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From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon

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Everyone knows Sherlock Holmes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created a unique literary character who has remained popular for over a century and is appreciated more than ever today. But what made this fictional character, dreamed up by a small-town English doctor in the 1880s, into such a lasting success, despite the author’s own attempt to escape his invention? In From Holmes to Everyone knows Sherlock Holmes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created a unique literary character who has remained popular for over a century and is appreciated more than ever today. But what made this fictional character, dreamed up by a small-town English doctor in the 1880s, into such a lasting success, despite the author’s own attempt to escape his invention? In From Holmes to Sherlock, Swedish author and Sherlock Holmes expert Mattias Boström recreates the full story behind the legend for the first time. From a young Arthur Conan Doyle sitting in a Scottish lecture hall taking notes on his medical professor’s powers of observation to the pair of modern-day fans who brainstormed the idea behind the TV sensation Sherlock, from the publishing world’s first literary agent to the Georgian princess who showed up at the Conan Doyle estate and altered a legacy, the narrative follows the men and women who have created and perpetuated the myth. It includes tales of unexpected fortune, accidental romance, and inheritances gone awry, and tells of the actors, writers, readers, and other players who have transformed Sherlock Holmes from the gentleman amateur of the Victorian era to the odd genius of today. Told in fast-paced, novelistic prose, From Holmes to Sherlock is a singular celebration of the most famous detective in the world—a must-read for newcomers and experts alike.


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Everyone knows Sherlock Holmes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created a unique literary character who has remained popular for over a century and is appreciated more than ever today. But what made this fictional character, dreamed up by a small-town English doctor in the 1880s, into such a lasting success, despite the author’s own attempt to escape his invention? In From Holmes to Everyone knows Sherlock Holmes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created a unique literary character who has remained popular for over a century and is appreciated more than ever today. But what made this fictional character, dreamed up by a small-town English doctor in the 1880s, into such a lasting success, despite the author’s own attempt to escape his invention? In From Holmes to Sherlock, Swedish author and Sherlock Holmes expert Mattias Boström recreates the full story behind the legend for the first time. From a young Arthur Conan Doyle sitting in a Scottish lecture hall taking notes on his medical professor’s powers of observation to the pair of modern-day fans who brainstormed the idea behind the TV sensation Sherlock, from the publishing world’s first literary agent to the Georgian princess who showed up at the Conan Doyle estate and altered a legacy, the narrative follows the men and women who have created and perpetuated the myth. It includes tales of unexpected fortune, accidental romance, and inheritances gone awry, and tells of the actors, writers, readers, and other players who have transformed Sherlock Holmes from the gentleman amateur of the Victorian era to the odd genius of today. Told in fast-paced, novelistic prose, From Holmes to Sherlock is a singular celebration of the most famous detective in the world—a must-read for newcomers and experts alike.

