|The following is reprinted from The Best of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader.
Sherlock Holmes (R) and Dr. Watson (L), drawn by Sidney Paget
Sherlock Holmes is one of the most widely recognized characters in all of English literature. He isn't just a person, he's a cultural icon. His adventures are also some of our favorite reading. In his honor, we've done a little detective work and uncovered these facts.
THE DOCTOR IS IN
The year was 1877. Dr. Joseph Bell, a brilliant surgeon and lecturer at Scotland's prestigious Edinburgh University Medical School, was standing next to one of the hospital's patients. His students - including 18-year-old named Arthur Conan Doyle - stood around him as he motioned to the patient and systematically ticked off his first observation about the case. "You'll notice, gentlemen," Dr. Bell began, "that the man is clearly a left-handed cobbler."
How could Dr. Bell tell a man's occupation - and the fact that he was left-handed - from a single glance at someone he had never met before? Doyle and the rest of the students were amazed. And this wasn't the first time, either. Bell made these amazing deductions every time he examined patients in front of the class.
Dr. Bell continued with his observations, this time pointing to the man's pants. "Notice the worn places in the corduroy breeches, where a cobbler rests his lapstone."
It was the pants! Dr. Bell read the man's life story from a patch of worn corduroy. It was amazing, and Arthur Conan Doyle would never forget it.
FROM BAD TO VERSE
Nine years later, in 1886, Doctor Arthur Conan Doyle - who had put himself through medical school largely through the sale of short stories - turned again to writing to try to save his failing medical practice. He decided to write a detective story using Dr. Bell as a model. "I thought of my old teacher," Doyle later recalled, "and his eerie tricks of spotting details. If he were a detective, he would surely reduce this fascinating but unorganized business to something nearer to an exact science. It was surely possible in real life, so why should I not make it plausible in fiction? It is all very well to say that a man is clever, but the reader wants to see examples of it - such examples as Bell gave us every day in the (hospital) wards. The idea amused me."
THE NAME GAME
Originally, Doyle named his detective Sherrinford Holmes, after Oliver Wendell Holmes - and named Holmes's sidekick Ormand Sacker. But during the three weeks it took to write the story, Doyle renamed the characters Sherlock Holmes, after a cricket player he had once played against, and
|The article above is reprinted with permission from The Best of Uncle John's Bathroom Reader. Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!|
Tokyoflash Treasure Hunt - Win a Tokyoflash Watch of Your Choice!
Going on right now: Tokyoflash Treasure Hunt #26. Win a Tokyoflash watch and neat stuff from the NeatoShop. It's fun and easy to play: Link