Sherlock Holmes is one of the most widely recognized figures of literature and pop culture. But how did the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, come up with a character who has become the universal archetype of the independent detective?
In his book, Arthur and Sherlock: Conan Doyle and the Creation of Holmes, my guest today explores the biography of the fictional detective by looking at the life of the real-world author. His name is Michael Sims and we begin our conversation with the early life of Conan Doyle and his experience in medical school studying under a renowned diagnostician who helped inspire the character of Sherlock Holmes. Michael then walks us through the cultural world of Victorian England and how it was the perfect environment for a character like Holmes to be birthed. He shows how writers like Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe laid the groundwork for detective fiction, how the Sherlock stories differed from theirs, and how they were initially received. We then delve into the characterization of Holmes and his crime solving methodology, before ending our conversation discussing Conan Doyle’s intense interest in spiritualism and why Holmes is such a captivating figure even in the 21st century.
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- What inspired Doyle to write?
- What was his career like as a doctor? How did that influence his writing?
- The state of medicine in the late 19th century
- Edgar Allan’s Poe creation of the detective genre
- What set Holmes apart from other fictional detectives?
- Were the novels and stories a hit right away?
- The odd inconsistencies from story to story
- What was Watson’s role in the Holmes adventures?
- Holmes surprising tobacco and cocaine habits
- Arthur Conan Doyle’s spiritualism and how it influenced his work
- Doyle’s interesting friendship with Harry Houdini
- Why does the character of Holmes still capture audiences today?
Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast
- Lessons in Manliness From Hardboiled Detective Philip Marlowe
- The Life and Times of Dashiell Hammett
- Joseph Bell
- Bleak House by Charles Dickens
- C. Auguste Dupin
- The Complete Sherlock Holmes
- The Baker Street Irregulars
- Sherlock Holmes adaptations
- Spiritualism as a movement
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