Sherlock Holmes

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Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, who first appeared in publication in 1887. He is the creation of Scottish-born author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A brilliant London-based "consulting detective", Holmes is famous for his intellectual prowess, and is renowned for his skillful use of "deductive reasoning" while using abductive reasoning (inference to the best explanation) and astute observation to solve difficult cases.

The Canon

The entire Sherlock Holmes Canon is comprised of four sets of short stories, totalling fifty-six, as well as four full-length novels. In order of publication, the stories and their collections (which were not actually printed as collections until years later) run thus:

A Study in Scarlet - full-length novel, first published in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887.

The Sign of the Four - full-length novel, first published in Lippincott's Magazine in 1890.

The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes - published in the Strand Magazine starting in July 1891 and running until December 1893.

- A Scandal in Bohemia - The Red-Headed League - A Case of Identity - The Boscombe Valley Mystery - The Five Orange Pips - The Man with the Twisted Lip - The Blue Carbuncle - The Speckled Band - The Engineer's Thumb - The Noble Bachelor - The Beryl Coronet - The Copper Beeches

- Silver Blaze - The Cardboard Box - The Yellow Face - The Stockbroker's Clerk - The Gloria Scott - The Musgrave Ritual - The Reigate Squires - The Crooked Man - The Resident Patient - The Greek Interpreter - The Naval Treaty - The Final Problem

The Hound of the Baskervilles - full-length novel, published in the Strand Magazine from August 1901 to April 1902.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes - published in the Strand Magazine starting from October 1903 and running to December 1904.

- The Empty House - The Norwood Builder - The Dancing Men - The Solitary Cyclist - The Priory School - Black Peter - Charles Augustus Milverton - The Six Napoleons - The Three Students - The Golden Pince-Nez - The Missing Three-Quarter - The Abbey Grange - The Second Stain

The Valley of Fear - full-length novel, published in the Strand from September 1914 to May 1915.

His Last Bow - published in the Strand between the years of 1908 and 1917.

- Wisteria Lodge - The Bruce-Partington Plans - The Devil's Foot - The Red Circle - The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax - The Dying Detective - His Last Bow

The Case-book of Sherlock Holmes - published in the Strand between the years of 1921 and 1927.

- The Mazarin Stone - Thor Bridge - The Creeping Man - The Sussex Vampire - The Three Garridebs - The Illustrious Client - The Three Gables - The Blanched Soldier - The Lion's Mane - The Retired Colourman - The Veiled Lodger - Shoscombe Old Place


Below is a list of terms and their definitions that are used in this fan community.

Agent, The -- Fan name for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, also expressed as "the literary agent." The term derives from the playful fan contention that Dr. John Watson really did write all of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and Doyle merely served as his literary agent.

Game, The -- Also called "the great game." Fans of the Holmes stories are generally divided into two camps, those who "play the game" and those who do not. Players of the great game subscribe to the theory, with varying degrees of stubbornness, that Holmes and Watson really existed and all of their adventures actually happened.

Great Hiatus, The -- Fan nickname for the three-year silence between the publication of "The Final Problem" and "The Adventure of the Empty House," when Sherlock Holmes was believed to be dead.

Master, The -- Fan nickname for Sherlock Holmes.

Fan fiction policy and history

This section needs more information.

Gender-switching, oddly enough, seems to be popular in Sherlock Holmes fanficiton. Holmes and Watson have both been switched more than once.

Many fanfictions are also devoted to developing a romance between Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler.

A lot of fanfictions are used to expound on the many 'what-if's and 'what-did-that-mean's that the original stories have to offer.

The Fandom

The Sherlock Holmes fandom has largely remained seperate from other fan fiction communities because its history traces to the pastiche tradition. This community has some connection to the science fiction community which most of fandom traces its history to but that connection and influence has historically been little.

In the Sherlock Holmes community on January 31, 1941, there was a dinner meeting of the Baker Street Irregulars. According to the article, What is Slash?, the discussion involved "What if Watson was actually female?" The article says that some serious fiction actually resulted from this discussion. This conversation is thought to be one of the first gender switching discussions in modern fandom.

In 1951, The Sherlock Holmes Society of London was founded on the ashes of the Sherlock Holmes Literary Society. It had the same ideals as the previous incarnations.

Titled, rich, male, money to spend and an interest in Sherlock Holmes are some ways that the Sherlock Holmes community was characterized historically. This characterization carried into the 1970s. "Elementary Facts of Holmes Fandom" by Bob Cromie appeared in the Chicago Tribune on page 18 of January 12, 1972's edition. The Sherlock Holmes fandom of that time was characterized by Cromie as having been historically male, with male fen being offended when a female only branch of the Baker Street Irregulars was founded. The men in the article were described as semi-professional writers, obsessed with the works about Sherlock Holmes. The issues of female involvement, of women breaking down doors and trying to enter their space and being resentful of their intrusion, seems to be very characteristic of upper class issues dealing with gender at the time, where trophy wives were still in play and women were supposed to support their men.


