How did Sherlock Holmes become one of the most enduring characters that has ever been created? Today’s needull is a book review of — Arthur and Sherlock: Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes | Michael Sims | Bloomsbury. Arthur Conan Doyle’s life experiences were instrumental in shaping up Sherlock.
To be able to create a scientific detective ‘who solved cases on his own merits, and not through the folly of the criminal’, one has to understand science, and what was revered as a scientific method in Arthur’s period. As Joseph Hoffman in Philosophies of Crime Fiction points out, the age of science and technology began in the late 19th century, and with that the expectation that there would be greater social and humanitarian progress. The world expected greater insight and more justice from its scientists. Sims allows us to glimpse the spirit of those times through the experience of a particular person, Arthur. We learn that the University of Edinburgh’s medical department, where Arthur enrolled in 1876, brimmed with eccentric and brilliant professors who excelled in induction—reasoning from the particular to the general (example: these footprints are very far apart, only tall persons can manage such a stride; ergo, this person is tall).