From Holmes to Sherlock
The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Iconby Mattias Boström
A talented Sherlock Holmes expert brings to life the history of one of the most enduring characters in literature, from the Victorian era to today.
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A talented Sherlock Holmes expert brings to life the history of one of the most enduring characters in literature, from the Victorian era to today.
Everyone knows Sherlock Holmes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created a unique literary character who has remained popular for over a century and is appreciated more than ever today. But what made this fictional character, dreamed up by a small-town English doctor in the 1880s, into such a lasting success?
In From Holmes to Sherlock, Swedish author and Sherlock Holmes expert Mattias Boström recreates the full story behind the legend for the first time. From a young Arthur Conan Doyle sitting in a Scottish lecture hall taking notes on his medical professor’s powers of observation to the pair of modern-day fans who brainstormed the idea behind the TV sensation Sherlock, from the publishing world’s first literary agent to the Georgian princess who showed up at the Conan Doyle estate and altered a legacy, the narrative follows the men and women who have created and perpetuated the myth. It includes tales of unexpected fortune, accidental romance, and inheritances gone awry and tells of the actors, writers, and readers who have transformed Sherlock Holmes from the gentleman amateur of the Victorian era to the odd genius of today. Told in fast-paced, novelistic prose, From Holmes to Sherlock is a singular celebration of the most famous detective in the world–a must-read for newcomers and experts alike.
“If you love Sherlock Holmes, you’ll love this book . . . Mattias Bostrom’s From Holmes to Sherlock is the best account of Baker Street mania ever written. Really . . . what Bostrom has accomplished supremely well is to relate, as his subtitle proclaims, ‘the story of the men and women who created an icon.’ In effect, he shows us how Sherlock Holmes enchanted the world.”—Michael Dirda, Washington Post
“Holmes and Watson set the template for later obsessions with fictional worlds and characters as autonomous entities, from The Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter and beyond . . . Sherlock Holmes launched modern fandom . . . Mattias Boström has provided a timely overview of the great detective’s actual genesis and multiple transformation as a mass cultural icon . . . A riveting tale involving brilliant artists, cunning criminals, eccentric characters and illuminating moments of tragedy and triumph . . . Boström has expertly unearthed entertaining instances of the sleuth’s diverse appearances in all media, throughout the world . . . [A] wonderfully entertaining history.”—Michael Saler, Wall Street Journal
“From Holmes to Sherlock celebrates the versatility of one of fiction’s most beloved characters . . . terrific . . . Mattias Boström has written a necessary addition to any Baker Street library.”—Steve Donoghue, Christian Science Monitor
“For Sherlock Holmes buffs, there’s a new book I imagine is indispensable . . . Boström’s achievement is staggering and endearingly gossipy. It’s like eating popcorn and you learn a whole lot of cool stuff along the way.”—Nicholas Meyer
“Mattias Boström has done the impossible—encapsulated the journey of Sherlock Holmes from international literary superstar to modern day television hero. Meticulous, charming and, best of all, adoring of the original.”—Lyndsay Faye, author of The Whole Art of Detection
“Just when you think you’ve read every great book about the history of Doyle and Holmes, Mattias Boström reveals startling new layers to the famous adventures of the greatest detective of all time. Written with skill, wit, and unmatched expertise, From Holmes to Sherlock is the new standard in the complete history of not only the original Doyle stories, but literally every adaptation, too.”—Ryan Britt, author of Luke Skywalker Can’t Read
“One of my favorite books of the year . . . you will enjoy Boström’s book enormously. It’s a delight to read, narrative history paced like a suspense novel . . . What I loved most about From Holmes to Sherlock is that you don’t have to be a Sherlock Holmes expert to enjoy it.”—Sarah Weinman, Crime Lady
