Steel True 86 years ago

Eighty-six years ago saw the death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

This just one of many important dates in the Sherlockian's calendar but it is undoubtedly the saddest. The average Sherlockian loves the creation more than the creator but, even so, Conan Doyle's death is the most serious of all the Sherlockian events.
The final resting place of both Conan Doyle and his original creation

This is because the true Sherlock Holmes also died that day. Forget Reichenbach. Traumatic as that was for the fans of the day, all the time that Conan Doyle drew breath, it was possible for Sherlock Holmes to rise again. In due course he did just that.

But with the death of his creator came the end of Holmes. Oh yes we have scores of imitations and the character lives on but the Sherlock Holmes that exists today consists of many little changes. Like so many products of the Victorian era he has been subject to adulteration.

This doesn't mean that all his new adventures are without merit but they are not adventures of the original Holmes. They are all missing that thread of authenticity. Personally, when I finish a pastiche or a movie, no matter how much I may have liked it, I still feel strangely unsatisfied because I know it was not from the master.

Without all the imitations there is a good chance that Holmes would be little read today and that is where the merit of pastiches and other Sherlockian works really shows through. The name is kept alive and as a result the original stories are still discovered and enjoyed.

The creation and creator
But what of the creator? In my small way I have done my best to keep his memory green. As one of his many biographers I feel that it was only right that, having enjoyed his work, I did my best to bring him out of his creation's shadow and introduce him to those to whom he is little more than a name. His life was fascinating and much more full of adventure than his creation's and that holds true even when the creation has outlived the creator by getting on for a century.

So I salute you Sir Arthur. My life, and the lives of many others, would be that little bit emptier without you.

Written by Alistair Duncan Buy my books here


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