. In The Musgrave Ritual. concealing evidence or breaking into houses) when he feels it morally justifiable. 221B is an apartment up 17 steps.. Thus month after month his papers accumulated. for it was one of his peculiarities that in his more intense moments he would permit himself no food. The Irregulars appear in three stories: "A Study in Scarlet.. Little is said of Holmes's family." and "The Adventure of the Crooked Man". Holmes would dive into his apparent mess of random papers and artefacts. In "The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter". and his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife into the very centre of his wooden mantelpiece . and occasionally berated Holmes for creating a "poisonous atmosphere" of . Watson describes Holmes as "bohemian" in habits and lifestyle. Mycroft has a unique civil service position as a kind of memory-man or walking database for all aspects of government policy." "The Sign of the Four. His parents were unmentioned in the stories and he merely states that his ancestors were "country squires". Holmes worked alone. a vice. lying to the police. Mycroft.From 1881..
so that I never mixed much with the men of my year. he made only one friend. and is usually content to allow the police to take public credit for his work. Other modern readers have speculated that Holmes may have Asperger's syndrome based on his intense attention to details.. often to impress Watson or one of the Scotland Yard inspectors. and many clients ask for his help instead of or alongside the police. however. He does not seek fame. Watson also did not condone Holmes's plans when they manipulated innocent people. Holmes himself references Watson's moderation in "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot". Holmes's demeanour is presented as dispassionate and cold. including Nicholas Meyer. He attributes his solitary ways to his particular interests and his mopey disposition. "I was never a very sociable fellow. however. that I shall resume that course of tobacco-poisoning which you have so often and so justly condemned". Yet when in the midst of an adventure. Holmes is portrayed as a patriot acting on behalf of the government in matters of national security in a number of stories. . Holmes says. he tells Watson that during two years at college. he draws pleasure from baffling police inspectors with his superior deductions. as Watson remarks.. Holmes "biographer" William Baring-Gould and others. the detective warns Watson that he gets "in the dumps at times" and doesn't open his "mouth for days on end". As shooting practice. He has a flair for showmanship and will prepare elaborate traps to capture and expose a culprit. albeit with justification. and none higher than Watson. "I think. so that we had no points of contact at all". Victor Trevor. although he values those that he has. Holmes's emotional state and mental health have been a topic of analysis for decades. as a girl does to comments upon her beauty. Many readers and literary experts have suggested Holmes showed signs of manic depression. At their first meeting in A Study in Scarlet. Holmes can sparkle with remarkable passion. set at the beginning of the First World War. The detective's isolation and near-gynophobic distrust of women is said to suggest the desire to escape. He is similarly described in A Study in Scarlet as difficult to draw out by young Stamford. the detective adorned the wall of his Baker Street lodgings with "VR" (Victoria Regina) in bullet pocks made by his pistol. Holmes has an ego that at times borders on arrogant. Because of newspaper articles and Watson's stories. always rather fond of moping in my rooms and working out my own little methods of thought. Watson. In The Adventure of the Gloria Scott. lack of interest in interpersonal relationships and tendency to speak in long monologues. Watson. with moments of intense enthusiasm coupled with instances of indolent self absorption. Holmes is pleased when he is recognised for having superior skills and responds to flattery. saying. He also carries out counter-intelligence work in His Last Bow. It is often only when Watson publishes his stories that Holmes's role in the case becomes apparent. my line of study was quite distinct from that of the other fellows. Holmes is well known as a detective. Holmes is a loner and does not strive to make friends.tobacco smoke.. such as when he toyed with a young woman's heart in "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton" although it was done with noble intentions to save many other young women from the clutches of the villainous Milverton.
