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22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, KStJ, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

Sherlock Holmes. Author's Reminiscences

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Sherlock Holmes. Author's Reminiscences is an article of a journalist of The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) published on 23 november 1920.

Sherlock Holmes. Author's Reminiscences

The Sydney Morning Herald (23 november 1920)

In his speech at the Millions Club luncheon yesterday, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said a little more about his famous character In fiction, Sherlock Holmes.

"I was once at the end of the rear rank," he said, relating an incident of his volunteer days, "when an adjutant who had just joined came round to inspect us - he might have been my son very easily. I had my African medal on my breast; and he enquired, 'You've seen some service, my man?' (Laughter.) I said 'Yes, sir.' He then said, 'You've been in South Africa?' I said 'Yes, sir.' He asked the captain afterwards, 'Who's that big chap in the rear rank?' The captain replied, 'Oh, that's Sherlock Holmes!' (Laughter.) I hope he won't mind my speaking to him like that!' said the adjutant. 'Not at all!' said the captain; 'he just loves it!' And so I did."

The mention of the famous detective's name led Sir Arthur into some entertaining reminiscences. "I remember how, desiring to do other forms of literary work," said he, "and being greatly worried by my publisher to continue Sherlock Holmes, I put up a sort of declaration of independence by throwing him over a precipice. That was an indication that he was finished and done with. (Laughter.) But I hadn't at the time the very least idea of how much the public had grown fond of him. I remember receiving one letter, which came from an indignant lady, and began, 'You beast!' (Laughter.)

"I discovered to my surprise that a great number of people really through that this invention of mine did exist; and I remember receiving a number of letters addressed to him, care of me. One curious example of how personal it had become to many people was furnished when, after I had resuscitated him, and put him to live a quiet country life on the South Downs, and said he had gone in for beekeeping, I got letters from two or three women saying that they thought they would make excellent housekeepers for Mr. Holmes. (Laughter.)

"The most severe criticism I can remember of Sherlock Holmes was from a boatman down in Cornwall, who began talking about the matter. He seemed an intelligent man. He said, 'I don't know whether Holmes was killed by that fall over that cliff; but I think he was very badly injured - he was never quite the same man afterwards.' (Laughter and applause.)

Sir Arthur Rickard, the president, who proposed "the health of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Lady Doyle, said that Sherlock Holmes would rank second only to Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, and would probably be even more famous than Dickens's Pickwick. He assured the distinguished author, who was about to write a book upon Australia, that this was the most British country in the Empire, "We are more British than Great Britain," he said; "we have over 95 per cent, of Britishers in this country."