James Moriarty

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
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Fictional character.

In the Sherlock Holmes stories

Professor Moriarty, by Sidney Paget (The Strand Magazine, 1893)


  • His name was James Moriarty (EMPT, 406).
  • He had a brother with the same first name, colonel James Moriarty. (FINA, 4)
  • He was extremely tall and thin, his forehead domed out in a white curve, and his two eyes were deeply sunken in his head. He was clean-shaven, pale, and ascetic-looking, retaining something of the professor in his features. His shoulders were rounded from much study, and his face protrudes forward, and was for ever slowly oscillating from side to side in a curiously reptilian fashion. (FINA, 96).
  • He'd have made a grand minister, with his thin face and grey hair and solemn-like way of talking. (VALL, 292).
  • He had one of the first brains of Europe and all the powers of darkness at his back. (VALL, 97)
  • He had a younger brother who was a station-master in the West of England. (VALL, 355)
  • Sherlock Holmes said Moriarty thought he was an antagonist who was his intellectual equal.

Also known as:

  • The Napoleon of crime.
  • A spider in the centre of its web. (FINA, 69)
  • Arch-criminal. (VALL, 419)

Public Career

  • He was unmarried. (VALL, 354)
  • He was a professor (VALL, 355), his chair was worth seven hundred a year (VALL, 356).
  • However, he was a very wealthy man. (VALL, 352)
  • He owned a painting by Jean-Baptiste Greuze (La jeune fille à l'agneau). (VALL, 309)
  • His career has been an extraordinary one. He was a man of good birth and excellent education, endowed by Nature with a phenomenal mathematical faculty. (FINA, 53)
  • At the age of twenty-one he wrote a treatise upon the Binomial Theorem, which has had a European vogue. (FINA, 55)
  • On the strength of it, he won the Mathematical Chair at one of the smaller Universities, and had, to all appearance, a most brilliant career before him. But the man had hereditary tendencies of the most diabolical kind. A criminal strain ran in his blood, which, instead of being modified, was increased and rendered infinitely more dangerous by his extraordinary mental powers. Dark rumours gathered round him in the University town, and eventually he was compelled to resign his Chair and to come down to London, where he set up as an army coach. (FINA, 56)

Criminal career

  • He was the greatest schemer of all time, the organizer of every devilry, the controlling brain of the underworld - a brain which might have made or marred the destiny of nations. (VALL, 29)
  • He was so aloof from general suspicion - so immune from criticism - so admirable in his management and self-effacement. (VALL, 29)
  • He was the celebrated author of The Dynamics of an Asteroid - a book which ascends to such rarefied heights of pure mathematics that it is said that there was no man in the scientific press capable of criticizing it. (VALL, 32)
  • His cheques were drawn on six different banks. (VALL, 396)
  • Holmes had no doubt that he had twenty banking accounts with the bulk of his fortune abroad in the Deutsche Bank or the Crédit Lyonnais. (VALL, 402)
  • He ruled with a rod of iron over his people. His discipline was tremendous. There was only one punishment in his code. It was death. (VALL, 415)
  • He pervaded London, and no one had heard of him. (FINA, 47)
  • He was put on a pinnacle in the records of crime by Sherlock Holmes. (FINA, 48)
  • He was the organizer of half that was evil and of nearly all that was undetected in London. (FINA, 66)
  • He was a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker. He has a brain of the first order. (FINA, 67)
  • He sat motionless, like a spider in the centre of its web, but that web has a thousand radiations, and he knew well every quiver of each of them. (FINA, 69)
  • He did little himself. He only planed. But his agents are numerous and splendidly organized. (FINA, 70)
  • He was the cleverest rogue of the most powerful syndicate of criminals in Europe. (FINA, 182)
  • His chief of the staff was Colonel Sebastian Moran which he paid him six thousand a year. (VALL, 386)


Professor Moriarty is mentioned in the following stories: