Sherlock Holmes is by far one of the world’s most popular and enigmatic super sleuth’s having regaled us with intrigue and adventure since 1886. May 22nd is celebrated around the world as Sherlock Holmes Day, with the date being significant not to the character but to the author, Sir Conan Arthur Doyle, as it is his birthday.
The Origins of Sherlock Holmes
In his early years Sir Arthur Conan Doyle worked as an assistant to a brilliant physician named Joseph Bell. As the primary surgeon the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Bell would often face life and death scenario’s where he proved himself capable of drawing insightful, and lifesaving, conclusions from minute observations.
Working closely with someone who personified this level of genius inspired Doyle to pen the adventures of a detective with these same skills. The result was A Study in Scarlet, the first outing of Sherlock Holmes and his friend and chronicler, Dr Watson.
The title of the novel is drawn from one of Holmes’ monologues, which would become a staple of the series, where he says to Watson:
"There's the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.”
Doyle would go on to pen a total of four full-length novels (A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of the Four, The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Valley of Fear ) and fifty-six self-contained short stories chronicling the life, losses and adventures of this foremost “consulting detective”.
The sixty writing span from 1886 up until 1927 are known collectively by professional and amateur Holmesians as The Cannon.
Real World Crime Solving Genius
There was something captivating about Doyle’s deep dive into a character like Holmes. As much as Holmes was investigating a crime the author invited us on a journey into the psyche of his detective – always questioning how close to the line of madness does genius get before it begins to blur it.
It is a little known fact that Doyle himself is credited with having a major impact on modern forensic science through the stories he told using Holmes. In The Sign of Four, published in 1890, Holmes uses fingerprints to track the story’s villain, eleven years later in 1901 Scotland Yard would officially adopt fingerprints as a legal forensic device.
In 1891 Doyle published A Case of Identity where Holmes compares typewritten documents, using the idiosyncrasies of specific machines, as a way to track down the villain. Document analysis would only become a mainstay of the investigative sciences in 1932.
Sherlocks Influence on Pop Culture
Beyond the world of crime detection, Sherlock Holmes would forever change the landscape for the detective genre, both criminal and beyond. It is Holmes who first introduces us to the use of the magnifying glass as a tool for investigation. From children’s books to board games the magnifying glass is synonymous with being a sleuth.
In 1920 Agatha Christie introduced the world to Hercule Poirot. The fastidious little Belgian detective, while Holmes antithesis in terms of cleanliness and substance abuse, followed in his footsteps by employing his “little grey cells” in the solving of hitherto unsolvable crimes. Poirot would also have a friend and chronicler who would act as the foil to his genius, Captain Arthur Hastings.
While there was the highly entertaining action-adventure film, Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr, it was really the 2010 British television series that captured the imagination of the current generation.
The series brought all of the idiosyncrasies of the original characters into a modern world, giving us a look at what Holmes could have been had Doyle created him now. The 13 episode, 4 part series, showcases Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular Holmes and was nominated for several awards including an Emmy, BAFTA and Golden Globe.
Stepping beyond the crime niche we saw actor Hugh Laurie play the part of Dr Gregory House in the hit television series, House. Dr House is a troubled but brilliant physician dealing with an addiction to pain medication and an out of control god complex.
He uses his brilliant mind, extensive medical knowledge and observational skills to solve life-threatening medical cases. Once again, the self-absorbed genius of House is balanced against the caring nature of his friend and sounding board, Dr James Wilson.
Creator David Shore admitted in an interview that naming his character House is a subtle nod to Holmes, who inspired the character.
Slots Based on Sherlock Holmes
The character of Sherlock Holmes, as well as the Victorian era setting, has also found a special place in the hearts and minds of casino Game developers. There is a slew of Online Slots based either directly on the super sleuth or which use the elements associated with him (his cap, a pipe or a magnifying glass) to promote the detective-theme of their slot machine.
These include the following 7 entertaining slots:
- Holmes and the Stolen Stones by Yggdrasil
- Sherlock of London by Rabcat
- Sherlock Mystery by Playtech
- Sherlock’s Casebook by 1x2 Gaming
- Sherlock Holmes: The Hunt for Blackwood by IGT
- Sherlock: A Scandal in Bohemia by Tom Horn Gaming
- Sherlock Files by Red Rake
All of these video slots will showcase Holmes and Watson working together on the reels to uncover the dastardly deeds of his nemesis Moriarty or some other villain – and offer big wins as a reward for your help. After all, even the most brilliant detective needs to eat.
Here are 7 popular quotes by Sherlock Holmes from the novels, short stores and television series:
- “Elementary my dear Watson”
- “The game is afoot.”
- “There is nothing more deceptive than the obvious fact.”
- “When you have eliminated the impossible whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
- “You have a grand gift for silence, Watson. It makes you quite invaluable as a companion.
- “You see, but you do not observe.”
- “To a great mind, nothing is little.”
We hope you enjoyed this look behind the curtain and are inspired to grab a magnifying glass and dig a little deeper into the rich lore of this ageless character for yourself.