30 review for From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon by Mattias Boström ( Michael Gallagher-translator)- is a 2017 Mysterious Press publication. An extensive look at the many incarnations of Sherlock Holmes- from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s conception of the master detective- to his transformation into a major, enduring, and popular franchise! This book is an almost encyclopedic exploration of the Sherlock Holmes enterprise. To be honest, it never really occurred to me to des From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon by Mattias Boström ( Michael Gallagher-translator)- is a 2017 Mysterious Press publication. An extensive look at the many incarnations of Sherlock Holmes- from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s conception of the master detective- to his transformation into a major, enduring, and popular franchise! This book is an almost encyclopedic exploration of the Sherlock Holmes enterprise. To be honest, it never really occurred to me to describe Sherlock Holmes as a ‘brand’, or franchise-but over a century after the public was first introduced to the observant detective, he has become a very profitable Icon. In fact, Sherlock Holmes has been adapted more than any other fictional character. Ronald B. De Waal’s four-volume ‘Universal Sherlock Holmes, lists 25,000 Holmes related products and adaptations- however, the number is probably much higher than that. This book takes readers on a fascinating journey, beginning with how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle first got the idea for the great detective, to how Holmes & Watson not only survived, but flourished, for over a hundred years, to bring us the mega-popular modern movie and television adaptations we enjoy today. While I think I probably knew more about Doyle than his famous detective, I have enjoyed the original Sherlock Holmes stories over the years, although I have not read them all. I’ve seen various film adaptations, new and old, as well a television series here and there. I have a beautiful volume of the complete stories of Sherlock Holmes I was gifted for Christmas one year, and it is prominently featured on my bookshelf. But, that’s about as far as my devotion to Holmes and Watson goes. I’ve always been entertained by the series and find it enjoyable, and I certainly respect the massive influence this detective series has had on crime fiction overall. However, I am simply not cut out to limit myself to the concentrated study of one character, or series. However, I am glad there are purists out there who have, and I’m happy that many others took the classic versions and embellished them to keep the great detective alive and relevant over the years. The author did a great job with the organization of this book. The presentation is very impressive, especially when one considers the magnitude of information and material the author had to comb through and research. In the same way the popularity of the franchise waxed and waned over the years, there are spots in this book that are not as exciting. It also felt overwhelming at times, and occasionally I was tempted to skip ahead to more interesting material. Despite the occasional lull, this is an incredible look at how the Sherlock series has been marketed and monetized, and how the fascination with Sherlock Holmes grew from small private club enthusiasts, to such wide mainstream popularity, becoming a pop culture fixture. As of today, there are comic strips, graphic novels, animated series, internet, computer and video games, magazines, children’s books, radio, television, and movie adaptations, as well as countless pastiches. It’s really mind-boggling when you think about it. Even aficionados will find in this comprehensive history of Sherlock Holmes, an incredible, exhaustive amount of information, all in one place, which might be helpful for reference purposes. Overall, I am far more impressed with the Sherlock Holmes legend now, and of course, this book has put me in the mood to read more Sherlock Holmes classic stories, and to explore some of the many pastiches out there. Despite the intimidating heft of this book, it is one that all fans of Sherlock Holmes should at least browse through, whether you consider yourself a Sherlockian or more of a casual admirer. Also, fans of history, pop-culture and crime fiction will find many interesting facts and trivia in this book. It is certainly an educational read, and for the most part was pretty entertaining as well. I had a lot of fun Googling names and information about the Baker Street irregulars and the biography written about Doyle by John Dickson Carr, as well as the legal battles for public domain status. I'm also very interested in the mashups, which sound like a lot of good campy fun!! 4 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Charles Prepolec

