Welcome! Like the book of the same name, this blog is an eclectic collection of Sherlockian scribblings based on more than a half-century of reading Sherlock Holmes. Please add your own thoughts. You can also follow me on Twitter @DanAndriacco and on my Facebook fan page at Dan Andriacco Mysteries. You might also be interested in my Amazon Author Page. My books are also available at Barnes & Noble and in all main electronic formats including Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBooks for the iPad.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Quintessential Quote #57

"What you do in this world is a matter of no consequence. The question is, what can you make people believe that you have done."
-- Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet, Part II, Chapter VII, "The Conclusion"
A public relations pioneer named Edward Bernays, who was a nephew of Sigmund Freud and lived to be 103 years old, has been called 'The Father of Spin." But maybe he got the idea from Sherlock Holmes!

In this very first tale, Holmes is bitter that he does all the work and Scotland Yard gets all the credit. Later, he cheerfully tells the various inspectors that the work is its own reward and they can have the credit. But how do we know that? Because Watson tells us so in stories that Holmes allowed to be published! So methinks the gentleman doth protest too much.

When Holmes tells Senator J. Neal Gibson in "The Problem of Thor Bridge" that "I do not think that I am need of booming," it is because he has already been well boomed by the good Watson in dozens of stories.

What I am suggesting is that Holmes paid more attention to developing his reputation, and thereby his career, than it might seem if you take his words at face value. For all his grumblings about Watson's stories as romantic exaggerations, he never told him to stop. As a consequence, he becomes "the famous detective" in later stories, and characters often indicate they know him by reputation.

That reputation could have been even stronger, it seems to me, if he hadn't explained his deductions. Every time he did, Watson or someone else always said, "How absurdly simple!" or something along those lines.

What do you think -- was Sherlock Holmes, through Watson, a self-promoter?


  1. I think that Holmes was one of those people who had a gift that he HAD to follow, no matter if it made him money, or brought him recognition. He was going to be who he was, regardless. But, as he repeatedly shows us, he was no dummy. He doesn't seem to have gone out of his way to promote himself before Watson. As charming as he could be at times, he wasn't a "glad-hander." I believe him when he says "l'oeuvre, c'est tout," and I also believe that he was, for the most part, ok with letting the Yard take credit for his work--not because he didn't like getting the credit--but because he was shrewd enough to know that being self-effacing in that way would bring him more work...and enhance his reputation by word-of-mouth. The people he helped via the Yard knew very well who had done the real work, and they were bound to talk, after all. But when Watson showed up, Holmes got two things he really needed--someone to bolster his rather sizable ego, and someone to promote him. Most of us writers (and artists, musicians, etc) can relate, I think. We feel bound to write, no matter what happens to our work...but we wouldn't say no to praise, appreciation, or better sales. And while many of us shudder at promoting ourselves....we have no problem with some good PR.

  2. Oh, and it's me, Leah Guinn...I can never get Blogspot to accept my wordpress id