The Last of Sherlock Holmes

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

The Last of Sherlock Holmes is an interview of Arthur Conan Doyle published in the Daily Mail on 8 october 1904.

The Last of Sherlock Holmes

Daily Mail (8 october 1904, p. 3)



The world will learn with very great regret that December next will mark the final retirement from public life of the eminent detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Despite his iron constitution and nerves of steel, Mr Holmes is at last feeling the strain of his great achievements. He will take a little place in the country, and with his magnificent record behind him will settle down to enjoy the remainder of his days in the simple pleasures of the idyllic life.

The bald announcement of his retirement is chronicled in the Bookman as follows:

We hear that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has written the Christmas number of the Strand Magazine the last adventure of the famous Sherlock Holmes which he will ever chronicle. It is said to be 'The Adventure of the Second Stain'.

Yesterday a representative of the Daily Mail journeyed to the lovely Hindhead home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to ascertain, if possible, the reasons and circumstances of the famous detective's retirement.


'A man must retire some time,' he said, 'he can't go on for ever. Yes, his retirement is now absolute and final. So far as I know there is not the slightest intention of his ever again entering on the work of the detection of crime. His last adventure will be a strenuous one, and will, I think, be on a level with some of his higher achievements. After it, he retires for good.

'For a long time he has nursed the idea of a country life with its simple delights. He will take a little place and will go in for bee-keeping.'

'Is it not a probability that a period of rest and country solitude may result in a reaction and throw him once more into the consideration of complex and dangerous problems?'

'From what I know,' replied Sir Arthur emphatically, 'Sherlock Holmes's retirement will be final. He will not again emerge.'

It was pointed out to Sir Arthur that some years ago, after the memorable occasion of his encounter with Moriarty on the mountain-side, the detective was lost to view for a considerable time; was, indeed, believed to be dead.

'Yes,' said the author thoughtfully, 'and I, for one, firmly believed that he was dead. It was merely by accident that I didn't chronicle the finding of his body. This time, however, his exit will be final.'


'No, he won't marry. You will remember he has always wanted time to write a work on the scientific side of his experience. It is possible that in his retirement he will put his mind on that.'

Speaking of incidents in the life of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur recalled Mr Gillette's preparation for the presentation of the famous detective on the stage. 'Mr Gillette,' he said, 'wired to me from America asking if he might marry Sherlock Holmes in the play. I replied at once, "Marry him, kill him, or do what you like with him!"

'Yes,' added Sir Arthur, 'I am rather tired of Sherlock Holmes. I expect the public is too. My first idea of him sprang from Dr Bell, of Edinburgh University, whom I knew when I was a medical student there. He had the clear-cut mind of Sherlock Holmes. He would tell the trade of a patient by little signs about him, and would often state what a person was suffering from before a word passed. Thinking of a detective story I decided that reasoning rather than coincidence should form its basis. Then my experience of Dr Bell suggested Sherlock Holmes to me.

'A Study in Scarlet was the first book I published. It made no particular stir. Sherlock Holmes caught on when I began to write the short stories which appeared month by month. I had taken rooms in Wimpole Street with the idea of becoming a consultant on eye-troubles. I used to wait there three or four hours every day for the patients who didn't turn up. I utilized my time in writing the first of the Sherlock Holmes short stories.'

From that casual beginning sprang the prominent public life of the renowned detective, who makes his farewell bow at Christmas.