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Sherlock Holmes (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
This isn't technically for something that I'm writing, but I need to know about Sherlock Holmes. I'm role-playing as Holmes and need to know his appearance, sayings, mannerisms, etc. So if anybody has read those mysteries or knows about him I could really use some advice and suggestions.


Senior Member
Sherlock Holmes is the worlds most famous and recognized fictional detective. He solved numerous seemingly unsolvable mysteries, sometimes within minutes of receiving the case.
Sherlock Holmes is not only the 'greatest detective of all time' but also the world's most famous literary character. Sherlock Holmes first appeared in A Study in Scarlet published in the Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887.
Sherlock Holmes remains a great inspiration for forensic science, especially for the way his acute study of a crime scene yields small clues as to the precise sequence of events. He makes great use of trace evidence. Such evidence is used to test theories conceived by the police. All of the techniques advocated by Holmes would later become reality.
The first Sherlock Holmes film was produced in 1900. In 1939 the novels were developed as a series of films staring Basil Rathbone, establishing the trademark deerstalker, pipe & spyglass as a global visual icon.
'Sherlock Holmes, the greatest detective that never lived and who will never die'.


Senior Member
Read Watson's introductions to as many of the stories as you can. It's in the introductions that you'll find all the information about Holmes you need. Pay special attention to the introduction to 'A Study in Scarlet'. I often flip through my 'Complete Sherlock Holmes' and read just the introductions. Some of them, such as the introduction to 'The Hound of the Baskervilles', are especially good. That one I could almost write out word for word. The story itself is one of the best.

Another source for all of Holmes is

Crazed Scribe

Senior Member
The BBC recently did a modern adaption (which, I've got to say, was fantasticly done) of it, you might be able to catch an episode on youtube or something and use that.

I have read a Holmes book -albeit awhile ago. Somethings that I can remember off the top of my head:

He doesn't actually say "Elementary, my dear Watson" in the book.
He has a pipe.
When a mystery turns dangerous he carries a gun.
He would often wear disguises.


Senior Member
Read the actual Holmes' stories. Too many people read too much about Holmes without ever reading the original stories.

There was no 'book' originally. The stories were published in the 'Strand' magazine and the longer stories were serialised.

The expression 'elementary, my dear Watson' originated in a play adaptation of the Holmes character.

Holmes smoked both a pipe and cigarettes, mostly preferring the pipe when in repose, and cigarettes when on the move.

Rarely did Holmes go armed. He relied on Watson to carry a revolver on many occasions, and on the official police for backup when needed.

Holmes was a master not only of disguise but also of acting. He had the actor's gift of becoming the part he wanted to play. If he wanted to pass as an old man, he became an old man, and little make-up or costume was needed.

Go read the stories themselves. They are all available in several places on the Internet and in inexpensive printed copies. You can buy reprints of the original 'Strand' issues which include illustrations which were approved by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Begin with 'A Study in Scarlet', the first Holmes story which sets the background for all the stories that follow.

Once you have met the real Sherlock Holmes you'll not want to hear anything about 'adaptations'.
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Olly Buckle

I would agree with gaza, they are good stories, well written and as easy to read as you want them to be. If you wish you can flip through them and they will give you a few afternoons entertainment, on the other hand after reading them a number of times one discovers more depth in the way they are plotted and written. This is not just a thing of us being a pair of old geezers either, they are not of our time, they were old when we were boys.


Senior Member
They are excellent examples of the way short stories ought to be written. They were immensely popular at the time they were first published and have held their place in fiction over the years. And yes, the more you read them, the more depth you see in the plotting and the more detail you notice in the telling.


Honoured/Sadly Missed
WF Veterans
Check out Moffat and Gatiss' BBC adaptation, especially if you want to see some of the most brilliant writing for television going on at the moment. The first 90 minute episode, "A Study In Pink" deserves careful study with a pause button and a notebook. It's a masterclass in teleplay writing.

It's also just incredibly damn good as well. Pure enjoyment.


Senior Member
Thank you. I agree.

My question about 'adaptations' always is this. If the writer is so good, why dosen't he produce his own original material? Arthur Conan Doyle didn't imitate anyone. The Sherlock Holmes stories are original. Any 'adaptation' is bound to be second-best to the original. Years from now the Sherlock Holmes stories will still be read, and all the 'adaptations' will have been forgotten.

Like a Fox

WF Veterans
I dunno, garza. The TV and film adaptations of anything are just taking the story and delivering it in another medium.
As we writers are constantly told 'There's no such thing as an original story' - So why not take one that really worked and share it with as many as possible, in whatever form.


Honoured/Sadly Missed
WF Veterans
Thank you. I agree.

I can certainly feel the contentment, radiating from you.

