Video: The very personal life of Sherlock Holmes: How a literary hero broke out of books into real life
2023 Author: Richard Flannagan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 05:58
When Conan Doyle created his famous character, he could not even imagine that he would literally live his own life. And we are not talking about film adaptations in which the image of the famous detective has been reinterpreted many times. It's about what was happening during Doyle's lifetime.
Doyle realized that he had lost the usual literary power over the life of his character, at the moment when Holmes could not be killed - which, it would seem, any creator can do with his literary creation. Contrary to Doyle's will, the detective survived and continued to unravel the most difficult cases - such was the will of Queen Victoria personally, against which the writer did not dare to go.
But even earlier, postmen in London began to go crazy, looking for a house on Baker Street, where Mr. Holmes was supposed to live. There were many letters coming in - but there was simply no house on Baker Street with the number that was on the envelopes. Letters were brought to anyone: personally to Doyle, to Scotland Yard, to the physician Joseph Bell, about whom someone wrote that he “is Holmes,” that is, the prototype of the detective, and just to random houses on Baker Street with a similar number …
The very first known letter came from an American tobacco dealer: he was very interested in Mr. Holmes's monograph on one hundred and forty types of tobacco ash and he asked in which edition to look for it. So Conan Doyle learned that Holmes lived his own parallel life, making a scientific career without jokes. Naturally, the monograph did not exist, the mention of it was put into the mouth of his hero by Doyle himself in one of the stories, but if real people, made of flesh and blood, are sure that a certain book or article exists, and they refer to it, then it turns out that it, in a way … exists.
Further letters most often contained requests for help with this or that crime, to catch the killer, return the stolen goods, and punish the offender. Although the books are set in the late nineteenth century, there is no doubt that many have written to Holmes in the thirties and sixties of the twentieth century. By that time, Baker Street had already been completed, and the address (if you remove the letter after the house number from it) belonged to the bank. They came to the bank, so in the late forties they even established the post of secretary for letters to Holmes. Letters came in the eighties too!
But Holmes existed not only as the addressee of thousands of messages. After the author's death, he continued his adventures - now on the pages of cheap books that were sold by street vendors - and, I must say, changed a lot in his habits, falling in love with boxing not from time to time, but left and right, just as a solution to any that stood in front of him Problems. This is how Holmes saw numerous plagiarists, profiting from the image created by Doyle. Poor Londoners liked it.
In addition, according to legend, a certain Briton rode through small towns in the United States back in the twenties, posing as Sherlock Holmes and very successfully conducting lectures on solving crimes and especially on artistic disguise in different characters. Probably, this "Holmes" was the actor, because in the part of his show devoted to crimes, he simply retells the plots from Doyle's books, without adding anything from himself. The very idea of the lectures he could have taken from the real French detective Vidocq, who came to Britain to profit a little from the popular demonstration of the "police dressing" technique.
In addition, when the fashion for Napoleons passed, the Holmes appeared in psychiatric clinics, in addition to current politicians. Many of them did not even speak English and lived very far from Britain.
Another legend says that some of the letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes really helped to solve the crimes. They contained eyewitness accounts of various unpleasant cases who did not want to draw the attention of the police to their person, or information about specific criminals. Such letters were forwarded by the bank from Baker Street to Scotland Yard.
In 1985, a selection of the strangest letters to Sherlock Holmes was published in Britain. They show that Holmes, a symbol of seemingly pragmatic and rational thinking, was considered by many to be an expert in paranormal affairs. You can laugh at these people, but it is worth remembering that Conan Doyle, the creator of Holmes, himself, it would seem, a great guardian of logic, science and progress, was fond of spiritualism and believed in fairies. Perhaps if he got his hands on a letter stating that vampires were wearing sun lenses in their eyes, or about a mysterious house that casts an improper shadow, and we would have a story about Holmes bringing an evil ghost into the open water.
Meanwhile, Holmes continues to live his life, and now on Baker Street his house really stands. With a setting so familiar to Doyle's readers from his stories about the genius detective. The house where Sherlock Holmes lived, the mansion where Mary Poppins flew in and other literary places in London - something worth visiting once.
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