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He was born into a poor family and was one of his parents ten children. After school Doyle stayed in Edinburgh to study medicine. Here is where many say Doyle’s stories began. While studying medicine, Doyle worked under Dr Joseph Bell. Doyle became fascinated by Bells ability to make deductions about the history of his patients, based on the powers of observation. Bell became the eventual model for Sherlock Holmes. Doyle’s first Holmes story ‘A study in scarlet’ was published in 1887. This story was a big success with the upper/middle class, whom the books were aimed at. Following the success of his first short story Doyle continued to write more of Holmes adventures.
Doyle however became worried that he would only recognised for his Holmes novels, when he would rather be recognised in the fields of ‘real literature.’ In December 1893 Holmes, met his death at the hands of Professor Moriarty, his ‘arch enemy’ this was not to be the end of Holmes as there was huge public pressure on Doyle to write more stories. Doyle finally gave in and wrote his final Sherlock Holmes novel ‘The adventure of Shoscombe Old place’ which was published in 1917. Holmes books were a classic example of detective fiction. In 1929 a writer called Monsignor Ronald Knox wrote ten rules, which he suggested a writer of detective fiction should follow. These rules were largely associated with the Sherlock Holmes novels, as all of his books followed the rules. An even greater example of this is rule nine where it states.
‘If a Watson is introduced…’ Watson being Holmes loyal friend and right hand man, thus meaning that these novels were a good example of detective fiction. Other rules included. ‘No more than one secret room or passage must be used.’ Which Doyle uses to great effect in the Speckled Band and The Red Headed league. Another rule states… ‘No new poisons are to be used…’ One may argue that the snake used to kill one of the sisters in the speckled band could be classed a new poison as the coroner didn’t know anything about the poison he in fact states that no poison was used.
Sherlock Holmes stories never start with Sherlock Holmes himself they nearly always start with his friend Dr James Watson, as they are written in a third person narrative. The novels always end with Holmes marvelling us by solving the crime identifying the criminal/criminals methods, which the reader and Watson have not clued on to. There are no foreigners of sinister or malignant aspect. Holmes never conceals clues or the reasons for his deductions from the reader.
Holmes has never committed the crime himself, although one may feel that Holmes thinks himself above the law, a good example of this takes place in the speckled band where Dr Grimsby dies because of Holmes actions. Holmes has never solved a crime by pure luck. Holmes may have amazing powers of deduction, but he is a human being just like the rest of us therefore, his crimes are solved by logical means, not by supernatural powers. These are all the rules made by Monsignor Ronald Knox who set out these ten rules which many believe are based around the Sherlock Holmes novels.
Holmes novels are all based around the London area mainly within the inner city, and the surrounding countryside, Holmes never ask for payment in anyway as he does it as a hobby more than a profession all he asks for is the fees for transport and accommodation. Holmes may look like a middle aged man with very little strength in him, yet he proves this wrong in the speckled man by bending a poker back into shape after Dr Grimsby Roylott a very large man bends in a twist of anger. Many feel that Holmes has no flaws at all. Yet Holmes shocks the reader with having an addiction to opium. This flaw actually comes in handy when a potential suspect he is following has been regularly visiting an opium den. Holmes can use his addiction to opium as an excuse to pursue his suspect. It is in fact Watson who finds Holmes there as the story starts with a twist, as Watson is in fact looking for another friend who was last seen in the opium den.
The characters in Sherlock Holmes novels are based mainly around Holmes himself. Watson is Holmes friends and loyal right hand man in many of his adventures. Watson is the friendly one of the duo; he is always left, like the readers, pondering Holmes assumptions. Watson is like a trusty hound and will follow Holmes into the greatest of perils. Which in turn enforces his friendship with Holmes. When Watson is not with Holmes he is at home with his wife. Being a doctor many people will come to Watson’s home to seek advice/help, this indeed is how ‘the man with a twisted lip’ begins with a wife turning up at Watson’s front door at 11o’clock at night looking for her husband who has been missing for several days, which subsequently leads Watson to Holmes in a scruffy opium den.