    So you’ve read all the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. You’ve enjoyed the vintage art of Sidney Paget and Frederic Dorr Steele that helped shape the image of Sherlock Holmes. You’ve watched Basil Rathbone in 14 films and maybe heard some of the radio plays written and produced by Edith Meiser. You’ve watched all the television episodes featuring Ronald Howard, Douglas Wilmer, Peter Cushing, Jeremy Brett, Benedict Cumberbatch or Jonny Lee Miller. You were astounded when the long th So you’ve read all the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. You’ve enjoyed the vintage art of Sidney Paget and Frederic Dorr Steele that helped shape the image of Sherlock Holmes. You’ve watched Basil Rathbone in 14 films and maybe heard some of the radio plays written and produced by Edith Meiser. You’ve watched all the television episodes featuring Ronald Howard, Douglas Wilmer, Peter Cushing, Jeremy Brett, Benedict Cumberbatch or Jonny Lee Miller. You were astounded when the long thought lost 1916 film ‘Sherlock Holmes’ with William Gillette was rediscovered and released to DVD a couple years ago. You may have read biographies of Arthur Conan Doyle, touching on his inspiration for Holmes via Joseph Bell, or his investigation of real life crimes, or guides to the actors who have played Holmes, or perhaps some of the beautifully illustrated surveys detailing art and artifacts associated with Sherlock Holmes. You may have heard about the Baker Street Irregulars and the role of Vincent Starrett, Christopher Morley and others in their establishment, read their publication The Baker Street Journal, the involvement of Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, or know something about the squabbles between Doyle’s heirs and the BSI, or that the BSI didn’t allow women members until 1991. You may be a member of a local Sherlock Holmes scion society or book club. You’ve probably read any number of published pastiches including Ellery Queen’s The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes or Nick Meyer’s game changing The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Mitch Cullin’s A Slight Trick of the Mind, or more recent anthologies by Laurie King and Les Klinger, the last of which resulted in a huge public court case firmly putting the character (if not all the stories) of Sherlock Holmes in the public domain. You may have listened to podcasts by the Baker Street Babes celebrating the remarkable international success of the BBC’s Sherlock, or attended one of the conventions, all of which have contributed to a global popularity, shift and resurgence in one of the oldest fandoms ever encountered. Hell, you are probably even familiar with the ubiquitous tent joke. Or maybe you’ve not read or seen any of it and just have some vague curiosity about Sherlock Holmes? In any event, what you’re probably wondering is how can I see the ‘big picture’? How does it all fit together? How does a simple detective character, created in 1887, manage to stay in the public eye and be a pop culture sensation, taking the world by storm, some 130 years later? Mattias Boström’s unique, incredibly ambitious and wide ranging volume ‘From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon’ aims to answer that question. This isn’t a straight-up history, nor is it a biography of any one individual, instead it is an examination of the entire Sherlock Holmes phenomenon; tracing the steps from inception in the mind of Arthur Conan Doyle right through to the people and events that shaped the latest film and television extravaganzas, all presented in a chronological narrative form. The book is exactly what it claims to be in the subtitle, it is literally ‘The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon.’ By utilizing the narrative story form, rather than a dry historical format, Boström makes the reader part of the events as they unfold and gives us a better sense of the key players as what they are, or were; real live human beings with all the foibles, quirks and flaws that implies. While it reads like a work of fiction, almost a literary mystery, it is a rich tapestry, filled with real-world heroes and villains, and Boström, using a wealth of facts as foundation (Boström and Matt Laffey have been exhaustively researching newspaper archives for mentions of Holmes and Conan Doyle for a series of books, currently up to three volumes, called ‘Sherlock Holmes and Conan Doyle in the Newspapers’, published by Wessex Press), extrapolates and provides us with scenes that make us privy to the thoughts and motivations behind their actions. The chatty, almost gossipy style, is engaging, almost deceptively masking the wealth of information the reader is being handed, but never loses the thread of the story at its heart. While you will meet an almost bewildering array of people and cover 130 years worth of events, vignettes, tales of greed and heartbreak, Boström puts it all together in a cohesive form that is never less than compelling and will have you turning pages at the pace of a Dan Brown thriller. Whether you’re familiar with the elements of the history of Sherlock Holmes in print and media, or a complete newcomer, I guarantee you’ll learn something new in this monumental work that explores the ‘big picture’ of the Sherlock Holmes phenomenon and how it came to be. Bottom line: I cannot recommend this highly enough, as ‘From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon’ is likely the most important work connected to Sherlock Holmes to be published in 2017 and a must-read for anyone with an interest in the character, the history or the fandom surrounding him. Note: Review based on an uncorrected proof provided on January 7, 2017. As such no remarks regarding typos (there aren't many) or irregularities in style (this work has been translated from Swedish) have been noted in this review as they may be corrected before publication.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sandra (LadyGrey Reads)

    2016 Book Awards (more information about these awards on my blog) The perfect book for any person interested in Sherlock Holmes and/or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I first got into Sherlock Holmes through fanfiction. Not written fanfiction about Sherlock Holmes; I was researching fanfiction for a small uni paper and Sherlock Holmes came up. When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle decided to *spoilers* kill his detective, the public went crazy and came up with all sorts of theories and ideas as to how he could h 2016 Book Awards (more information about these awards on my blog) The perfect book for any person interested in Sherlock Holmes and/or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I first got into Sherlock Holmes through fanfiction. Not written fanfiction about Sherlock Holmes; I was researching fanfiction for a small uni paper and Sherlock Holmes came up. When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle decided to *spoilers* kill his detective, the public went crazy and came up with all sorts of theories and ideas as to how he could have survived the Reichenbach Fall (sound familiar?). Then I started watching some of the movies and the Moffat&Gatiss tv-show (which is brilliant beyond imagining) and read some of the short stories. And that's the road I'm continuing on with this one! Now this book is written in an incredibly interesting and captivating way. It's not like with most thick biography-like books where you feel like you can sort of skip a few lines and still get the picture - I actually tried to do that with this book on several instances and found that it was impossible. The text just draws you in and keeps you there - and you learn a heck of a lot about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his family and the phenomenon that they created. However there are a lot of years to keep track of and as it is so full of details it can be a bit boring from time to time when the story moves to a part of the writer's life or his family's life that isn't all that relevant - at least not if you're not reading this for research. If you do then this is perfect!