"Holmes is as inhuman as a Babbage's calculating machine and just about as likely to fall in love". in fact. Holmes finds their youth. These episodes show Holmes possesses a degree of charm. owing to his "remarkable gentleness and courtesy in his dealings with women".author of the Seven Percent Solution. have implied a severe family trauma (i. their most extraordinary conduct may depend upon a hairpin".. the explorer Dr Sterndale had killed the man who murdered his beloved. Violet Hunter in "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches"). Holmes states: "I have never loved." In the story. Holmes states.. distinct from any romantic interest." Watson notes that while he dislikes and distrusts them. "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton. In The Sign of the Four. I might act as our lawless lion-hunter had done..e. At the end of "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot". there is no indication of a serious or long-term interest.. Hudson is fond of Holmes in her own way... Women are never to be entirely trusted—not the best of them. a calculating machine". he finds "the motives of women. leading Watson to remark that "there is something positively inhuman in you at times". which was the third tale published about Holmes and the first short story so Holmes may have shifted how he referred to Adler over time).. he is nonetheless a "chivalrous opponent". Watson writes in "The Adventure of the Dying Detective" that Mrs. Again in The Sign of the Four. This points to Holmes's lack of interest in relationships with women in general. Watson quotes Holmes as being "an automaton. but if I did and if the woman I loved had met such an end. appearing in person in only one.. The only joy Holmes derives from the company of women is the problems they bring to him to solve. Adler is one of the few women who are mentioned in multiple Holmes stories. and Holmes is quoted as saying. "I am not a wholesouled admirer of womankind". Watson says he inevitably "manifested no further interest in the client when once she had ceased to be the centre of one of his problems". and energy (and the cases they bring to him) invigorating. a character introduced in "A Scandal in Bohemia" who. according to Watson. "I would not tell them too much. As Doyle remarked to muse Joseph Bell. so inscrutable. despite his bothersome eccentricities as a lodger. Brenda Tregennis. to exact a revenge which the law could not provide. yet apart from the case of Adler. I assure you that the most winning woman I ever knew was hanged for poisoning three little children for their insurance-money". A client is to me a mere unit—a factor in a problem." Holmes is engaged to be married.. How can you build on such quicksand? Their most trivial actions may mean volumes. Watson quotes Holmes as saying. "It is of the first importance not to allow your judgement to be biased by personal qualities. Although Holmes appears to show initial interest in some of his female clients (in particular. Holmes himself is never directly quoted as using this term and even mentions her name in other cases (although it is worth noting that all of the stories using Adler's name come after "A Scandal in Bohemia". but only to gain information for his case. Holmesian deduction . In one story. Watson. The emotional qualities are antagonistic to clear reasoning. the murder of Holmes's mother) may be the root caus he only woman to impress Holmes was Irene Adler. Watson states that Holmes has an "aversion to women" but "a peculiarly ingratiating way with [them]". was always referred to by Holmes as "the woman". and clients in particular. beauty.
In this case. then 'q'. "If 'p'. in amazement. such as Holmes's study of different kinds of cigar ashes—or inference to the best explanation." where 'p' is observed evidence and 'q' is what the evidence indicates. my double deduction that you had been out in vile weather. he writes. When Watson. One quote often heard from Holmes is "When you have eliminated the impossible. "a logician could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen or heard of one or the other". and a billiard-marker and a retired artillery NCO in "The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter". If someone cuts a shoe while scraping it to remove encrusted mud. asks how Holmes knows this. must be the truth". intermediate principles. however improbable. In "A Scandal in Bohemia" Holmes deduces that Watson had got very wet lately and that he had "a most clumsy and careless servant girl". If a London doctor's shoes are scraped to remove crusted mud.Holmes's primary intellectual detection method is abductive reasoning. Holmes is able to infer from his observation that "the sides of Watson's shoes are scored by several parallel cuts" that: "Watson's servant girl is clumsy and careless" and "Watson has been very wet lately and has been out in vile weather". as may be observed in the following example. the person who so scraped them is the doctor's servant girl. and that you had a particularly malignant boot-slitting specimen of the London slavey. But there are also. My eyes tell me that on the inside of your left shoe. by studying inanimate objects. By applying such principles in an obvious way (using repeated applications of modus ponens). Holmes employed several connected principles: If leather on the side of a shoe is scored by several parallel cuts. If someone's shoes had encrusted mud on them. such as a Retired Sergeant of Marines in A Study in Scarlet. a former ship's carpenter turned pawnbroker in "The Red-Headed League". that person is clumsy and careless. Holmes answers: It is simplicity itself ." "Holmesian deduction" appears to consist primarily of drawing inferences based on either straightforward practical principles—which are the result of careful observation. the leather is scored by six almost parallel cuts. when it is likely he became very wet. just where the firelight strikes it. "From a drop of water". Obviously they have been caused by someone who has very carelessly scraped round the edges of the sole in order to remove crusted mud from it. it was caused by someone who scraped around the edges of the sole in order to remove crusted mud. Hence.. whatever remains. you see. then they are likely to have been worn by him in the rain. Sherlock Holmes's straightforward practical principles are generally of the form. Deductive reasoning allows Holmes to impressively reveal a stranger's occupation. Similarly. Holmes stories often begin with a bravura display of his talent for "deduction"... It is of some interest to logicians and those interested in logic to try to analyse just what Holmes is doing when he performs his "deductions. Holmes is able to .
