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Arts & Culture

Sherlock Holmes Against Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes (left) is a literary character who turned out to be a fertile ground for inspiration beyond expectations. Despite author Arthur Conan Doyle's (right) determination to escape his "creature" and forge a wider literary work, he found himself trapped and overshadowed by the fictional detective who first appeared in the novel "A Study In Scarlet" published in 1887.
Courtesy of American Public Television
Sherlock Holmes (left) is a literary character who turned out to be a fertile ground for inspiration beyond expectations. Despite author Arthur Conan Doyle's (right) determination to escape his "creature" and forge a wider literary work, he found himself trapped and overshadowed by the fictional detective who first appeared in the novel "A Study In Scarlet" published in 1887.

Airs Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

An Author is Overshadowed by His Own Creation in Sherlock Holmes Against Conan Doyle

The prolific author who created one of literature’s most legendary characters soon found himself a victim of its popularity.

Arthur Conan Doyle was a prolific fantasy and science fiction writer in the late 19th to early 20th century, but none of his works were more beloved than those that featured Sherlock Holmes.

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“Sherlock Holmes Against Conan Doyle,” brings to light the struggle the writer had with trying to escape the mania caused by the public’s fascination with the character Sherlock Holmes.

Beginning with “A Study in Scarlet,” published in 1887, Doyle would write four novels and more than 50 short stories featuring Holmes and his sidekick, Dr. James Watson.

Frustrated with not having enough time to work on other genres, Doyle tried creative measures to reduce his publisher’s demand for more Holmes.

Arthur Conan Doyle statue, Portsmouth, N.H.
Courtesy of American Public Television
Arthur Conan Doyle statue, Portsmouth, N.H.
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He tried raising his asking price to such an absurd amount that they would have to refuse him, but to his surprise they were willing to pay those large sums.

Eventually, Doyle killed off Holmes in the short story “The Final Problem” in 1893. This reprieve would be short-lived, however, as public outcry forced him to write another Holmes novel in 1901.

Sherlock Holmes' shadow.
Courtesy of American Public Television
Sherlock Holmes' shadow.

Credits:

Acquired by American Public Television from Terranoa for syndication to public television stations nationwide. Produced by Gedeon Programmes. Directed by Emmanuelle Nobécourt.

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