  4. 5 out of 5

    CrazyUnicorn

    Firstly this book is really good. The author has done a splendid job on it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It starts with a trainride. The book starts with telling the story about how 2 men( Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss) came up with the idea about how to bring Sherlock into modern times. Ok so this book is a biography about both Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. It takes us from Sherlocks beginnings and towards the awesome tvseries Sherlock. It is a really interesting read if you're a Firstly this book is really good. The author has done a splendid job on it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It starts with a trainride. The book starts with telling the story about how 2 men( Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss) came up with the idea about how to bring Sherlock into modern times. Ok so this book is a biography about both Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. It takes us from Sherlocks beginnings and towards the awesome tvseries Sherlock. It is a really interesting read if you're a Sherlock Holmes fan like me, or if you just want to know more about one of literatures greatest characters. I received a ARC of this book in exchange for a honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    The game is afoot and we are taken into the lives of Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes in this chock full of information guide to their lives (Sherlock Holmes was real, wasn't he?). And what a joy it is. The author has done some fine research on the beginnings of the Homes saga through the latest iteration of the character through television. The beginning of the book covers the life of Conan Doyle and how he decided to give up his medical practice and become an author. Little did he know that he w The game is afoot and we are taken into the lives of Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes in this chock full of information guide to their lives (Sherlock Holmes was real, wasn't he?). And what a joy it is. The author has done some fine research on the beginnings of the Homes saga through the latest iteration of the character through television. The beginning of the book covers the life of Conan Doyle and how he decided to give up his medical practice and become an author. Little did he know that he was developing an iconic character who would continue to hold the attention of world readers through the present day. Since this is really not a biography of Conan Doyle, the book moves quickly to the life of the books/short stories/plays/radio programs/ film and how the stories were developed, marketed, and eventually disliked by their author. As readers of Holmes books know, Conan Doyle tried to kill off Holmes which caused such public outrage that the character had to be brought back to life in a rather unconvincing way (IMHO). After the death of Conan Doyle, the problems began as his heirs did not seem capable of protecting the copyrights and other legal matters concerning the use of the name Sherlock Holmes or the pastiches/parodies written about him. The latter half of the book goes into minute detail about the legal wrangling that took years to solve and this caused it to lose a rating star from me. It was confusing and terribly dry and slowed the book down to a crawl. But the first 3/4 of the book were enough to put it on the top of any Sherlockian (or Holmesian, if you prefer) list of must reads.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Roberta