“Boström provides a unique approach to the history of the Sherlock Holmes phenomenon that had me turning all 500 pages of this tome with interest.”—Steve Steinbock, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, 5 stars
“A breathtakingly comprehensive study of a literary phenomenon . . . Mattias Boström has given us an epic narrative that despite its length and sheer poundage in paperback is unputdownable. Bravo.”—Michael J. McCann, New York Journal of Books
“[A] delightful history . . . Enjoy the skillful presentation and remarkable range of research in this indispensable addition to our literature.”—Donald Pollock, Saturday Review of Literature
“As a longtime Sherlockian I wasn’t expecting to read anything new, but was pleased to learn a lot . . . [Boström’s] research is truly impressive.”—Richard Sveum, Saturday Review of Literature
“One-stop shopping for fans and anyone interested in how Holmes has grown and changed over time . . . From Holmes to Sherlock brims with insights and anecdotes.”—Dean Jobb, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
“A fascinating tale that brings together everything you thought you knew about Sherlock Holmes, and then some . . . both a work of deep scholarship and a disarmingly racy read.”―Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
“Boström, a Swedish master of Sherlockiana, whose writings during some thirty years of research is uncontestedly award-winning, reveals how each generation has a different slant, perhaps more nuanced, on the great detective.”—Decatur Daily
“Mattias Bostrom’s great overview of all things Sherlock is not simply a biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is a remarkable tour of Sherlock facts and myths, from Doyle’s original ideas to the latest TV series and fandom. Bostrom’s lively narration makes this hefty book feel just as fun as the original detective adventures. It is detailed but never boring, and is probably the only book over 200 pages that I have read in one sitting (do or do not try this at home).”—Politics and Prose
“Even the most assiduous Sherlockian can admit that the endless reinvention and lasting pop-cultural impact of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation was not necessarily elementary. As a study in Sherlock, the case of the big business of public frenzies, literary estates and endless adaptations finally gets solved.”—Globe & Mail (Toronto)
“Entertaining, enlightening . . . Each chapter is short, written in a punchy, eavesdropping style, so that even if you don’t know the protagonists, their battles, failures and successes read like mini-mysteries . . . The chapters here are like a bag of salted peanuts—you can’t stop at one.”—Winnipeg Free Press
“Conan Doyle’s building of the character has never been better told, and the peregrinations of the copyrights down through the years form virtually a novel in itself.”—Nick Murray, Financial Advisor, “Books of the Year 2017”
“[Boström] comes up with some intriguing and fresh details . . . The canon of critical and biographical material on Holmes and Doyle is massive, of course, but even so, this latest entry makes a significant contribution to our understanding of how a bloodhound called Sherlock took over the world.”—Don Crinklaw, Booklist (starred review)
“A spirited account of how Sherlock became a household name . . . Boström’s weaving of the Holmes story into the larger one of popular culture and the mass-entertainment industry is the best part of this very good book. For fans of literature, film history, and Conan Doyle alike, a fine complement to the best works of Sherlock-iana.”—Kirkus Reviews
“In brief, novelistic chapters, Boström supplies a well-researched, chronological approach to the history. To be enjoyed by Sherlockians everywhere, this title makes it clear that Holmes’s story is far from over.”—Library Journal
“Wonderfully readable . . . This book is a treat for fans and an education for all readers.”—Library Journal
“One of the most original and needed Sherlockian books to appear for some years . . . Probably the most interesting book on the world of Sherlockiana to emerge in the 21st century.”—Alistair Duncan, Doyleockian
“Boström’s important and entertaining book should be read by all Holmes fans.”—Randall Stock, Best of Sherlock, 2017 best books about Holmes & Conan Doyle
“A fascinating treatment of Doyle’s creation of Holmes and the way in which it became such a popular culture juggernaut, sometimes in spite of Doyle’s descendants.”—Max Allan Collins
