“Holmesian: of, characteristic of, or suggestive of the detective Sherlock Holmes”
Who knew? Scanning my dictionary, this sprightly adjective caught my eye. Fascinating to think that even Merriam Webster’s treats Holmes as if he were a real person rather than a fictional fellow! I also had to chuckle at this because I’d literally just finished reading a fascinating article about our boy Sherlock which somehow popped up in my office. Its author boldly places Holmes in the same legendary league as Hamlet, Don Quixote, Robinson Crusoe, and Romeo.
Hamlet and Holmes. Mmm…now there’s a literary combo worth musing upon. Hamlet in a deerstalker cap and Holmes wringing his hands and moaning, “To be or not to be…” Sounds like something Sherringford — our hero’s original name — might do, but Sherlock? Impossible! Luckily, A. Conan Doyle deep-sixed the clumsy Sherringford and persisted in getting his first story, “A Study in Scarlet” into print with the goal of boosting his meager income as a new doctor. Doyle modeled his colorful detective with amazing powers of deduction on a surgeon he studied with who had an eerie knack for instantly diagnosing personality traits and occupations.
After a slow start, Sherlock gathered steam and brought Doyle both fame and fortune. He wrote more than 60 Holmes stories and retreated to a handsome estate in Sussex, England with his earnings. There, Doyle often received letters with requests that he forward them onto Holmes; Dr. Watson also received countless letters at Doyle’s address.
In his last Holmes episode, penned in 1927, Doyle graciously thanked his vast audience for its loyalty with these words, “…and so, reader, farewell to Sherlock Holmes. I thank you for your constancy and can but hope that some return has been made in the shape of that distraction from the worries of life and stimulating change of thought which can only be found in the fairy kingdom of romance.” I guess Doyle was gently trying to remind his readers that Sherlock’s fertile mind and life flowed from a pen.
And to think that the first Holmes story was rejected by countless publishers. “Elementary, my dear Watson!”