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.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My Favorite Sherlock Holmes

The first incarnation in which we meet Holmes affects our view of him thereafter. Every generation has a different image in their head. Whether that Holmes comes from an actor's face or voice, or an illustrator's pen, your first Holmes is always, in some vital way, the one true to you.
This quote, which seems so timely in this Downey-Cumberbatch-Miller era, actually comes from "The Editor's Gas-Lamp" in the Summer 2008 issue of The Baker Street Journal. When I read it over the weekend, these words leaped out at me because they are so true in my case.

My first - and favorite - Sherlock Holmes was that of Arthur Conan Doyle and Sidney Paget. I read the Paget-illustrated stories long before I saw Holmes portrayed by an actor in a series of movies on late-night television. I remember the initial disappointment. Basil Rathbone was okay, even good, but that buffoon was not Watson! And where were the gaslights and the hansom cabs?

Only recently have I come to appreciate that Rathbone at times looks very much like the Paget illustrations. And I have to admit that when I have committed pastiches, the voice of Sherlock Holmes that I hear in my head sounds very much like a certain South African actor.

Many fine actors have played Holmes wonderfully, including Rathbone. But, as the BSJ editorial suggested, none of them quite matches up to the Holmes in my head.

Speaking of Basil Rathbone, that same BSJ issue has a truly fascinating article by Paul Singleton, "Hounded from Script to Screen," about the development of the script for Rathbone's Hound of the Baskervilles.

And the last article, by Rhoda Steel Kalt, includes a letter which Rathbone wrote to her in 1955. At the end of it, he asks to "be one of those few to remember me in your prayers as long as you live, & long after I am gone." How touching!


  1. I agree with your point about the original Holmes one encounters staying etched - and colouring all other Holmes depictions.

    I read Arthur Conan Doyle's stories in grade 7 and I remember the exhilarating scenes that I saw in front of my eyes - the thrill, the fear, the satisfaction at the end... Sidney Paget's Holmes is the only one I can 'see' as Sherlock Holmes even today, even thought Paget's Holmes is illustrated and not even a real man...

    I've watched Basil Rathbone, Jeremy Brett, Robert Downey Jr and Benedict Cumberbatch - but I've never felt that wonderful feeling which the original Holmes gives me.

    I guess, when we first read a good book, our mind creates a beautiful vision that we can't forget. We then start expecting the awesomeness of that vision in all the movies and TV shows we watch - but don't find it - because that vision we first saw was uniquely ours.

  2. It's incredible to me how many readers from India comment on our books. I have no idea why this should be so, but long may it continue!

  3. Interesting post, as usual, Dan. I agree about Basil Rathbone. One tends to see him in the mind's eye because he so closely resembles the Sidney Paget drawings.