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Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes

Author: Revati and SherlockExtra - Translator: Revati

Sherlockian Holmesian

Dr. Watson is the best (and only) friend of Sherlock Holmes, he is truly a faithful companion. Their friendship deepened gradually as they moved together and slowly got to know each other. So no wonder that the characterization the good doctor gives of the sleuth at the beginning of their acquaintenance in A Study in Scarlet is not exactly true. (We also have to take into consideration the fact that Conan Doyle began to write Sherlock’s adventures because he was bored, having few patients. When his hero became famous, he enriched the character of Holmes.)

Let’s see the points that Watson recorded about his friend. (The list is from A Study in Scarlet, and our notes are in brackets. Watson's original words are in firebrick colour.)


1. Knowledge of Literature - Nil. (Watson concluded it from the fact that the detective did not know Thomas Carlyle, whom he quoted. As we prove in the article, Holmes feels pretty much at home in literature, he likes it. He willingly cites from different works and collects old documents. He is especially fond of documents written in gothic letters.)

(In BBC Sherlock series the detective has a Goethe bust in his bedroom.)

Present for you - free BBC Sherlock bookmark: Sherlock Free Download

Sherlock Holmes and the literature

Article by Ted Friedman: Literary Skills of Sherlock Holmes
- Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Goethe and others

2. Philosophy - Nil. (This is not true either. He is often seen in a contemplative mood. Sometimes his philosophical musings help him solving mysteries. You can observe the contemplating Sherlock in The Naval Treaty. These are his thoughts of a rose:”There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as in religion.(…)It can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner. Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and its colour are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.”

In this same adventure says he the following about schools:”Lighthouses, my boy! Beacons of the future! Capsules, with hundreds of bright little seeds in each, out of which will spring the wiser, better England of the future.”)

3. Astronomy - Nil. (In The Greek Interpreter Watson mentions that they talked about „the causes of the change in the obliquity of the ecliptic” besides many other things. The ecliptic is the apparent path of the Sun on the celestial sphere, and is the basis for the ecliptic coordinate system. This shows that Holmes knew something about astronomy as well.)

4. Politics - Feeble. (We have to contradict the good doctor at this point. Holmes had to have a certain level of knowledge in politics and diplomacy. These are in a way parts of his profession. He worked for foreign governments several times, so he had to have a basic idea for being able to collect data. Politics and diplomacy are extremely delicate topics where it is very easy to make irretrievable mistakes if someone is uninformed. It is good to bear in mind too that when working abroad, Holmes represents Great Britain, and because of this he cannot make mistakes. His brother, Mycroft has an important position in the government and he can directly or indirectly help Sherlock by using his power.

In The Noble Bachelor the sleuth mentions:”It is always a joy to me to meet an American (…), for I am one of those who believe that the folly of a monarch and the blundering of a Minister in fargone years will not prevent our children from being some day citizens of the same worl-wide country under a flag which shall be a quartering of the Union Jack with the Stars and Stripes.” This remark proves that he follows the political events and has his own opinion on them.)

5. Botany - Variable. Well up in belladonna, opium, and poisons generally. Knows nothing of practical gardening.

6. Geology - Practical, but limited. Tells at a glance different soils from each other. After walks has shown me splashes upon his trousers, and told me by their colour and consistence in what part of London he had received them. (He also knows the streets of London as the palm of his hand.)

7. Chemistry - Profound.
- Recommended article: Sherlock Holmes and the chemistry

8. Anatomy - Accurate, but unsystematic.
Sherlock Holmes wrote two monographs to the Antrophological Journal on the distinctiveness of the human ears. His skill at differentiating ears help him solving the case of The Cardboard Box.

9. Sensational Literature - Immense. He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century. (In addition, he is familiar with detective stories of Émile Gaboriau (the creator of Monsieur Lecoq) and he knows Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin as well. Though his opinion is that he does a much more effective job than they. To have an up-to-date knowledge of crimes is a necessary part of his profession.)
- Recommended article: C Auguste Dupin

10. Plays the violin well. (Holmes is a music enthusiast. His favourite artist is the greatest French-Flemish composer of the reinassance, the genius Orlande de Lassus. He likes to study the life of great artists, for example that of Paganini.)
- Recommended article: The violin of Sherlock Holmes

11. Is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman. (And he is the master of baritsu, the Japanese art of self-defense.)

12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law.

The most common misconceptions about the great detective:

Misbeliefs about Sherlock Holmes

Sherlockian Holmesian

Keywords: Sherlock Holmes, limits, Dr. Watson, personal characterisation, ability
personality, personage, personal analysis, talent, John Watson, capacity,
characterization, feature, characteristic, original canon, Conan Doyle, features

Sherlockian Holmesian

If you want to get more acquainted with the personality of Sherlock Holmes
and with the misbeliefs surrounding him, please read these articles:

Sherlock Holmes

I believe in Sherlock Holmes

Common misbeliefs about Sherlock Holmes

Sherlockian Holmesian

Recommended site:

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Dr. Joseph Bell the real Sherlock Holmes

Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories

Sherlockian Holmesian

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson friendship

They were special to each other

The friendship of Sherlock Holmes and dr. Watson

Sherlockian Sherlock Site

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