My question about 'adaptations' always is this. If the writer is so good, why dosen't he produce his own original material? Arthur Conan Doyle didn't imitate anyone. The Sherlock Holmes stories are original. Any 'adaptation' is bound to be second-best to the original. Years from now the Sherlock Holmes stories will still be read, and all the 'adaptations' will have been forgotten.

Many reasons. A desire to see the stories brought into a modern context, the challenge of doing so while retaining the central aspects of the work. Introducing the stories to a generation of children who simply will not read about Victorian people doing Victorian things. The simple desire to tap into the power that made those stories classics in the first place.

As for the superiority of the originals? That's your opinion. I find the originals boring, dated, historical pieces that do not interest me. I've tried to get into them dozens of times and failed. Not quite sure what the problem is, as I enjoy other works from that period, and even some of Doyle's other work, such as his Lost World stories. I find Moffat and Gattis' version to be fascinating and entertaining, though. Horses for courses.

I sincerely doubt you actually want to discuss this, though. You've made it clear that you won't be watching the show, so you've admitted -- from the very first -- that you will be judging it from a position of ignorance. That's perfectly fine of course. But I see no reason to waste my time on it.

To anyone who reads this and, you know, has a television: check out Sherlock! Great stuff. :)


Senior Member
My reply somehow was lost. I'll try to recreate it because I do want to discuss this.

Somehow you are not giving sufficient weight to the fact that I do not have a tv and can't watch the programme. My neighbours watch the local stations from Chetumal, ten miles to the North across the bay. That's Mexico, and I doubt they run much programming from the BBC.


Senior Member
Foxee - I believe the other fellow has gone, so I'll just reply to you.

It's true there are no new stories, but there are different ways of recycling the old ones. Take Tolkien, for example. If you go to the Sacred Texts site you'll find a long list of Tolkien's sources.

Sacred-Texts: Sources of Lord of the Ring

The characters, settings, and events of 'The Hobbit' and 'Lord of the Rings' are all drawn from middle and northern European mythology. One comment at that site is especially relavent:

'The Faerie Queene is one of the wellsprings of modern Fantasy writing. Spenser, like Tolkien, did not simply retell classical or medieval stories. He used similar themes and elements but put the pieces together in an entirely new way, constructing an invented reality with a consistent internal logic.'

This is one level of adaptation, and it has been in use by writers for about as long as there have been writers, and no doubt was already in use before writing was invented. Go to any of the villages up the Belize River Valley and talk to the old people for whom oral tradition still lives. They'll sit and spin Anansi stories for you, and admit that the stories they tell are variations on themes brought from Africa in the days of the Middle Passge. Interestingly enough, I've compared the plots of Anansi stories with the plots of stories I've heard told by native people in Indo-China and the Phillipines. They are variations on the same themes.

Some of the Holmes stories have a Biblical source. 'The Crooked Man' is the most obvious example since Conan Doyle reveals the source of the story idea at the end of the story itself.

Somehow there is an inter-relationship across time and space so that the same themes and story elements keep popping up. Maybe it has something to do with the basic wiring of the human brain so that the same ideas occur to different people in different places and in widely different cultures.

Another, more relevent level of adaptation is the straight transfer from one media to another, the making of a film from a book, for example. Sometimes it's successful, as with 'Godfather' one and two. Sometimes it's not, as with 'Godfather' three.

Then there is the level of adaptation that, from what I've read, is represented by 'A Study in Pink'. I've not seen it and likely will not be able to see it because I not only do not have a tv, I do not live where a rebroadcast from the BBC is likely. My neighbours watch Mexican tv from Chetumal, ten miles to the north across the bay. The only way I might be able to see it in the future would be a release on DVD.

If I could watch it, I would, just to see whether it is a work with its own merit, or just a rip-off of the name. My experience with adaptations of this third kind has not been a happy one. Most of the time they trade on the name, and the content lacks any originality or story-telling value. Given that the BBC is the house responsible for the production, I would tend to give it the benefit of the doubt.

In my own day and in my own way I paid tribute in my writing to those who had gone before, great reporters like Edward R Murrow and Ernie Pyle. I never imitated them, I developed my own way of reporting, but they did influence me, made me look for the most effective way of bringing the battlefront home to the reader, the listener, and in documentary scripts prepared for television, the viewer. A personal side note here. In the past 45 years I've probably scripted more television than I've watched. Imagine if I had sent a dispatch about a firefight to a wire service editor headed, 'In the Style of Ernie Pyle'. It would have been tossed and I'd've gotten an angry note back telling me not to try to trade on the name and reputation of a dead man.

So as I said at the beginning, thanks for the reference to the BBC series, but without tv I must content myself with the original stories.