Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is best known for being the author of Sherlock Holmes. Doyle’s birthday, May 22, is celebrated as Sherlock Holmes Day for fans of one of the most famous literary detectives of all time.
Doyle was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1859. While he wrote some short stories as a young adult, Doyle did not originally pursue a career as an author. He went to medical school and graduated with his bachelor’s in 1881 and earned his M.D. in 1885. One of Doyle’s professors, Dr. Joseph Bell, was a master of diagnostics and deduction. His observational prowess would provide inspiration for the character of Sherlock Holmes.
“A Study in Scarlet”, the first Sherlock Holmes story, was published in 1887. The adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were immediately popular with readers, but Doyle wasn’t passionate about the characters. He considered the Sherlock Holmes stories to have more popular “commercial” value compared to his other writing. He wanted to be regarded as a more “serious” author for the other novels, plays and poems he wrote.
Doyle continued to practice medicine, got married and had a family, all while pursuing a literary career. While he explored writing nonfiction and penned many pieces on spiritualism, it was Sherlock Holmes who would reign supreme. The last of Sherlock Holmes’s stories were published in 1927, and Doyle passed away in 1930.
As of 2023, all of the original Sherlock Holmes stories now exist within the public domain. This means that Sherlock Holmes himself, and any aspect of those stories, can legally be shared, performed, reused, repurposed or sampled without permission or cost.
Because of this, there are many famous adaptations of and works inspired by the famous consulting detective. You can check out many of these titles from the Yonkers Public Library! Here are a few books and movies you can pick up to celebrate Sherlock Holmes Day in your own way.
The titular character was the iconic kid detective for many young readers. With 29 novels published from 1963 to 2012, the character of Encyclopedia Brown draws inspiration from the sleuthing, mystery solving Sherlock Holmes.
A recently popular adaptation of Sherlock Holmes is played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Dr. Watson is played by Martin Freeman. Taking place in modern day London, this BBC series brings action-packed thrills to Conan’s timeless mysteries.
This YA adaptation follows Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson - the great-great-great-grandchildren of the iconic Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. The pair meet at boarding school, where they must join together to solve the murder of a fellow student. You can check out all four books in the series on Hoopla.