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Was Sherlock Holmes a real person

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The best-known fictional detective was created by the British writer Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930). He was a remarkable man, the son of an alcoholic Irish artist he became a medical doctor, writer, freemason, and spiritualist. Conan-Doyle created the character of Holmes when he was 27 and he initially found it very difficult to find a publisher. The first Sherlock Holmes story was A Study in Scarlet (1887) and it proved a minor success. Later stories soon followed and the story about the detective solving a baffling mystery became a sensation. The British public had an insatiable demand for the stories of Conan-Doyle <ref> Edwards, Owen Dudley, The Quest for Sherlock Holmes: A Biographical Study of Arthur Conan Doyle(. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1983), p 114</ref>. He wrote over a dozen stories and two novels, but soon he became bored with the adventures of Holmes and his assistant Dr. Watson. Despite pleas from his publishers he apparently killed off Sherlock Holmes in 1893. This led to a public outcry and it is reported that many fans of the criminal investigator cried when they heard that their hero had died <ref>Edwards, p 119</ref>. For ten years Conan-Doyle concentrated on historical fiction, which was well received. In 1901 he returned to writing stories about Holmes, after pressure from his writing public and lucrative offers from publishers. In total, some four novels and 57 short stories were written by Doyle on the adventures of the detective over his career. He wrote the last story about his most famous creation was in 1927. Since the death of Conan Doyle, many authors have continued to write stories based on the British doctor’s creation. There have been many movies about the great detective and perhaps the most popular was Basil Rathbone, who portrayed the detective on the silver screen in Hollywood’s Golden ear (the 1930s and 1940s). Robert Downey Jnr portrayal of the genius detective was very well received. Many of the movies are not based on the Conan Doyle stories but only use the unforgettable character. A good example of this was Mr. Holmes (2015), which is a re-imagining of the detectives later years in retirement. In recent decades there have been numerous television series based on the character including Sherlock, which has the detective living in modern London and stars Benedict Cumberbatch (2010-2017). Many believe that Jeremy Brett’s portrayal of the detective in the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1984-1994).
[[File: Sherlock two.png|200px|thumb|left| Arthur Conan Doyle]]
==The fictional biography of Sherlock Holmesthe master detective==
There are few references to Holmes early life. It appears that he was born in the 1850s and that he came from the English gentry and that his mother may have been part-French. It has been speculated that Holmes who never married had a cruel governess in his youth and this is why he never had a lasting relationship with a female. Sherlock had an older brother called Mycroft who was something of a genius and worked for the government and is often referred to in the stories. The future detective went to Oxford and it was here that he acquired his formidable powers of deduction. He became an amateur detective after he visited a university friend during his summer vacation. Holmes solved a mystery revolving around secrets from his friend’s father dubious past. The young man later became what is known as a consultant and he worked on many criminal cases. Holmes lived in London in 221 B Baker Street and eventually took in a lodger Dr. Watson a veteran of the British Indian Army and they became partners. The two Batchelors lived in an apartment that was maintained by Mrs. Hudson. Holmes was already an experienced detective by the time he met the doctor. Sherlock became a very well-known detective and was consulted by aristocrats, politicians, and monarchs and even by Scotland Yard. Watson later married and left Baker Street but returned to live with his old friend and partner after she died <ref>Tracy, Jack, The Sherlock Holmes Encyclopedia: Universal Dictionary of Sherlock Holmes (London: Crescent Books, 1988), p 112</ref>. At some date, Sherlock became addicted to morphine a common problem in the 19th century and also occasionally took cocaine. Holmes was also an expert on forensic science and a master of disguise. He was also a polymath and was very knowledgeable of several scientific subjects and was an accomplished violinist. The investigator had many battles of wits with criminal masterminds and his greatest enemy was the evil genius Professor James Moriarty. In a fight with Moriarty, also known as the ‘Napoleon of Crime’, the two men plunged into the Reichenbach Falls, in Switzerland, and it appeared that Holmes had died. Years later he returned to the amazement of many and announced that he had faked his own death. He once again helped British police with some of their most perplexing cases, such as the mystery involving the Hounds of the Baskervilles. The great criminal investigator never married but he apparently had a romantic interest in one of his many criminal foes, Irene Adler <ref>Jack, p 141</ref>. In about 1904 Holmes retired and he took up beekeeping but it appears that the police still sought out his help. During the First World War, his advice was sought out with regard to the activities of German spies in London.
[[File: Sherlock Three.jpg|200px|thumb|left|The cover of the Hounds of the Baskervilles]]
==Literary antecedents of Sherlock Holmes==
Many critics at the time of the stories’ publication came to believe that Holmes was inspired not by a real-life detective but by fictional ones. There are some critics who believe that Conan-Doyle was inspired by the works of the English mystery writer Wilkie Collins. However, undoubtedly one of the main influences on the creation of the world’s most famous fictional detective was Edgar Alan Poe’s, (1809-1849). He created the world’s first fictional detective, Auguste Dupin. He is a very logical and rational thinker who uses reason to solve apparently impossible mysteries. For example, in ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’ (1841), he solved a murder that took part in a locked and inaccessible room. The creator of the world’s best-known fictional crime fighter was a great admirer of the Baltimore born poet and short-story writer. The stories of Dupin certainly influenced the writer and doctor. Another potential model for Holmes was the fictional French detective M. Lecoq, who was created by Emile Gaboriau (1832–1873). This Parisian criminal, like Holmes, is an opium addict and there are several other similarities to the most famous creation of Conan-Doyle <ref> Murch, Alma Elizabeth, and Peter Owen. The development of the detective novel (London, Peter Owen, 1968), p 116</ref>.

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