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Sherlock Holmes and the Books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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The Great Detective Sherlock Holmes was a Character in Books

Many people have thought that Sherlock Holmes was a real person and addressed letters to him through the post, and once when a party of French schoolboys in London were asked what they would like to see first, they replied, 'The house in Baker Street where Mr Sherlock Holmes lived.' Of course the great detective Sherlock Holmes was really a character in books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In one way Holmes was modelled on Dr. Joseph Bell, under whom Conan Doyle had studied medicine, for Dr. Bell was well known for his keen observation of facts and powers of deduction - that is, the way he could reason out other facts from the ones he knew. It was Sherlock Holme's powers of deduction that made him the most famous detective in all fiction.

For example, the first Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, describes how he first met Dr. Watson, who afterwards shared rooms with him at No. 221B Baker Street. Watson was an army surgeon who had been wounded in the war in Afghanistan and was in England on sick leave. He was surprised when Holmes said: 'You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.' Some weeks later Holmes explained how he had worked this out.

The train of reasoning ran, 'Here is a gentleman of a medical type, but with the air of a military man. Clearly an army doctor, then. He has just come from the tropics, for his face is dark, and that is not the natural tint of his skin, for his wrists are fair. He has undergone hardship and sickness, as his haggard face says clearly. His left arm has been injured. He holds it in a stiff and unnatural manner. Where in the tropics could an English army doctor have seen such hardship and got his arm wounded? Clearly in Afghanistan'. The whole train of thought did not occupy a second.

There are four long Sherlock Holmes stories - A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of Four, The Hound of The Baskervilles and The Valley of Fear - and 56 short stories which all came out in the Strand Magazine, the first series beginning in 1891 and the last in 1925. Most of the stories are told by the not very clever Dr. Watson who always has to have the great detective's masterly conclusions explained to him.

As the stories increased in number Sherlock Holmes became more and more popular with the public. At one time Conan Doyle arranged to have him killed in a story because he was becoming tired of writing about him - but his readers were so indignant that he had to bring him back to life!

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