Arthur and Sherlock review – ‘diligent study of Holmes and his role models’

This post is by Ian Thomson from Books | The Guardian

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Michael Sims investigates Conan Doyle’s real and fictional inspirations for his great detectiveThe best Sherlock Holmes stories were written before 1916, when Arthur Conan Doyle officially converted to spiritualism and took to table-rapping. A mishmash of new age mysticism and low church gloom, the pseudo-religion flourished amid the bereavement of the first world war and its aftermath; Conan Doyle had lost his adored son Kingsley to the flu epidemic of 1918. Had he dabbled seriously in mediums and moonshine before The Hound of the Baskervilles appeared in 1902, the fire-breathing beast of Grimpen Mire might really have come from the beyond, as we are led at first to believe. Instead, the novel is enlivened by marvellous corny humour. “I have ample evidence,” Holmes tells his client Sir Henry Baskerville, “that you are being dogged in London.” Complete with pipe, Stradivarius and magnifying glass (though not deerstalker: the hat ...