“Oh, I may be on the side of the angels, but don’t think for one second that I am one of them.”
Can we all acknowledge something? We live in a world where literary works, art, music, and television fads come and go faster than magazine fashions. It’s phenomenal, in a way, because we are constantly encouraged to expose ourselves to new works to keep up with pop-culture, but it certainly doesn’t say much for the shelf-life of some pretty incredible characters. And yet, I have yet to meet someone who has never heard of the world’s greatest detective: Sherlock Holmes.
The first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, was published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1887. Conan Doyle’s incredible detective story caught on like wildfire and the world’s first fandom was born. Beginning in 1891, Sherlock Holmes Stories began being published regularly. Doyle elected to kill his famous detective in The Final Problem in a final battle with criminal mastermind Professor James Moriarty. This decision was met with outrage from Sherlock’s devoted fans, many of whom began wearing black mourning bands in the streets to protest his death. Ultimately, Homes miraculously came back to life (a decision that was in part in response to popular demand and in part due to…. well…money…) and the famous detective has been captivating audiences worldwide ever since.
Sherlock Holmes has accomplished something that so many people have dreamed of; virtual immortality. Since his creation, there have been around 200 different film adaptations, countless novel adaptations and television revivals. Sherlock Holmes has not only lived hundreds of his own adventures, but has inspired a myriad of characters that have also taken root in pop-culture history; notably Agatha Christie’s Detective Hercule Poirot, and Doctor Gregory House, from the television series House, M.D.
When I was asked who my literary hero was, I didn’t pause for even a moment before declaring “SHERLOCK HOLMES!” To me, Sherlock represents everything that I have dreamed of being. He is brilliant beyond compare, humble enough to admit fault, and strong enough to walk through a world that doesn’t quite understand him. I would never dare put myself on the same level as Sherlock Holmes, but I have always felt incredibly close to him in spirit. Sherlock Holmes made it okay, if not somewhat admirable, to stand on the outside of the world looking in. He never tries to hide what makes him different, but rather embraces it so strongly that he looks at those around him thinking that they must be the strange ones:
“Dear God. What’s it like in your funny little brains? It must be so boring.”
Sherlock Holmes gave permission to those who were a little odd to embrace their quirks and to become stronger people because of it. He is an inspiration, and the funny thing is, I almost think that would bother him. He isn’t someone who is seeking glory and adoration… he simply wakes up everyday in competition with himself. So long as he goes to bed smarter and stronger than he was the day before, he’s won. Sherlock is the kind of person that I wish I could emulate more in my life, and I will be forever grateful to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for bringing such an incredible work of fiction to life.