Author’s Note: This article is a recovered remnant of my earlier writing days, originally posted in February of 2013 on The Futon Alliance. Serendipitous that it resurfaced on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Birthday. It was just begging to be posted. Besides, every word still stands.
Why do we care who Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is? Well, you can thank him for several hundred TV shows, movies, radio programs, comics, and books over the past century—like House, A Game of Shadows, Elementary, Sherlock, and countless more. Sherlock Holmes stands among the most recognizable characters in history, wearing a deerstalker, holding a magnifying glass in one hand and a pipe in the other (you can’t really thank Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for the oh-so-iconic deerstalker, though!). Even if you haven’t read through the 56 short stories and 4 novels, you’ve heard of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson.
I, personally, am ceaselessly amused with how beloved a character Mr. Sherlock Holmes is, seeing as how all Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wanted was to kill him off and have some damn peace and quiet. I mean, at one point the guy said he’d rather go broke than keep Holmes alive. And okay, fine, must give credit where credit is due: he did (spoiler alert?) throw Holmes off of a waterfall, proclaim him dead, and make a valiant attempt to STOP WRITING SHERLOCK HOLMES STORIES.
If you’re familiar with Sherlock Holmes you know how well that went over.
Beginning with Sherlock Holmes encompasses nearly every topic I love. I’ve got my literature, my authorial insight, and the years of analysis and adaption (sets an English Major’s heart aflutter!). We also see something phenomenal emerging. When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle finally rids himself of Holmes, the reactions are unbelievably visceral and surprisingly publicized—we’re talking public mourning sessions here, alright? Suddenly there is a group of people so emotionally attached that they are willing to go to extreme lengths to show it. We see fandom (fun fact: The Sherlock Holmes fandom is considered one of the earliest modern fandoms!). Fandom, this beautiful new society filled with people interacting with the text, expanding upon it, and bonding over it. And sure, oftentimes fandom is extremely silly and ridiculous—even viewed as obsessive by those who find no joy in enjoying things.
But fandom is another topic for another time, because I’m talking about how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (you’re never going to forget that name now, are you??) started writing Holmes stories again. I mean, killing him didn’t really get him the peace and quiet he wanted to write his way into a higher order, what with an ambitious barrage of protests and unhappy letters and seriously, if conventions had existed in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s time he would have never heard the end of it. He’d be out promoting his new story and the entire Q&A would consist of “Why did you kill Sherlock Holmes?” “Are we sure he’s dead because we never saw a body?” “Will you ever write more about Sherlock Holmes?”
So the man relented. Tried really hard not, first publishing a story he insisted took place before the Fall (worthy of capitalization by Sherlockians alright??), but it didn’t take long until Holmes was back and solving all new, current mysteries. Can I get a HUZZAH for that? I mean, you go fandom! (Now if only that still worked in today’s world. I miss Wash.)
We can mourn for poor Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose name lives on, admired and revered, as the creator of one of history’s favorite characters. Gosh, he has it rough. Yeah, on second thought, I’m going to pop in my Sherlock blu-ray and bask in the glory of poor Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s unhappy masterpiece.
- It should be noted that the BBC’s Sherlock was one of my favorites series for a solid three years. But I’m not particularly picky—I’ll take me some good Sherlock Holmes sleuthing in many a scenario.
- How many times do I have to refer to him as poor Sir Arthur Conan Doyle before it sounds like a reference to Tolkien’s incessant ‘poor fat Bombur’?