    Sometimes I will be reading reviews and see a 1 or 2-star rating on a book that has won an award and I'll wonder how the reviewer could possibly give a low rating to an award winning book. How could he swim against the tide that way? A team of judges had decided that the book was in some way superior to other books of its type so how could this reviewer have formed any other opinion? Now I know. The first thing I noticed was that this book is lacking a table of contents. Whose idea was it to des Sometimes I will be reading reviews and see a 1 or 2-star rating on a book that has won an award and I'll wonder how the reviewer could possibly give a low rating to an award winning book. How could he swim against the tide that way? A team of judges had decided that the book was in some way superior to other books of its type so how could this reviewer have formed any other opinion? Now I know. The first thing I noticed was that this book is lacking a table of contents. Whose idea was it to design a non-fiction book without a table of contents? I found it annoying that so many chapters started as if that chapter were the beginning of an entirely different book, leaving the reader to flounder around over and over again getting oriented to the start of a new story. And each incident was presented like a story -- as if the author had been a fly on the wall across time and space. Not that the author skimped on his research, there were copious end notes, but when a character had a specific thought or private conversation, I could't help thinking that much of it had been fabricated for the sake of the story. A goodly chunk of the book is taken up by a rose-colored biography of Arthur Conan Doyle. This chunk is either too long or too short. While Conan Doyle was the creator of the great detective and the man who started it all, considering that the book is attempting to cover the entire Sherlock Holmes phenomenon, there are an awful lot of pages covering just the first era. On the other hand, that section was too short to offer a true full-length biography like The Adventures of Arthur Conan Doyle: A Biography or Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle. page 125 "One summer day in 1903, an Englishman named Robert King arrived in the little village of Deerfield, Massachusetts." Mr. King was a model for book illustrations. But why was he in Deerfield? On the next page, it says that the artist lived in New Jersey and Deerfield is not mentioned again. Where was the editor? I'm afraid that the book is full of fact plops and I will be asking that question a lot. [I just got to the "Author's Thanks" at the end of the book and realize now that I should have known who had edited the book. Sorry, it doesn't change my opinion about the editing.] There are 8 glossy pages of small photographs in the middle of the book. I would have settled for just nice non-glossy pages if there had been a few more of them, maybe a little bigger, and they had been distributed thru the book with the relevant text pages. page 472 "When accessibility to computers and the Internet rose in the late 1990s and early 2000s, most of these fan activities ended up online." When I started posting fan web pages in 1997 it was already starting to feel old hat and I remember a lot of fan fiction online much earlier than that. Conan Doyle takes up a disproportionately large section of the index. Of course, when making an index, choices must be made but, while many terms and geographical locations in the book were not indexed, every nuance of Conan Doyle's life and activities was covered. I generally use the "Look inside" feature on Amazon to make up for a poor index but, in this case, Amazon let me down too because there appears to be no search box available for this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shawn

    A truly fascinating book that explores how Sherlock Holmes came to be and how the character has changed over time. I loved reading about all the post-Conan Doyle influences, but I did feel that in places the book got a little bogged down by details. I enjoyed reading about how Conan Doyle’s heirs impacted the trajectory of his most famous character, but I could have maybe used just a touch less detail about some of the mistakes the Conan Doyle sons made, for example. Suffice it to say, they made A truly fascinating book that explores how Sherlock Holmes came to be and how the character has changed over time. I loved reading about all the post-Conan Doyle influences, but I did feel that in places the book got a little bogged down by details. I enjoyed reading about how Conan Doyle’s heirs impacted the trajectory of his most famous character, but I could have maybe used just a touch less detail about some of the mistakes the Conan Doyle sons made, for example. Suffice it to say, they made a lot! But overall I loved learning about how the different artists, authors, actors, and so on impacted the world’s most famous detective and shaped him into the (many) characters we know and love today. My guess is that anyone with even a passing interest in Sherlock Holmes would enjoy reading this book to see how he really came to be.

  8. 4 out of 5

    kartik narayanan

    Read the full review at my blog https://wp.me/p89tYT-9L Sherlock Holmes is the most popular fictional character of all time. What is the book about? “From Holmes to Sherlock” is written by Mattias Bostrom, a Holmesian (or a Sherlockian) and is translated by Michael Gallagher. “From Holmes to Sherlock” is a book that reveals the story behind the character ‘Sherlock Holmes’ – the inspiration, the creation and the evolution over the last 130 years or so. We get to hear the stories of the people involv Read the full review at my blog https://wp.me/p89tYT-9L Sherlock Holmes is the most popular fictional character of all time. What is the book about? “From Holmes to Sherlock” is written by Mattias Bostrom, a Holmesian (or a Sherlockian) and is translated by Michael Gallagher. “From Holmes to Sherlock” is a book that reveals the story behind the character ‘Sherlock Holmes’ – the inspiration, the creation and the evolution over the last 130 years or so. We get to hear the stories of the people involved, their lives and death, motivations, feuds and collaboration. Read the full review at my blog https://wp.me/p89tYT-9L

