Sherlock Holmes is undoubtedly one of the most admired fictional characters of all time. He might not be the first fictional detective in history but is arguably the best.
Holmes is known for his proficiency in human anatomy, chemistry, acute observational skills, and logical reasoning, which he brings into play during his investigations.
Sherlock’s fame and popularity has led many to believe that he was a real person and a character of fiction. From the truth about his quirky hat to his flawed understanding of the solar system, we have covered 15 most interesting facts about Sherlock Holmes.
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The Legacy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Apart from Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is known for his literary works on science fiction, fantasies, and stories about wars, romances, poetry, plays, and other historical novels. One of his short stories, “J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement,” helped popularize the tale of Mary Celeste, a merchant ship that was found mysteriously abandoned in the Atlantic Ocean.
Doyle was professionally a medical practitioner and also had a brief sporting career. Many might not know, but he also had a knack for architecture, as he helped design many structures in the early 20th century.
15. Sherlock Has an IQ of 190
In his book, Intelligence of Sherlock Holmes: And Other Three-pipe Problems, British author John Radford used cases and stories to measure Sherlock’s IQ. Radford concluded that Sherlock Holmes has an IQ of 190. Considering the average IQ of a human being is 70-110, his IQ is remarkably high.
14. The Royal Society Of Chemistry Awarded him an Honorary Fellowship
In 2002, Sherlock Holmes became the first and only fictional character to be awarded an honorary fellowship. At a ceremony, the Royal Society of Chemistry honored the detective for using chemical science to solve a crime.
13. The Name “Sherlock” is Popular among British Parents
Since its first publication in 1887, a total of nine people has been named Sherlock Holmes across England. In the 1911 Census of Britain and Wales, data shows that a family had two members named Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes living in Yorkshire. From 1996 to 2011, the name didn’t appear in any list of popular baby names, however, in 2012, five babies were named Sherlock.
12. There are Hundreds of Societies Worldwide Dedicated To His Life
According to Sherlockian dot net, a website devoted to Sherlock Holmes, there are more than 70 Sherlockian societies currently operational in almost every corner of the world.
A different source, however, suggests that the number of such societies (functional) is close to 280. It lists about 900 different Sherlockian communities that have established to date.
The oldest Sherlockian society is the Baker Street Irregulars, founded in 1934.
11. The Character Was Killed Off, Only to Make An Entry After A Decade Long Break
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes in “The Final Problem” (published in 1893) after the battle with his arch-enemy, Professor James Moriarty. Many say that sir Arthur dropped the character during his initial run due to boredom, while others indicated that it was due to his other interests.
However, due to increasing pressure from the fans, he wrote: “The Adventure of the Empty House” in 1903, where Holmes reappears after a long break to explain that he faked his death to fool advisories.
10. Holmes Never Says ‘Elementary, My Dear Watson’
Throughout the original Conan Doyle Series, Holmes says ‘Elementary!’ and ‘my dear Watson’ at different points, but the idea of putting them together was a meme that was first recorded in a P. G. Wodehouse novel of 1915. It effortlessly conveys Holmes’ superiority to his ‘dear’ friend.
9. Sherlock Holmes Didn’t Wear a Deerstalker
Sherlock Holmes’ styled pipe and hat | Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
An image of Sherlock Holmes wearing a deerstalker hat gained popularity after it first appeared in the Strand Magazine from 1891 onwards. From that point on, the deerstalker cap became closely associated with the character.
But, do you know that Arthur Conan Doyle never specifically mentioned Sherlock wearing the hat in any of his stories. However, in one or two instances, Dr. Watson has described his friend wearing a hat that resembles a Deerstalker.
This depiction of Sherlock Holmes was so popular that it became part of the attire for detectives of that era.
8. Sherlock Holmes Often recruit Agents to Help With His Cases
Before Dr. Watson, Sherlock mostly worked alone on cases. However, every now and then, he recruits agents or a network of agents from the city’s underclass.
Some of these agents are Langdale Pike, whom Holmes describes as his “human book of reference upon all matters of social scandal,” Shinwell Johnson, and “Porky” Johnson.
