Letter to Mr Bell about Sherlock Holmes (4 may 1892)

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

This letter was written by Arthur Conan Doyle on 4 may 1892 to Dr. Joseph Bell.


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May 4th /92

My dear Mr. Bell,

Many thanks for your most kind and genial letter which was a very great pleasure to me. It is most certainly to you that I owe Sherlock Holmes, and though in the stories I have the advantage of being able to place him in all sorts of dramatic positions I do not think that his analytical work is in the least an exaggeration of some effects which I have seen you produce in the out patient ward. Round the centre of deduction and inference and observation which I have heard you inculcate, I have tried to build up a man who pushed the thing as far as it would go — further occasionally — and I am so glad that the result has satisfied you, who are the critic with the most right to be severe.

I think that a fine thing might be done about a bacteriological criminal, but the only fear is lest you get beyond the average man, whose interest must be held from the first and who won't be interested unless he thoroughly understands. Still, even so, I should think that something might be done on these lines. I should be glad, if you should find yourself with ten minutes to spare, if you would give me an idea of the case which you speak of, and indeed I should be very grateful for any 'spotting of trade' tips, or anything else of a Sherlock Holmes nature.

The book will come out about September, and I should much like to inscribe your name upon the fly-leaf, if the dedication will not be an intrusion. I am sure that no other name has as good a right to the place.

I don't know whether you have read Henley's new book of poems yet. I think that it is the strongest thing that has appeared for many years.

With kindest regards and remembrances I am
very cordially Yours
A. Conan Doyle

P.S. Would you mind letting me know when you come up to town. I should have called when I was in Edinburgh lately, but I only had a day and a half and was much pushed.