10 little-known Sherlock facts

    Sherlock Holmes
    We associate many things with the great detective, but do they come from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? All images: The Sherlock Holmes Museum

    sherlockHolmes-StudySherlock Holmes was again proved a timeless literary hero over the festive season when the BBC’s modern reimagining of the great detective beat all-comers in the TV rating battle.

    Depictions of the crime-fighting sleuth have been a constant feature on film and TV since 1900, with more than 70 actors playing the part in more than 200 films.

    Such popularity has seen a whole mythology spring into life around the character and its author, but just how much do we really know about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his original incarnation of the hero and Sherlock industry?

    1. On screen

    The only fictional character portrayed in more films than Sherlock Holmes is Dracula.

    2. A man of talent

    As well as being a great writer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a ship’s surgeon, a boxer, Deputy Lieutenant of Surrey and a top-class cricketer.

    sherlockmemoirs3. What’s in a name?

    Sherlock was named after Nottingham cricketers Sherwin and Shacklock.

    4. It’s not elementary

    Holmes often said “elementary” and “My dear Watson” but never “Elementary, my dear Watson.”

    5. Sorry, wrong number

    The Sherlock Holmes Museum, officially at 221b Baker Street, London, is at number 239.

    6. On the street

    The address is fictional. At the time the Holmes stories were published, addresses in Baker Street did not go up to 221.

    sherlockshop-front7. And your name is?

    Dr Watson’s first name is John but his wife calls him James in The Man With the Twisted Lip.

    8. Sherringford and Ormand, I presume

    John Watson could have been called Ormand Stacker. Notes on display at the Museum of London show Holmes and Watson weren’t the original choice of names. Sherlock could have been Sherringford Holmes.

    9. Sibling rivalry

    Although a hugely popular part of the Sherlock world, Mycroft only actually appears in two Holmes stories – The Greek Interpreter and The Bruce-Partington Plan. He is mentioned in two others.

    10. Hat’s off

    Holmes didn’t wear a deerstalker cap. Watson never identified Sherlock’s headgear as a deerstalker, and he only wore a cape and cap in stories that took him to the country.

    For a peek inside the Sherlock Holmes Museum, see the Feb/Mar issue of Discover Britain.


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