But, perhaps the most famous of Sherlock’s agents are homeless street children, who he likes to call “the Baker Street Irregulars.” They appear in multiple cases, such as The Sign of the Four and A Study in Scarlet.
7. He Was Considerably Rich
Illustration of A Scandal in Bohemia, by Sidney Paget in 1891
We all know that Holmes needed to share rent with Dr. Watson for their residence at 221B Baker Street, but do you know that our beloved detective was, in reality, quite wealthy?
Sherlock Holmes is known for charging vast amounts of money to his clients. For instance, in “The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet,” he received a handsome pay from a wealthy banker for his stolen gems. In “A Scandal in Bohemia,” he charges a hefty amount of fee to the king.
In “The Final Problem,” it was revealed that his services to the Royal House of Scandinavia and French Government had left him with a load of money, enough for him to retire happily without doing any further work.
However, in cases where his clients are poor, Sherlock only requests for the amount that he might sustain during the investigation, like the one in “The Adventure of the Red-Headed League” or “A case of Identity.”
6. The Sherlock Holmes Museum is Not Situated On 221 B Baker Street
For those who don’t know, the Sherlock Holmes Museum is a private museum situated in London. Though it bears the official address of ‘221B’, the museum lies between 237 and 241 Baker Street.
The museum holds various items related to the famous character, including the recreations of different scenes from the Granada Television series in 1984.
5. Holmesian Abductive Reasoning
We all love Sherlock Holmes for his logic and intellectual prowess. The logical reasoning applied by him is called abductive reasoning and not the deductive reasoning, contrary to popular beliefs. The deductive reasoning is based on available pieces of evidence and data, which is almost always true, however, in abductive reasoning, the conclusion is derived from observation.
4. He is the Most Filmed Human-Fictional Character
Yes, Sherlock has been the most filmed character ever, but there is a catch. According to the Guinness world records, Sherlock Holmes has appeared on-screen on 254 different occasions, way more than any other literary human character.
The character who has outranked him on the screen, however, is Dracula, first appeared in the 1897 horror novel, who has appeared 272 times.
Since 1887, the character of Sherlock Holmes has been successfully played by astonishing 75 different actors, some of them are Charlton Heston, Christopher Plummer, Peter Cook, Roger Moore, Peter O’Toole, Robert Downey Jr, and Benedict Cumberbatch.
3. His Influence on Forensic Investigation is Unparalleled
Sherlock Holmes in “The Adventure of the Abbey Grange”
The Sherlock Holmes cases and investigatory techniques helped many forensic science techniques to develop in their infancy. Holmes’ acute observation of small clues uses of trace evidence (such as shoe and tire impressions), ballistics, fingerprints, and handwriting analysis to evaluate his theories and those of the police, help forensics to reach the level we see it today.
2. Sherlock Holmes was Originally Named Sherrinford Holmes
Before settling to the now-iconic name of ‘Sherlock,’ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle considered his sleuth to be named Sherrinford Holmes instead. The name was nevertheless changed to Sherlock, most possibly due to the influence of two British cricketers Sherwin and Shacklock, on Arthur.
As a youngster, Authur was keen to become a cricketer himself and also played quite a few matches for the Marylebone Cricket Club situated in London.
1. His Knowledge About the Solar System Is Below Par
In A Study in Scarlet, Sherlock stated that he is unaware of the fact that the Earth revolves around the sun, after hearing it from Dr. Watson since knowledge of such things is unrelated to his work. He even said that he would do everything in his will to forget it.
Sherlock further explained to Dr. Watson that a human mind is an empty palace with a finite capacity to store information, and it’s up to us to decide which information is worthy of gaining. Upon further protest from Watson, his exact words were
“What the deuce is it to me? “You say that we go round the sun. If we went around the moon, it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or my work.”
However, he contradicted this idea in The Valley of Fear, where he says that every piece of knowledge is vital to a detective. He also calls himself “an omnivorous reader” in one of the 56 short stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.