Elementary! Fun facts about everyone’s favourite detective
1. Sherlock was called Sherrinford
Originally Sir Arthur Conan Doyle named the sleuth Sherrinford but changed his mind – perhaps because there were well-known Nottingham cricketers called Sherwin and Shacklock and the author was a big fan of the sport.
2. John Watson was nearly called Ormand Stacker
There are notes in the Museum of London that suggest both characters might have had very different names.
3. Holmes was inspired by a teacher
Conan Doyle was so impressed by Dr Joseph Bell, a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, who could diagnose patients on sight, that he based Sherlock’s skills of perception on him.
4. A Study in Scarlet wasn’t popular
His first adventure was rejected by several publishers and printed in Beeton’s Christmas Annual, which was not a success.
5. Sherlock Holmes is the most popular film character
…or at least, the most popular human character! He’s been in 226 films while Dracula has been in 239!
6. And he’s been on film for more than 100 years
With the first silent version – Sherlock Holmes Baffled – made in 1900.
7. Sherlock never says ‘Elementary, my dear Watson’
It feels like everything we know is a lie! While the detective says ‘elementary’ and ‘my dear Watson’ several times, he never puts the two together.
8. Mycroft Holmes is only in two stories
Although he’s often given a bigger role in TV shows and films, Sherlock’s brother Mycroft actually only appears in The Greek Interpreter and The Bruce-Partington Plans.
9. Queen Victoria was a Sherlock fan
In the story The Bruce-Partington Plans, Sherlock is invited to Windsor to meet Queen Victoria in recognition of his services, and is presented with an emerald tiepin.
10. Conan Doyle tried to kill Sherlock Holmes because he was bored
After two years of writing the popular stories, the author was sick of the detective, and complained ‘it takes my mind from other things’.
11. Watson and Holmes win at chess
In the 1969 Oxford-Cambridge chess match, Oxford players called Watson and Holmes both won their games.
12. The Sherlock Holmes Museum isn’t at 221b Baker Street
It’s actually at number 239.
13. Sherlock’s IQ is 190
Or at least that’s what a man called John Radford estimates in his book The Intelligence of Sherlock Holmes and other Three-Pipe Problems. The average is between 100 and 110, while Einstein’s was 160.
14. Sherlock Holmes is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry
Yes, despite being a fictional character, the RSC offered him a fellowship in 2002, and presented his award to Dr John Watson (a real man who is also a fellow!) in front of the statue of Holmes outside Baker Street station.
15. The Speckled Band is the most popular Sherlock Holmes story
Not only was it Conan Doyle’s favourite, but it frequently tops reader polls.
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