However, that's exactly what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did. He killed off one of the most popular characters in the literary world at the time. Thinking the deed was finally bringing an end to the object of his dislike, Doyle discovered that the public wasn't ready for Sherlock Holmes to disappear just yet.
Photo credit: Herbert Rose Barraud
If you can only name one 19th-century literary character, it’s probably Sherlock Holmes. The hugely popular detective wowed audiences with his insane adventures and superhuman powers of deduction. Some have even credited the imaginary investigator with bringing the art of forensics to real-world crime fighters. So what could possibly defeat the greatest detective who ever “lived?” His own creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
In an odd turn of events for a massively popular author, Doyle absolutely hated Holmes. In fact, it was the character’s popularity that fueled Doyle’s hatred. Desperate for money, a young Doyle wrote fiction to supplement his income, playing with topics like man-eating plants and mummies before finally finding an audience with his detective character, Sherlock Holmes. Despite immediate commercial success, Doyle regarded his work with Holmes as cheap and hacky and preferred instead to work with more historical subjects. The public only wanted Holmes, however, and Doyle found himself growing exhausted by the increasing workload and ever more resentful of the fictitious man whose reputation was overshadowing his own.
So he tried to kill him. In the short story “The Final Problem,” Doyle sent his legendary super-sleuth out in style, throwing both he and his nemesis, Professor Moriarty, over a waterfall. Doyle said the decision was an act of self-defense, claiming, “If I had not killed him, he would certainly have killed me.” Despite this passionate hatred, however, Doyle eventually gave in and brought Holmes back from his “faked death.” He continued writing stories he couldn’t stand for the rest of his life.
I, for one, am glad that Sherlock Holmes was brought back to life. I've always enjoyed the character very much, and find the stories about his cases fascinating and a good read. But what do I know?
Coffee out on the patio this morning. Happy 4TH everyone! Please be safe!