While growing up, I loved to read mysteries with great detective characters that solved the most difficult murders – and still do. It didn’t take me long to find some of the Sherlock Holmes novels after I read the Nancy Drew mystery series, and books by Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen just to name a few. The adventures of Sherlock Holmes just seemed like the next logical detective read for me. All of these books hold a special place for me and I’m know that they helped to encourage my own writing.
Sherlock Holmes’ creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, was an interesting and innovative man who credited his writing influences from well-known writers as Edgar Allan Poe, Jules Vern, and Agatha Christie. He was not only a novelist that most people know him for, but he was also a short story writer, poet, and doctor of medicine. I believe that he was the innovator of what we currently know today as “crime fiction”. No doubt that he has inspired many detective novel writers.
His first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet, was published in 1887. The last of nine Holmes novels, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, was published in 1927 just three years before his death. Doyle died in 1930; he was 71 years old.
It’s truly amazing that this fictional detective is still well known today after more than a hundred years with many movies starring this idiosyncratic, thought provoking, detective character. It has even inspired a recent new movie starring Robert Downy Jr. as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law as Dr. Watson.
I think one of the most interesting and little known aspects about Doyle was that he was a strong advocate of justice and felt strongly about his political campaigning. He might have been considered an amateur criminologist today, but I suspect that he studied all the aspects of crime because of his excellent portrayals in his Sherlock Holmes series.
Doyle was active in the interest of justice and personally investigated two cases that led to two men being exonerated for the crimes. Oscar Slater was convicted of beating to death an 83-year-old woman during a robbery and George Edalji was convicted of slashing animals and sending threatening letters. Both men were later found innocent due to the investigative tenacity of Doyle.
Not only did Doyle assist in correcting these miscarriages of justice, but he helped to establish protocol to other miscarriages of justice as well. That’s an incredible accomplishment! We should take a page from Arthur Conan Doyle’s personal notebook on crime and justice today.
If you have never read a Sherlock Holmes novel before, I would suggest reading this collection of his works.
Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories (Bantam Classic) Volume I (Paperback) by Arthur Conan Doyle.