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The Student News Site of The American School in Japan

HANABI

The Student News Site of The American School in Japan

HANABI

The Student News Site of The American School in Japan

HANABI

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The Evolution of Sherlock Holmes

The+Evolution+of+Sherlock+Holmes
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Dressed smartly in a tweed suit, deerstalker hat, and smoking a pipe, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes is the brilliant fictional detective who has become a household name. His sharp wit and keen observations have served him well through numerous adventures and have entertained readers for decades.?

The character of Sherlock Holmes was inspired by Doyle’s medical school professor, , and his unique ability to diagnose patients through observation and deduction. Residing in 221b Baker Street, Holmes is London’s famous consulting detective who pursues criminals through the streets of the city.

The first edition of the Sherlock Holmes series was published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual of 1887, titled A Study in Scarlet. It featured memorable characters such as Holmes’s sidekick and friend Dr. John Watson, housekeeper Mrs. Hudson, as well as the conniving and formidable villain, Professor James Moriarty.

The stories of Sherlock Holmes were immensely popular and one of the first to cause widespread fanfare. The demand for Holmes’s crime solving feats was incessant, but Doyle, not wanting to spend the rest of his life writing the same stories, made the decision to kill off the character.?

In the concluding volume, The Final Problem (1893), Sherlock Holmes and his opponent Professor Moriarty plummet off the cliffside of Switzerland’s Reichenbach Falls. The audience’s objection with this ending was far-reaching, and the death of the beloved character was felt widely.?

According to , readers wore black in mourning and “more than 20,000 readers canceled their subscriptions to the popular Strand Magazine, in which Holmes regularly appeared.” Feeling the public’s sorrow, Doyle eventually resurrected the character in the 1903 publication of The Adventure of the Empty House.

Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes continues to endure today, and the stories continue to be remade and reenacted in all areas of entertainment and media. Acclaimed actors such as Basil Rathbone, Robert Downey, Jr., and Benedict Cumberbatch have played the character. Novels reimagining the original story continue to emerge such as Nancy Springer’s Enola Holmes series featuring Sherlock Holmes’s 14-year old sister.?

Recently, the ASIJ theater department performed Sherlock Holmes: The Baker Street Irregulars for the 2023 fall play. This retelling focuses on a group of misfits known as the Baker Street Irregulars as they try to fill in for the missing Sherlock Holmes and attempt to solve the mystery of a high profile kidnapping. With a female Sherlock Holmes and a sense of ambiguity regarding the gender of many characters, ASIJ’s production contributed to the ever evolving story of Sherlock Holmes. The ability to add details to fit with modern times serves as proof of the flexibility of Sherlock Holmes’s fictional universe, and its ability to stand strong as a timeless piece of literature.

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