Friday, September 12, 2008

Special Feature- Popping into Baker Street

Special Features
Popping into Baker Street

So, you think you’re a true mystery fan, do you? Well put on your deerstalker cap and let’s wander on down to 221A Baker Street for a little peek into Arthur Conan Doyle’s life to see if we can separate the man from his iconic mystery solver.

How much of Arthur Conan Doyle can be found in Sherlock Holmes? Well Doyle was a doctor for one, and he was mentored by Dr. Joseph Bell, a man brilliant in observation and logic. No doubt Dr. Watson sprung from here. But where did Sherlock come from? Doyle lived with an alcoholic father and was shipped off to boarding school for seven years. His mother was a brilliant storyteller. He served on a whaling ship and was often short of funds. By all accounts, he had high moral standards and a keen imagination. Sound like Sherlock? Yes, and no.

Sherlock is certainly the intellectual giant, but troubled by drug addiction and a penchant for the melancholy. He excelled at boxing, was a master of disguise and a very poor hand at the violin.
Doyle, on the other hand, was an even tempered man, and by many accounts, admired for his sense of humor. It is reputed that when he obtained his medical degree he drew a funny sketch of himself receiving his diploma and captioned it ‘Licensed to Kill.’

So can we find Sherlock in these bits of his life? I think the answer is yes. And no. Sherlock, like any good character, is cobbled together from experiences and observations. He is a crucible where things come together that the author both loves and despises. Sherlock Holmes was not the sum of what Doyle knew, but what he no doubt wanted to know, a world where order could be restored by intellect, where eccentricities proved to be strengths and justice was restored.
Next week, we’ll take a look at Doyle’s love hate relationship with Sherlock, a character whom he both birthed and tried desperately to kill. Below is a trivia question to sharpen up your detective skills. Send in your answer and we’ll see if you’ve earned that deerstalker cap!

Trivia Question: In all of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Sherlock Holmes never smokes the famous drop step pipe that has become the characters hallmark. Where did the idea for the drop-step pipe come from?


Susan Downs said...

I DO hope yo're going to provide the answer to the trivia question about the pipe! Curious minds want to know. :-)

Thanks for the great feature about Doyle/Holmes. Interesting stuff here.

Elizabeth Ludwig said...

Neat stuff! Thanks for the great post.

Lisa Karon Richardson said...

Wasn't it the English man who played him, Basil Rathbone, who first introduced that particular prop

John F said...

Wasn't it William Gillett so he good say his lines and hold the pipe in his mouth at the same time?

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