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Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Sherlock Holmes, Misogynist? Bunkum!

Victoria Hunter presents her problem

 A lot of ineffable twaddle has been written about Sherlock Holmes and women, and in two different directions.

On the one hand, there is the totally unsupported balderdash that he had romantic feelings and more for Mrs. Godfrey Norton.

Equally fallacious, however, is the good Watson’s assertion that he “disliked and distrusted the sex.” Testimonies to the contrary are numerous in the form of stories where he is protective of women without being condescending. Just ask Eugenia Ronder, the veiled lodger.

I call your attention particularly to Violet Hunter. Watson tells us that Holmes “manifested no further interest in her once she had ceased to be the centre of one of his problems . . .” Romantic interest, he means. But the text makes it clear that Miss Hunter is not just a piece of the puzzle to him. Consider:

  • Watson says that “he would always wind up by muttering that no sister of his should ever have accepted such a situation.” And, indeed, he appears to have a brotherly concern.  
  • “You seem to have acted all through this matter like a very brave and sensible girl, Miss Hunter,” Holmes says. High praise! The term “girl” is not dismissive here, as is quickly clear.
  • The praise continues. “Do you think that you could perform one more test? I should not ask it if I did not think you a quite exceptional woman.”
  • “You have done very well indeed!” Holmes tells Miss Hunter later.

“Disliked and distrusted”? Not remotely. Sherlock Holmes was hardly a feminist of any stripe, but he was no misogynist either.


  1. So true Dan. Holmes' reactions to women varied based on the case, the woman, how he saw her ability to respond to difficult events, etc.

    As you and I have discussed, he was complimentary towards Mary Morstan's resourcefulness and abilities, and even saw potential for her to become a part of their investigations, in a line that is too often ignored.

    Don't get me started on a Holmes/Adler romance. It's too early for a drink of bourbon.