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Definition: Holmes, Sherlock from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Fictitious private detective, created by the Scottish writer Arthur Conan Doyle in A Study in Scarlet (1887) and recurring in novels and stories until 1927. Holmes' ability to make inferences from slight clues always astonishes the narrator, Dr Watson.

The criminal mastermind against whom Holmes repeatedly pits his wits is Professor James Moriarty. Holmes is regularly portrayed at his home, 221b Baker Street, London, where he plays the violin and has bouts of determined action interspersed by lethargy and drug-taking. His characteristic pipe and deerstalker hat were the addition of an illustrator.

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Holmes, Sherlock


Summary Article: Holmes, Sherlock from Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable

The most famous figure in detective fiction, the creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) . His solutions of crime and mysteries were related in a series of 60 stories that mainly appeared in the Strand Magazine between 1891 and 1927. The character was based on Dr Joseph Bell of the Edinburgh Infirmary, whose methods of deduction suggested a system that Holmes developed into a science: the observation of the minutest details and apparently insignificant circumstances scientifically interpreted. Dr Watson, Holmes’ friend and assistant, was a skit on Doyle himself, and Baker Street acquired lasting fame through his writings.

How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

sir arthur conan doyle: The Sign of Four, ch vi (1890)

See also FIRST LINES IN FICTION; MORIARTY; REICHENBACH FALLS.

© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2012

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