I've remarked before how I have read (and watched) aghast as young people treated Sherlock's death as if it were almost worse news than a natural disaster even though it was unlikely, bordering on impossible, that this incarnation of Mr Holmes was actually going to stay dead. Better yet, we were all told at the end of the very same episode that he was still alive. The only torture being endured by fans of the show is the wait for the return - but you do know that it is coming.
Now spare a thought for the fans of Sherlock Holmes in 1893. When they picked up their copy of The Strand in December and read Watson's summing up of the conflict between Holmes and Moriarty they went through emotions very similar to those of today's teens to twenty-somethings (and older). But what they didn't have was a closing scene of Holmes watching Watson from afar - very much alive. The Victorian fans of Holmes were not going to get that scene for ten years. It puts the wait for Sherlock into perspective doesn't it?
From 1893 to 1901 the fans of the original Sherlock Holmes had nothing. Today's fans have a myriad of outlets to keep them occupied, if not entirely satisfied, until the return. The original fans had no return. To them Holmes really was dead. The Strand felt the effects of their displeasure with many cancelled subscriptions which showed, if it really needed demonstrating, that many people bought the magazine just for Holmes.
Even when Arthur Conan Doyle finally put Holmes out there again, in The Hound of the Baskervilles, the joy of the fans was tempered by the fact that this was clearly a story from before Holmes's death. This was not a return, it was just a glimpse into the past (albeit one serialised over some nine months). Would there be more rummaging through the historic cases? Nobody really knew - arguably not even Conan Doyle. The Hound made its appearance in 1901 some eight years after Holmes's death. Could you modern fans even conceive of such a wait for a mere temporary return? Judging by the internet most of the newer fans of Holmes are struggling with a mere quarter of that wait.
So spare a thought for the Victorian audience. They had to go through far worse than you.
Written by Alistair DuncanBuy my books here