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bonnye Reed

    GNab I received a free electronic copy of this work from Netgalley, Mattias Bostrom, and Grove Atlantic - Mysterious Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. This history of the evolution of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson from conception in the late nineteenth century through the films and television serials of the twenty-first is extraordinary. At times it seemed extremely long, but I can't imagine anything that could be cut without harming the GNab I received a free electronic copy of this work from Netgalley, Mattias Bostrom, and Grove Atlantic - Mysterious Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. This history of the evolution of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson from conception in the late nineteenth century through the films and television serials of the twenty-first is extraordinary. At times it seemed extremely long, but I can't imagine anything that could be cut without harming the whole. And it is whole. All of the parties tasked with continuing the stories of Holmes and Watson, with interpreting the original stories into new mediums, with holding the essence of Doyle's vision, have worked these many decades to maintain the course true. Holmes and Watson were the first fictional characters to outpace their author in name recognition and general acceptance. They are still recognized around the world and continue to be mistaken for persons living and breathing. Fans young and old still find their stories in whatever medium available to be challenging and deeply interesting. pub date Aug 8, 2017 Grove Atlantic, Mysterious Press

  10. 5 out of 5

    C B

    Tried my damnedest, but gave up around the half-way mark. The subject matter is very interesting to me, but I can't stand this kind of non-fiction writing that presents long-ago events the writer was not privy to as if it were a novel. I don't like that kind of thing at its best, but when it's written as it is here, where these passages are rarely anything more significant than someone arriving at a dinner party or looking at a landscape, it is nothing more than a distraction from the actual con Tried my damnedest, but gave up around the half-way mark. The subject matter is very interesting to me, but I can't stand this kind of non-fiction writing that presents long-ago events the writer was not privy to as if it were a novel. I don't like that kind of thing at its best, but when it's written as it is here, where these passages are rarely anything more significant than someone arriving at a dinner party or looking at a landscape, it is nothing more than a distraction from the actual content: it drives me right out of the book rather than drawing me in (though the latter is what I assume it's intended to do). Especially galling to devote so much space to that nonsense when it won't even provide some basic details, such as the name of the tantrum-prone director of the first Rathbone/Bruce film or that film's romantic leads who got top billing over Holmes & Watson (Sidney Lanfield, Richard Greene, Wendy Barrie - I shouldn't have to pull up IMDb to do the author's work for him, especially in a 500 page tome that's already overlong). I'm not interested enough in Robert Downey Jr or Benedict Cumberbatch to subject myself to another 250-odd pages.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    I confess I'm not a great fan of Sherlock Holmes. I do appreciate Conan Doyle's stories and novels, but the movie versions and re-imaginings leave me pretty cold. Thus, I particularly enjoyed the first third which charts Doyle's career with Holmes--including his fruitless attempt to kill him off. It made me appreciate the man and his character far more than I had. The middle 1/2 I could have done without. All the movie versions, the various pastiches, etc. etc. etc. As I said, not a fan of the m I confess I'm not a great fan of Sherlock Holmes. I do appreciate Conan Doyle's stories and novels, but the movie versions and re-imaginings leave me pretty cold. Thus, I particularly enjoyed the first third which charts Doyle's career with Holmes--including his fruitless attempt to kill him off. It made me appreciate the man and his character far more than I had. The middle 1/2 I could have done without. All the movie versions, the various pastiches, etc. etc. etc. As I said, not a fan of the movie versions, not a fan of the many, many books that provide Holmes with new cases or continue his life into old age. The last 1/6 recounts the more recent versions and the copyright battles. It's a comprehensive look at the Holmes canon, and anyone interested in the character in all his manifestations will find this a perfectly delightful read or listen. It's filled with fascinating facts/trivia, it documents a wide range of print and media versions (including the politics of what gets made and published), it lays out Conan Doyle's life--his family, influences, career. Nicely done.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jacqui