Weapons and martial arts Pistols Holmes and Watson carry pistols with them in the case of Watson often his old service revolver—a Mk II Adams Revolver. kindly whisper ‗Norbury‘ in my ear. Sword In "A Study in Scarlet" Watson describes Holmes as an expert with a sword—although none of the stories have Holmes using a sword. often carries a stick or cane. In "The Adventure of the Empty House". The following revolvers have been connected with Holmes and Watson: A Mk II Beaumont-Adams Revolver (Watson's old army revolver) In many film and television adaptations. In The Hound of the Baskervilles. In several stories. In "The Problem of Thor Bridge". he adopts disguises to gather evidence while 'under cover' so convincing that even Watson fails to penetrate them. or giving less pains to a case than it deserves. At the end of the tale a sobered Holmes tells Watson.make astonishingly detailed deductions about their owners. including Watson's pocket-watch in "The Sign of the Four" as well as a hat. and I shall be infinitely obliged to you‖. it is revealed that Holmes decorated the wall of their flat with a patriotic "V. Watson pistol-whips Colonel Sebastian Moran. It is mentioned in "Gloria Scott" that Holmes practised fencing. and a walking stick in other stories. they both fire at the Andaman Islander. which would be impossible since production of the Mk VI did not begin until 1915 A Webley Bulldog (carried by Holmes) Cane Holmes. or to incriminate those involved. ―If it should ever strike you that I am getting a little over-confident in my powers. as a gentleman. In other adventures. In "The Musgrave Ritual". a pipe. Yet Doyle is careful not to present Holmes as infallible—a central theme in "The Adventure of the Yellow Face". Holmes feigns being wounded or ill to give effect to his case.R." done in bullet marks. In "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs". "The Man with the Twisted Lip". Disguise Holmes displays a strong aptitude for acting and disguise. He is described by Watson as an expert at singlestick and twice uses his cane as a weapon. Watson describes these weapons as being used on seven occasions: in The Sign of the Four. Watson's revolver is a Webley Mk VI. Holmes uses Watson's revolver in a reconstruction of the crime. both Holmes and Watson fire. Riding crop . such as in "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton". as was issued to British troops in the 1870s. Watson fires at and kills the mastiff. In "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches". Holmes pistol-whips Killer Evans after Watson is shot. "The Adventure of the Empty House" and "A Scandal in Bohemia". as in "The Adventure of the Dying Detective" and "A Scandal in Bohemia".
" n the first story. which combined jujitsu with Holmes's canonical skills of boxing and cane fencing. Fist-fighting Holmes is described as a formidable bare-knuckle fighter. "Ah. if you had joined the fancy". you have! You might have aimed high. (When he appears for the first time. you're one that has wasted your gifts. Dr. McMurdo responds by saying. or the Japanese system of wrestling. In The Sign of the Four. which has more than once been very useful to me"." Martial arts In "The Adventure of the Empty House". 'I am not quite so bulky. however. "I have some knowledge. Using a "hunting crop". with a sudden effort. straightened it out again. It is mentioned also in "Gloria Scott" that Holmes trained as a boxer. 6 feet tall and wide as a doorframe. Holmes introduces himself to a prize-fighter as: "The amateur who fought three rounds with you at Alison's rooms on the night of your benefit four years back". he is crowing with delight at having invented a new method for detecting bloodstains. Holmes maintains strict adherence to scientific methods and focuses on logic and the powers of observation and deduction. in "The Adventure of the Speckled Band". sometimes filling the rooms with foul-smelling vapours. demonstrates his strength by bending a fire poker in half. almost all of which turn out to be single-mindedly bent towards making him superior at solving crimes. but if he had remained I might have shown him that my grip was not much more feeble than his own. Holmes recounts to Watson how he used martial arts to overcome Professor Moriarty and fling his adversary to his death down the Reichenbach Falls. of baritsu. In early 1881. presents more background on what influenced Holmes to become a detective: a college friend's father richly complimented his deductive skills.) An early story. After the Doctor leaves. In several stories. Physical Condition In several stories. Holmes is described or demonstrated as having above average physical strength. As an example. Holmes appears equipped with a riding crop and in "A Case of Identity" comes close to thrashing a swindler with it. Holmes "said laughing. and in "The Yellow Face" Watson comments that "he was undoubtedly one of the finest boxers of his weight that I have ever seen. that "Few men were capable of greater muscular effort. He states." In "The Yellow Face" Watson comments of Holmes. something of Holmes's background is given. Holmes knocks a pistol from John Clay's hand in "The Red-Headed League". The name "baritsu" appears to be a reference to the real-life martial art of Bartitsu. which was widely popular in Victorian times but now regarded as pseudo-scientific: In "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle". "The Adventure of the Gloria Scott". In "The Six Napoleons" it is described as his favourite weapon—he uses it to break open one of the plaster busts. in other stories he indulges in recreational homechemistry experiments. Roylott. inevitably emerging the victor. he infers from the . Holmes engages in hand-to-hand combat with his adversaries on occasions throughout the stories.' As he spoke he picked up the steel poker and. A Study in Scarlet. Holmes also makes use of phrenology. he is presented as an independent student of chemistry with a variety of very curious side interests.