Below is a partial timeline of events that took place in this fan community.


  • "Sherlockians called them parodies and pastiches (they still do), and the initial ones appeared within 10 years of the first Holmes 1887 novella, A Study in Scarlet. " [1]


  • "I'm pretty sure supporters of Joss Whedon's Firefly never took to the streets wearing black armbands, as the Sher-flock did when Holmes "died" in 1893." [2]






  • Signe Landon (later Signe Danler) publishes the first issue of Holmesian Federation, a fanzine devoted to crossover stories featuring Sherlock Holmes and various SF/fantasy universes, most notably that of Star Trek. Contributors to the issue included Dana Martin Batory, Ruth Berman, Frankie Jemison, Melanie Rawn, and Eileen Roy.

1980 to 1987

  • Issues #2 through #7 of Holmesian Federation appear. Though the majority of stories publish continue to feature Holmes interacting with the Star Trek universe, other crossover milieus include those of Doctor Who, Tolkien's Middle-Earth, Star Wars, and H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos. Among the writers contributing stories were John C. Bunnell, Debra Doyle, Brian Garner, Brad Keefauver, Marguerite Krause, Frank Ramirez, Tina Rhea, and Mary Frances Zambreno.

1982 to 1988

  • More fandoms were represented in fanzines. The following fandoms were represented in fanzines during this period: "ST, SW, Raiders of the Lost Ark, mixed media zines, Battlestar Galactica, S&H, Space: 1999, Dracula, SF, Doctor Who, westerns, The Questor Tapes, B7, Buck Rogers, Hill Street Blues, Darkover, Alias Smith and Jones, A-Team, Airwolf, Captain Scarlet, Dark Shadows, Greatest American Hero, Hardcastle & McCormick, Indiana Jones, Knight Rider, MASH, Magnum PI, Miami Vice, The Professionals, The Phoenix, Rat Patrol, Remington Steele, Riptide, Simon & Simon, Man from UNCLE, Wizards and Warriors, Wild, Wild West, Man from Atlantis, Superman, Sapphire & Steel, Tales of the Gold Monkey, TJ Hooker, Tomorrow People, Blade Runner, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Sherlock Holmes, Japanimation, the Chronicles of Amber, etc.“ (Langley)

1984 to 1988

  • Personal computers, aided by their word processing programs, started to have an impact on the publication of fanzines. They, along with the growth of coping services, led to a growth in the number of fanzines and created a situation where more fen could produce their own, high quality fanzines. (Langley)


  • The final issue of Holmesian Federation (#8) appears. In addition to stories by Dana Martin Batory, Brad Keefauver, Eileen Roy, and others, the issue features a lengthy crossover story by Tina Rhea featuring Holmes and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's vampiric hero, Count Saint-Germain. Yarbro, who had explicitly objected to the story's publication, sought legal redress from Rhea and editor Signe Danler; a settlement was eventually reached.


  • Between March and April, the RUSS-L mailing list was created as Mary Russell fans felt increasingly isolated in the greater Sherlock Holmes fan fiction community. ([4])






Ice Rocket Trend Tracker: Anita Blake, Young Wizards, Sherlock Holmes.

This section needs more information.



One of the problems with fan fiction history in general is that there can be a lack of credible citations to support what is commonly accepted knowledge. It is also a bit of challenge, even with those credible sources, to trust some things as people may have agendas in putting for a certain point of view. As such, this section contains some information that is of dubious origins as far as the credibility of the source but can go towards painting the picture of what was going on.

On by Sir Bob dated July 1, 2003 with a subject of "Re: Coolest Fantasy Villain":

I doubt it; IIRC, Sherlock Holmes fanfic saw print publication as early as
the 1930s, and there was an example or two of what could charitably be
termed erotica among it (though the stories in question would be considered
quite prim and proper by modern standards). I'm just restricting myself to
fandoms that remain popular today to avoid arguments about what really


In 1944, Ellery Queen published a collection of parodies and pastiches called "The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes" which included works by many famous authors, including Mark Twain, who had originally published his parody in 1902, (entitled "A Double-Barrelled Detective Story".) The book was fiercely suppressed by the Doyle estate, although a few copies did make it into circulation.

Influential Fanworks

This section needs more information.

Fandom Members

See also Category:Sherlock Holmes fans.

Fandom Size

See also Sherlock Holmes fan fiction community size.

External Links

Meta discussion

See also


Below is a partial list of articles and academic sources to help you continue to learn about this community.

  • Brown, Scott. "Scott Brown on Sherlock Holmes, Obsessed Nerds, and Fan Fiction." Wired 20 Apr. 2009. 28 Apr. 2009 <>.
  • Cromie, Bob. "Elementary Facts of Holmes Fandom." Chicago Tribune 12 Jan. 1972: 18.
  • Sir Bob. "Re: Coolest Fantasy Villain." 1 Jul 2003.

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