10 Interesting Facts About Sherlock Holmes You Probably Didn’t Know

No matter what you like or dislike about Sherlock Holmes, one thing we can agree on is this detective has become a world-famous legend. Holmes' popularity has shown no signs of slowing down since his debut in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1887 novel A Study in Scarlet.

That said, having been around for more than a century, you might be surprised there's a lot about this iconic character that you might not be aware of. So here are ten interesting facts about Sherlock Holmes you probably didn't know.

Contrary to popular belief, Sherlock Holmes doesn't use deductive reasoning

Many people assume Sherlock Holmes uses deductive reasoning to solve the mind boggling crimes he's faced with every day, while in fact, what he uses is abductive reasoning.

On the one hand, deductive reasoning starts with a general theory or hypothesis and tests different possibilities to prove the preconceived theory. But this is not what Sherlock Holmes does when he walks into a crime scene.

He has no pre-supposed ideas about what may have taken place.

Instead, he extrapolates information from what he observes in order to arrive at conclusions about what really happened—this is abductive reasoning.

Sherlock Holmes at crime scene

Sherlock Holmes has appeared in more movies than any other fictional character

Since the advent of cinema in the late nineteenth century, Sherlock Holmes's character has been featured in more than 250 on-screen productions. Now it seems every year there's a new film in the works.

The latest Holmes movies are Enola Holmes featuring Henry Cavill( released September 2020) and Sherlock Holmes 3 featuring Robert Downey Jr (with the release date set at late 2021).

Yet these two figures are only for TV productions(movies and TV series ) as we haven't taken into account all the hundreds of stage or radio plays and skits. 

Photo: British Period Drama

The Royal Society Of Chemistry Awarded Sherlock Holmes an Honorary Fellowship

Long before real detectives started using forensic evidence to solve crimes, Holmes used chemistry, bloodstains, ballistics, and fingerprints to catch offenders.

It's no surprise that Sherlock Holmes is the first and only fictional character to be awarded an honorary fellowship. In 2002, Britain's Royal Society of Chemistry honored the detective for his use of forensic science and analytical chemistry to solve crimes.

William Gillette truly defined the on-screen Sherlock Holmes

Gillette adapted Sherlock Holmes for the stage in 1899 and played Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective more than 1,000 times. He was the one who invented and popularised Holmes' curved tobacco pipe.

The story goes that a curved pipe allowed him to deliver his lines while still smoking. As to how many actors have officially played Sherlock Holmes's role since then: the answer to that is an astonishing 181!

Some of the notable ones include Basil Rathbone (English actor who played Holmes in 14 films between 1939 and 1946), Robert Downey Jr (from the upcoming movie Sherlock Holmes 3 film) and Benedict Cumberbatch( who plays the famous sleuth in the 21st century London on the BBC series Sherlock)

Photo: BBC

Sherlock has a higher IQ than Albert Einstein

In his book, Intelligence of Sherlock Holmes and Other Three-pipe Problems, British author John Radford used cases and stories to measure Sherlock's IQ. Radford concluded that Sherlock Holmes has an IQ of 190.

Considering Albert Einstein had an IQ of 160, Holmes can be regarded as a super genius.

221B Baker Street isn't a real address

Until the 1930s, the street numbers on London's infamous Baker Street only went as high as the number 85, and 221B was not at all a plausible address until the street was extended in 1930.

In 1932, a bank named Abbey National Building Society occupied a building at 219-229 Baker St. Soon, they employed a full-time secretary whose only work was to reply to fan mail addressed to Sherlock Holmes at 221B Baker St.

In 1990, the Sherlock Holmes Museum was granted the number 221B Baker Street by the City of Westminster, though physically, it resides between 237 and 241 Baker Street.

And for more than a decade, the two institutions battled on who should receive Sherlock Holmes fan mails, and this only ceased when Abbey National vacated their headquarters in Baker Street.

Image by Apsu09 via Wikipedia Common

Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes

Conan Doyle was so impressed by Dr. Joseph Bell, a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, who could diagnose patients' conditions by just looking at them, that he based Sherlock's skills of perception on him. He originally named the sleuth Sherrinford but changed his mind.

There were two well-known Nottingham cricketers called Sherwin and Shacklock that the author was a big fan of, so he decided to combine their names. However, a few years later, after writing Holmes stories, Doyle was tired of the detective and complained, 'it takes my mind from other things.'

In his 1893 short story "The Final Problem," Holmes falls to his death while fighting his archenemy, Professor Moriarty, over the Reichenbach Falls.

However, the public outcry was so great that Doyle was forced to resurrect the detective. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ultimately wrote 56 stories and four novels about Sherlock Holmes between 1887 and 1927.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle writing Sherlock Homes

 The deerstalker hat is never mentioned in the books

Many films of Holmes have the detective wearing a "deerstalker" hat. Even though the "deerstalker" hat Holmes wears is never actually mentioned in Doyle's short stories and novels, it has become a key part of Holmes' look.

The image of the detective in the famous cap actually came from illustrations that appeared with the short stories in Strand magazine in the late 1800s. And even then, he really only wore it while visiting the rural countryside during his investigations.

The origin of Holmes cocaine addiction

Doyle incorporated Sherlock Holmes' dependence on cocaine into several of his short stories and novels. However, in none of his writings does he offer an explanation as to when or why Holmes began to use cocaine.

The closest we come to an answer is his observation that the detective only used cocaine to dispel boredom when he had nothing to do. It's important to note that when Conan Doyle wrote these stories, cocaine was a new miracle drug used as a local anesthetic and nerve tonic.

However, as the dangers of cocaine became known, Doyle recognized that Holmes would have to change his ways and had Watson wean Holmes off his addiction.

 The Popular phrase "Elementary, my dear Watson" is made up

The phrase "Elementary, my dear Watson" doesn't actually appear in any Doyle books. The closest Holmes comes to saying the iconic quote is "Elementary," in The Crooked Man, "It was very superficial my dear Watson," in The Cardboard Box, and "Exactly, my dear Watson," in three different stories.

The first recorded use of this exact phrase is actually in a P. G. Wodehouse 1915 novel, Psmith, Journalist.

Final Thoughts

If you enjoyed reading this article and would love to read more of our iconic movie characters series, check out:

10 Surprising Facts About The Godfather Trilogy

8 Interesting Facts About James Bond


  • ME

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  • Vidisha Mishra

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  • Vidisha Mishra

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