    Bostrom and Gallagher's From Holmes to Sherlock (Mysterious Press 2017) is a thorough and detailed account of the life and adventures of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his iconic detective, Sherlock Holmes. In fact, at 608 pages, it is one of the longest biographies not about scientists or historic figures I've ever read. Besides being a fascinating account of Doyle's creation of the character many swore was alive, it is also a fascinating exploration of publishing and a writers life in the late 180 Bostrom and Gallagher's From Holmes to Sherlock (Mysterious Press 2017) is a thorough and detailed account of the life and adventures of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his iconic detective, Sherlock Holmes. In fact, at 608 pages, it is one of the longest biographies not about scientists or historic figures I've ever read. Besides being a fascinating account of Doyle's creation of the character many swore was alive, it is also a fascinating exploration of publishing and a writers life in the late 1800s-early 1900s. A few interesting details that caught my attention: "Most of Conan Doyle’s stories followed a defined template. Usually they began with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson each sitting in an easy chair in the flat at 221b Baker Street. A client would arrive and be received by the landlady, Mrs. Hudson. Sherlock Holmes would make quick deductions after observing small details about the person in question—something about his or her clothes, hands, or posture. Watson and the client would be astounded by his perceptive capacity, but only until he explained to them just how simple it had been to arrive at that conclusion. The client would then present his or her case, which was often a sequence of events so odd, or else seemingly insignificant, that the police would simply have laughed at it." Doyle invented Sherlock Holmes through short stories. Doyle wrote at a blistering place. He could write one story in just a few weeks. Doyle was a successful ophthalmologist before and during his writing career. As the Holmes franchise (not really a word they used back then, but it applies) grew, Doyle planned to kill off the consulting detective so he could concentrate on both his doctor career and on other characters. He didn't though because his mother prevailed upon him to keep Holmes alive. He did eventually do away with him several times in the fictional character's long and storied career:   "Almost ten years had passed since Conan Doyle had killed off Holmes. He was of the opinion that had he not done so, Holmes would have killed him off instead." Doyle asked for exorbitant fees from his publisher when agreeing to continue writing the stories because he wanted to be turned down so he would have a good reason to quit the series. They just kept paying him whatever he asked. That's just a bit. You'll have to read the book to find out the rest!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mayda

    Even though Sherlock Holmes was a fictional character, he has taken on a life of his own that has only become larger since his creation by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In this meticulously researched book, the reader becomes acquainted with Doyle, his genius and his foibles. The author explains how Doyle felt about Holmes, why he killed him off and why he resurrected him. We learn about Doyle’s family and his descendants. Also discussed are the many pastiches and other works about Holmes along with t Even though Sherlock Holmes was a fictional character, he has taken on a life of his own that has only become larger since his creation by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In this meticulously researched book, the reader becomes acquainted with Doyle, his genius and his foibles. The author explains how Doyle felt about Holmes, why he killed him off and why he resurrected him. We learn about Doyle’s family and his descendants. Also discussed are the many pastiches and other works about Holmes along with the problems concerning the copyright laws in various countries. Included, too, are the actors in films and movies who gave life to Holmes. Though nonfiction, the prose in the book flows like a novel, and is quite interesting whether you consider yourself a fan of Sherlock Holmes or not.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Robert Greenberger

    A fascinating history I am a fan of Holmes and a student of history so this book, a gift from my wife, was perfect. Bostrom does a marvelous job tracing Arthur Conan Doyle's life and Holmes career then taking us on a roller coaster ride as Holmes' popularity rose and fell across the years. That his children thoroughly mismanaged the estate and squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars has as much to do with thr times than basic incompetence. Aftrr all, Holmes was one of the first international A fascinating history I am a fan of Holmes and a student of history so this book, a gift from my wife, was perfect. Bostrom does a marvelous job tracing Arthur Conan Doyle's life and Holmes career then taking us on a roller coaster ride as Holmes' popularity rose and fell across the years. That his children thoroughly mismanaged the estate and squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars has as much to do with thr times than basic incompetence. Aftrr all, Holmes was one of the first international figures to be exploited across media and long after the creator perished. There were no templates to follow and they did their best, or so they thought. I learned quite a bit from this work and am inspired to track down various interpretations mentioned here. As with other books of this sort, the contemporary chapters feel short and incomplete, but that is a minor quibble in an otherwise marvelous work.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jess Clayton