“Boström has succeeded masterfully in doing something no one has hitherto dared try: telling the whole Sherlock Holmes ‘story.’ It is an extraordinary tale.”—Nicholas Utechin, editor of the Sherlock Holmes Journal, 1976-2006
“When next asked why you so love Sherlock Holmes, hand your interrogator a copy of this work.”—Steven Rothman, Baker Street Journal
“From Holmes to Sherlock is a book based on a simple but brilliant idea. He traces the growth in popularity of Sherlock Holmes from an early idea of a physician who hoped to be a writer to a worldwide phenomenon recognized by most of the planet. Not just for Sherlockians, rather it is intended for anyone who has wondered about Sherlock Holmes.”—Steven Rothman, editor of the Baker Street Journal
“Superb! I am deeply in awe of Mr Boström’s comprehensive research, his meticulous selection and his enticing presentation. Mattias Boström is one of a select group of really important Holmesian/Doylean scholars.”—Roger Johnson, editor of the Sherlock Holmes Journal, coauthor of the Sherlock Holmes Miscellany
“From Holmes to Sherlock will be one of the
four or five most important books among the scores of nonfiction volumes about Sherlock Holmes, and it’s easy and entertaining reading as well.”—Christopher Redmond, editor of Sherlockian.net
“Mattias Boström . . . [has] written a book about Sherlock Holmes that is head and shoulders above anything we’ve seen lately . . . Boström accomplishes a remarkable feat in 597 pages with a style and grace that leaves one nearly speechless.”—Timothy J. Johnson, Curator of Special Collections and Rare Books, E. W. McDiarmid Curator of the Sherlock Holmes Collections
“Jaw-dropping . . . Boström has done a phenomenal piece of work here.”—Timothy J. Johnson, Curator of Special Collections and Rare Books, E. W. McDiarmid Curator of the Sherlock Holmes Collections
“[A] unique, incredibly ambitious and wide-ranging volume . . . While it reads like a work of fiction, almost a literary mystery, it is a rich tapestry, filled with real-world heroes and villains . . . Boström puts it all together in a cohesive form that is never less than compelling . . . I can’t recommend this book highly enough, as it is likely the most important work connected to Sherlock Holmes published in 2017 and a must-read for anyone with an interest in the character, the history or the fandom surrounding him.”—Charles Prepolec, Canadian Holmes
“This book will become a new cornerstone of Sherlockian research . . . Every Sherlockian should own this book.”—Interesting Though Elementary
“This exhaustive study of the 130-year Sherlock Holmes phenomenon spans Arthur Conan Doyle’s earliest inspirations up to today’s two successful Holmes-inspired TV shows . . . It explores the world’s continuing fascination with fiction’s leading detective hero. The informal, accessible style of Gallagher’s translation makes for an easy, if lengthy, read.”—Publishers Weekly
“An astonishing new book . . . Very readable.”—Jacke Wilson, History of Literature podcast
“An examination of the history of Holmes as he rose from a quirky private enquiry agent in the pages of a magazine to become the cultural giant he is today. JB Recommends.”—JB Dickey, Seattle Mystery Bookshop newsletter
“[An] excellent book.”—Sherlock Holmes Society of London newsletter
“Well written and recommended.”—Peter E. Blau, Scuttlebutt newsletter
“What a fascinating story . . . From Holmes to Sherlock is neither too elementary nor advanced for anyone interested in the Holmes phenomenon.”—Baker Street Beat blog
“A thorough, enjoyable work on Sherlock Holmes quite unlike other studies of the character; it bursts with historical detail, maintains a brisk pace throughout, and furthers our understanding of how the Holmes we know came to be . . . I’ve never read a work of literary criticism that is such a page-turner. Sherlock Holmes fans will devour it, as will any reader interested in the journey of a character from literary phenomenon to cultural icon.”—Charles Perry, Mysterious Bookshop, New York, NY
“A thoroughly enjoyable read.”—Y Logs
“Among this summer’s forthcoming treats will be Mattias Boström’s much-anticipated From Holmes to Sherlock.”—Michael Dirda, Weekly Standard
“All you ever wanted to know about Sherlock Holmes . . . A superb piece of detailed scholarship, clearly a labor of love for the author and, most importantly of all, is as readable as a good thriller.”—Shots Magazine (UK)
