12 Mysterious Facts We Uncovered About Sherlock Holmes

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Sherlock Holmes is one of the best known literary characters of all time, with books, spinoffs, riffs, television shows, and movies tackling his legacy over the years.

Even so, chances are there is still plenty that you don’t know about him – and if you’re curious, we’ve unearthed these 12 curious facts about the world’s favorite sleuth (besides Nancy Drew, I mean).

12. His cases are not true crime stories.

Though Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s historical novels were well-researched, his Holmes stories were written in two-to-four weeks and pretty much anything went.

11. Sherlockians (or Holmesians) exist.

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There are around 300 societies dedicated to Sherlock Holmes around the world.

Typically, Sherlockians are American fans and the Brits are Holmesians.

10. Doyle was on a nature hike when he decided how Holmes would die.

Doyle thought he needed to kill off the detective in order to get on with his own life, and resolved to do it despite everyone begging him to reconsider.

As he was hiking near Reichenbach Falls, he decided it would be a fitting grave for the world icon he created.

9. Holmes has influenced many elite writers.


From T.S. Eliot to John Le Carre and Dorothy Sayers, many classic authors believed they owed the great detective at least part of their success.

8. It all began with Edgar Allen Poe.

Edgar Allen Poe was the first to introduce a detective whose cases spanned a series of stories.

Conan Doyle brought that idea together with the serial format, elevated both with his prose and pacing, and a star was born!

7. Holmes was originally a doctor.


Conan Doyle had a medical school professor with an astonishing eye for detail.

The original character of Holmes resembles him so much that a fellow student called out the resemblance.

6. Or maybe he wasn’t.

Others believe that a real-life case in which a London baker disappeared might have been the inspiration for Holmes.

A German “consulting detective” was brought on to help, but there’s no definitive proof that this influenced Conan Doyle.

5. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle revolutionized serialized storytelling.

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Stories of the time were serialized so the story continued every week or month, depending on the publishing schedule. This format was fun, but it was mostly designed to keep people buying magazines, and could frustrate people if they missed an issue.

Conan Doyle chose instead to continue the characters but write each story as a standalone mystery.

4. The author himself has become a literary icon.

Along with his most famous character, Conan Doyle has himself become a compelling fictionalized character on the page, stage, small and big screens.

3. Holmes was an immediate success.


The detective was a viral sensation within a year of being published, with some magazines even parodying the character and others straight ripping him off.

2. Some people called Arthur Conan Doyle crazy.

The author got deeply involved in spiritualism as he aged, investing serious capital in spreading the message. One headline at the time asked whether or not he might be “hopelessly crazy.”

1. People are still looking for 221B Baker St.


Sherlock Holmes’ London is as real as it gets, but his fictional apartment remains a mystery. The addresses on the actual street don’t go that high, and Doyle always refused to divulge his inspiration as far as setting.

These were definitely fun to be reminded of, or to learn for the first time – literary characters have so much more depth than we realize sometimes!

Were these new to you? Do you love Sherlock Holmes? Share your favorite stories with us in the comments!