Watson subsequently assesses Holmes's abilities thus: Knowledge of Literature – nil. Plays the violin well. 2. on the grounds that ―a man with so large a brain must have something in it‖. He is able to quote from a letter of Flaubert to George Sand and in the original French. 6. Despite Holmes's supposed ignorance of politics. Tells at a glance different soils from each other. Knowledge of Anatomy – Accurate. in The Hound of the Baskervilles. Knowledge of Philosophy – nil.. but that is mere jealousy. Knowledge of Geology – Practical. --Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 1. it is shown that Holmes knows Latin and needs no translation of Roman epigrams in the original—though knowledge of the language would be of dubious direct utility for detective work. Knowledge of Chemistry – Profound.. all university students were required to learn Latin at that time. He says he believes that the mind has a finite capacity for information storage. he says he will immediately try to forget it. 12. 9. Has a good practical knowledge of British law. since our views upon the subject differ. Knows nothing of practical gardening. Is an expert singlestick player. in "The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans" Watson reports that in November 1895 "Holmes lost himself in a monograph which he had undertaken upon the Polyphonic . 5. and so learning useless things would merely reduce his ability to learn useful things. but unsystematic. Knowledge of Botany – Variable. Dr. He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century. 3. Indeed. saying.large size of a man's hat that the owner is intelligent and intellectually inclined. has shown me splashes upon his trousers. "I know what is good when I see it. in "A Scandal in Bohemia" he immediately recognises the true identity of the supposed "Count von Kramm". Directly after having heard that fact from Watson. even Goethe..Watson won't allow that I know anything of art. A Study in Scarlet At the very end of A Study in Scarlet itself. Holmes claims he does not know that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Shakespeare. Holmes is able to recognise works by Martin Knoller and Joshua Reynolds as such. but limited. boxer and swordsman." Moreover. as such information is irrelevant to his work. Later stories also contradict the list. 11. After walks. Knowledge of Politics – Feeble. In A Study in Scarlet. 4. 10. Well up in belladonna. "Excuse the admiration of a connoisseur. Knowledge of Sensational Literature – Immense. 7." He goes on to explain. 8. Knowledge of Astronomy – nil. opium and poisons generally. Regarding nonsensational literature. and told me by their colour and consistence in what part of London he had received them. his speech is replete with references to the Bible.
notably in "The Red-Headed League". shows Holmes as a brilliant secondary school student. "I am fairly familiar with all forms of secret writing. wherein Holmes takes an evening off from a case to listen to Pablo de Sarasate play violin. which speculates about Holmes's youthful adventures. being mentored simultaneously by an eccentric professor/inventor and his dedicated fencing instructor. with Some Observations upon the Segregation of the Queen". and near the end of "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane" he describes himself as "an omnivorous reader with a strangely retentive memory for trifles". "The Adventure of the Priory School". Despite the excitement of his life (or perhaps seeking to leave it behind). His methods include the use of latent prints such as footprints. He relates to Watson. The Hound of the Baskervilles. the use of gunpowder residue to expose two murderers ("The Adventure of the Reigate Squire"). Holmes's analysis of physical evidence is both scientific and precise. in the second chapter of The Valley of Fear. particularly Wagner ("The Adventure of the Red Circle"). Holmes retired to the Sussex Downs to take up beekeeping ("The Second Stain") and wrote a book on the subject entitled "Practical Handbook of Bee Culture. One such scheme is solved using frequency analysis in "The Adventure of the Dancing Men". Holmes also demonstrates knowledge of psychology in "A Scandal in Bohemia". Holmes instead declares that "all knowledge comes useful to the detective". luring Irene Adler into betraying where she had hidden a photograph based on the "premise" that an unmarried woman will seek her most valuable possession in case of fire. The later stories abandon the notion that Holmes did not want to know anything unless it had immediate relevance for his profession. the comparison of typewritten letters to expose a fraud ("A Case of Identity"). for which Holmes would have had to "clutter his memory" with an enormous amount of information which had absolutely nothing to do with crime-fighting—knowledge so extensive that his monograph was regarded as "the last word" on the subject. hoof prints and bicycle tracks to identify actions at a crime scene (A Study in Scarlet. Holmes is also a competent cryptanalyst. the use of tobacco ashes and cigarette butts to identify criminals ("The Adventure of the Resident Patient". His search for relaxation can also be seen in his love for music. "The Boscombe Valley Mystery"). The film Young Sherlock Holmes (1985). He also enjoys vocal music. whereas a married woman will grab her baby instead.Motets of Lassus"—a most esoteric field. bullet comparison from two crime scenes ("The Adventure of the Empty House"). The Hound of the Baskervilles). "The Adventure of Silver Blaze". analysis of small pieces of human remains to expose two murders (The Adventure of the Cardboard Box) and even an early use of fingerprints ("The Norwood Builder"). in which I analyse one hundred and sixty separate ciphers". and am myself the author of a trifling monograph upon the subject. .
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