Detective fiction was a relatively new genre of writing when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle first started writing. The genre emerged through the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe, notably The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Purloined Letter, and The Mystery of Marie Roget in the 1840s.
It was Conan Doyle, with his creation of Sherlock Holmes who firmly established detective fiction as perhaps the most popular genre of all.
A Study in Scarlet
The first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, initially appeared in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1887. Later published in volume edition, it was illustrated by Conan Doyle’s father, Charles Altamount Doyle.
The story details the events following the kidnap, forced marriage, and later death of a young woman in the United States.
Sherlock Holmes introduced himself to the Victorian readership as an extraordinary English reasoning-machine, a man using the latest forensic techniques and a method of deduction taken from Conan Doyle’s friend, Joseph Bell.
Holmes interprets footprints, shoe prints, carriage-wheel tracks, horseshoe prints, bicycle tracks, and tobacco ash. His investigations were the Victorian equivalent of the modern CSI series.
Conan Doyle produced The Sign of Four, the second of the two Sherlock Holmes novels written in Portsmouth at the request of the editor of Lippincott’s Magazine, who he had met at a dinner party in London.
The character so captured the imagination, and indeed continues to do so. There are many thousands of books in print, films and TV series available to keep the interest of fans of all ages alive.
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The first actor to play Sherlock Holmes on stage (February 2012)
The costume worn by Martin Clunes in the TV series Arthur and George. Click on the photo to see...