The Historical Significance of Sherlock Holmes

TLDR Sherlock Holmes, a fictional character created by Arthur Conan Doyle, has had a profound impact on our perception of the late Victorian era. The stories featuring Holmes have shaped our understanding of the time period and continue to be a popular subject of study for historians.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character deeply rooted in history, with his stories shaping our perception of the late Victorian era and becoming a defining image of the time.
05:33 Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, was inspired by his experiences and the people he encountered, including Joseph Bell, a surgeon who served as the inspiration for the famous detective.
10:12 Conan Doyle's name on the cover of magazines added 100,000 readers, leading to his continued writing of Sherlock Holmes stories despite his initial desire to be done with the character.
15:00 Sherlock Holmes is seen as the first superhero because he is smarter and more knowledgeable than the police and conventional authorities, and he uses science to solve crimes.
20:15 Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are both upper middle class and exude a stereotypical Britishness or Englishness, with their meaty breakfasts and references to India and the British Empire.
24:54 Sherlock Holmes is seen as a guardian angel who can protect England from the threats and dangers of the outside world, including the risks of the British Empire and American influences, making him a fascinating source for historians to study the relationship between the metropolis and the imperial peripheries, the evolution of the relationship between Britain and America, and the build-up to the First World War.
29:45 The origin of the name Sherlock Holmes is debated, with theories suggesting it may have been derived from two Nottinghamshire cricketers or from Conan Doyle's own relatives and acquaintances, but what is clear is that the Sherlock Holmes formula became a popular and influential detective formula in Edwardian and early 20th century literature.
34:37 Conan Doyle's interest in sports, particularly cricket, and his achievement of getting the wicket of W.G. Grace, a famous English cricketer, is highlighted, along with his involvement in other activities such as bodybuilding and politics.
39:44 Conan Doyle's involvement in a campaign to free a man wrongfully convicted of theft and his interest in spiritualism are discussed as examples of his sensitivity to miscarriages of justice and his search for faith and hope in a secular age.
44:44 The discovery of the Piltdown Man, a supposed early hominid, and the subsequent fraud surrounding it, including the inclusion of a cricket bat made of elephant bones, is discussed as an example of people's willingness to believe in something despite obvious evidence to the contrary.
49:42 Moriarty's limited presence in the Holmes stories is discussed, along with the creation of the first Sherlock Holmes fan club and the influence of Padgett's illustrations on the character's iconic look.
54:24 The hosts discuss the possibility of doing a Sherlock Holmes walk and end the episode.
Categories: History

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