“A must-read for any fans of Sherlock Holmes. Boström has written a comprehensive and fascinating history of one of the most popular fictional characters of all time. The book is rich in detail and engagingly told, and should not be missed by anyone who wants more information about the world’s greatest consulting detective.”—Irregular Reader Blog
“Entertaining and readable . . . In this nonfiction book that reads like a novel, Mattias succeeds in telling the whole story of cultural Sherlock Holmes . . . Highly recommended.”—Norwegian Explorers newsletter
“It is great, absolutely great . . . It’s a must-read book for Holmes fans, it really is . . . It’s the perfect complement story to the fact that we’re still talking about this character a hundred years later.”—Steve Donoghue
“[An] entertaining account.”—World Magazine
“This ambitious work charting the history of Sherlock Holmes and Sherlockiana in all of its guises is the most important book on the Sherlockian bookshelf in the past several years. Mattias’s research is impressive as is his breadth of knowledge. The book is far from a dry recitation of facts, dates and names, but instead reads almost as fiction and at times seems as compelling as any good mystery novel. If you have enjoyed any of the adaptations of Sherlock Holmes from the early pastiches to the modern-day Sherlock series you will find this book a page-turner. This has become a reference book, a recommended book and a book to dive into time and again.”—Mark Alberstat, editor of Canadian Holmes
“Bostrom does a marvelous job tracing Arthur Conan Doyle’s life and Holmes career then taking us on a roller coaster ride as Holmes’ popularity rose and fell across the years . . . I learned quite a bit from this work and am inspired to track down various interpretations mentioned here.”—Bob Greenberger, Goodreads
“The first of its kind, Mattias Boström’s From Holmes to Sherlock is the epic narrative of the men and women who transformed Sherlock Holmes from a mere fictional detective to an enduring icon for the ages.”—Illustrious Client of Indianapolis
“The sheer amount of research and detail in this book is mind boggling. I was constantly finding new things to know and aha moments were a dime a dozen . . . Instead of being textbook like, it is like a thriller . . . A brilliant book that will give a lot of pleasure and insight to any one remotely interested in Sherlock Holmes.”—Digital Amrit
“Amazing, thrilling, and all-inclusive.”—Nikbooklover’s Blog
“A truly remarkable book on Sherlock Holmes . . . Read it!”—Expressen (Sweden)
“A good storyteller . . . This is more exciting reading than many fiction novels. Because this is about feuds in the family, feuds between different publishing houses, the creative process, so many interesting issues . . . You don’t have to be a Sherlock Holmes fan to read it.”—Sveriges Television (Sweden)
A finalist for the Edgar Award for best critical/biographical work
One of the Washington Post’s 50 notable works of nonfiction in 2017
A Publishers Weekly Top 10 in Essays & Literary Criticism for fall 2017
Included in the Globe & Mail’s holiday gift guide
A finalist for the Agatha Award for best nonfiction
Twelve Tennison Road was a veritable writing factory. A relentless tapping could be heard through the open window. His twenty-three-year-old sister Connie had moved in with the family, and was certainly earning her keep. His plan was that his sister Lottie should also move down, that he could dictate to her while Connie typed away. That way, Conan Doyle would be able to double his productivity while resting both his hands and his eyes. Many of his author friends had worn themselves out and been struck with writers’ cramp of the hands.
Conan Doyle was busy planning the final Holmes stories when he received a letter from his mother. She was furious. He was not to kill off Sherlock Holmes under any circumstances. Instead, she provided him with the bones of another Holmes story for him to write, about a woman with a rather particular hair color.
His mother’s words won the day. He was even able to use the idea, which became the twelfth, concluding story, “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches.” He finished writing it over Christmas 1891.
While the detective may have escaped with his life intact, as far as Conan Doyle was concerned, this was farewell to Sherlock Holmes.