“If in 100 years I am only known as the man who invented Sherlock Holmes, then I will have considered my life a failure.”

—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Let’s just hope he changed his mind.

Sherlock Holmes, without a doubt, is the most famous fictional character of all times . From 1887 to the present time, Sherlock Holmes has been the most popular detective among all crime fiction for his extraordinary and classic appeal. 

About Sherlock Holmes:

Sherlock Holmes is the world’s only consulting detective, a profession he invented  for himself. Money and fame does not matter to him, simply a chance to flex his intellectual muscles and practice his unique way of deduction are enough. Though he has zero knowledge of literature, philosophy or astronomy, Sherlock has a profound knowledge of chemistry, anatomy and sensational literature. He believes that the brain has a finite capacity for storing information thus , learning useless things reduces one’s ability to learn useful things. That is the reason why he did not know the earth moves around the sun, simply because it is irrelevant to his work. Though Holmes was showcased as a mere calculating device in his first novel, his character development throughout the novels and stories made him more of an educated human being. Holmes has immense knowledge of human psychology and is famed for his acute observational and reasoning skills. Making his debut in 1887 in the novel, “A Study in Scarlett”, Holmes gained worldwide recognition for the short story “A Scandal in Bohemia”, 1891.

Why is Sherlock Holmes the most popular fictional character?

The popularity of Sherlock Holmes is mainly for his charismatic character which immediately grabs the attention of the readers. If not for his wonderful character and intriguing mind, Sherlock Holmes merits his place as the greatest fictional character ever for the impact He has had on popular culture and literature since his creation. Holmes’ popularity can be understood by the fact that Conan Doyle had to resurrect him after his Apparent death “The Adventure of the Final Problem”. The author had to continue writing stories featuring Sherlock Holmes even after the death of the character and eventually had to bring him back to life for the huge demand of the readers.

The Novels and Stories:

In total, there are 56 stories and 4 novels featuring Sherlock Holmes penned by the author. Financial difficulties lead Holmes and Dr.John.H.Watson, a retired army doctor, to share rooms at 221B, Baker Street, London. Holmes worked as a detective for 23 years , with Watson assisting him for 17 of those years. The stories are narrated by Watson as summaries of the most interesting cases solved by Sherlock. Though Holmes gained recognition for being infallible, he was defeated by Irene Adler – the woman – in the very first story. From a lost hat leading to the case of a stolen jewel (The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle) to the oddly eccentric society for men with bright red hair ( The Adventure of the Red-Headed League) , there is a range of problems solved by the Holmes-Watson duo. All the stories of Holmes’ triumphs and failures are equally engaging and enjoyable. Holmes’ archenemy, criminal mastermind Professor James Moriaty was introduced in “The Adventure of the Final Problem” . The story  resulted in the ultimate demise of both Holmes and Moriaty.However, “The Adventure of the Empty House” marked Sherlock’s revival after the huge popularity of “The Hound of the Baskervilles”. The beautiful depiction of the strong bond of friendship between Holmes and Watson is heart warming and lovable. The other important characters featuring in multiple stories are:

Mrs. Hudson: Landlady and manager of the residence at 221B,Baker Street.

Inspector Lestrade and Gregson who ask Sherlock for advice in several interesting cases.

Mary Morstan: Wife of John Watson who first appeared as Sherlock’s client in the novel “The Sign of Four”.

Mycroft Holmes: Sherlock’s Brother who works as a government official. His abilities of deduction exceed that of Sherlock but the practical use of his skills is limited by his dislike of field work.

Adaptations:

There have been numerous adaptations of Sherlock Holmes in stage, radio, plays, television and films. Some of the noteworthy adaptations are:

Sherlock Holmes ( Movie series, 2009- Present)- Featuring Robert Downey Jr. As Sherlock and Jude Law as Watson, this series is highly acclaimed. Currently , there are two movies in the series with a third movie to be released in 2021.

Sherlock Holmes (TV series, 1984-1994)- Having 41 episodes featuring Jeremy Brett as Holmes and David Burke as Watson, this series stays loyal to the original narrative and is very popular.

Sherlock ( TV series, 2010- Present)- This series has 4 seasons starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes, Martin Freeman as John Watson and Andrew Scott as James Moriarty.  It gives a modern touch to the stories and modifies the narrative to give different plots and endings. However, this series has been loved and has a huge fan following. 

Sherlock Holmes has over 25000 screen and stage adaptations. Guinness book of World Records listed him as the most portrayed literary character in film and television history.

Sherlock Holmes is a name which everyone is familiar with irrespective of their knowledge about him and his cases. Sherlock Holmes is  the finest detective in the History of English literature which makes him the most famous fictional character ever.

By
Srija Bandyopadhyay, Howrah, West Bengal

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