    Interesting historical account of how the Sherlock Holmes series has fascinated the world since its inception. I enjoy reading the backstory of major literary works and ideas. This book is so thorough yet stays engaging enough to keep the reader's attention. This is the type of stuff that people wouldn't know because it isn't common knowledge. For instance, I wasn't aware that Conan Doyle created the character of Sherlock Holmes based on a teacher he had while in medical school. He would listen Interesting historical account of how the Sherlock Holmes series has fascinated the world since its inception. I enjoy reading the backstory of major literary works and ideas. This book is so thorough yet stays engaging enough to keep the reader's attention. This is the type of stuff that people wouldn't know because it isn't common knowledge. For instance, I wasn't aware that Conan Doyle created the character of Sherlock Holmes based on a teacher he had while in medical school. He would listen to this doctor use deductive reasoning to diagnose patients in the late 1800's and found it a quirky trait to give the detective in the stories he wrote. Holmes wasn't received well at first, but Bostrom provides the whole story, from birth to present day. The uniqueness of this book is in the way he chose to focus on the cultural aspect of Sherlock Holmes. As a big fan of current Sherlock Holmes television shows and movies, I was drawn to this book just out of curiosity. I never did much research on this topic, and I feel this was a great way for someone like me to learn why Holmes is so timeless. Bostrom's writing style is a little sensationalized but I think it fits the subject matter; Arthur Conan Doyle liked to be a little over the top and that's why a lot of people love Holmes and Watson. Overall, I really liked this book. I feel it gives fans an accurate account of how Holmes became a cultural icon around the world.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Damaris

    Sherlock Holmes is one of the most well-known literary figures of modern literature. He is one of those characters that needs no explanation, and whose shadow and legacy goes before him instead of behind. I am a big fan of the BBC Sherlock series, as well as the original books themselves, so I was excited to read this exploration of Holmes, Conan Doyle and Sherlockmania in general. The book starts with a biography of Conan Doyle himself, then moves into an account of the continuing publication an Sherlock Holmes is one of the most well-known literary figures of modern literature. He is one of those characters that needs no explanation, and whose shadow and legacy goes before him instead of behind. I am a big fan of the BBC Sherlock series, as well as the original books themselves, so I was excited to read this exploration of Holmes, Conan Doyle and Sherlockmania in general. The book starts with a biography of Conan Doyle himself, then moves into an account of the continuing publication and movie/TV history of Sherlock and Watson. The research that must have gone into this book is absolutely phenomenal, and the tone is very atmospheric. Bostrom does a great job of handling this book as nonfiction, but still places segments of fictional narrative for ambience. All in all, I really enjoyed this book and it was an informative read! Thank you to the publisher and to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my fair and honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andreas Bengtsson

    A marvellously written book about the creation of Sherlock Holmes, how he outgrew his authors control and became an early icon for modern day pop culture. It could have easily been a very dry non fiction account, butBoströms literary prose gives life to the events and the men and women who through different medias helped shaping our perception of the consulting detective. A must read for anyone with even the remotest interest in pop culture and how ourcollectuve imagination helps shaping beyond t A marvellously written book about the creation of Sherlock Holmes, how he outgrew his authors control and became an early icon for modern day pop culture. It could have easily been a very dry non fiction account, butBoströms literary prose gives life to the events and the men and women who through different medias helped shaping our perception of the consulting detective. A must read for anyone with even the remotest interest in pop culture and how ourcollectuve imagination helps shaping beyond the authors vision how a fictional character can maintain a long term interest.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Tully

    This is an interesting book for devout Sherlock Holmes fans who want to learn the entire history of that famous detective. Boström's book details an impressive scope of information with engaging prose. Personally, I felt that the last third of the book dragged on a bit. Overall, it was worth the read. This is an interesting book for devout Sherlock Holmes fans who want to learn the entire history of that famous detective. Boström's book details an impressive scope of information with engaging prose. Personally, I felt that the last third of the book dragged on a bit. Overall, it was worth the read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tim Johnson

    Whack-A-Mole, Swedish Style A long time ago, when I tried to learn a little bit about Swedish culture and history—including the language—a Swedish word, lagom, popped into view. It is a complex word with a rich history that might be used to portray the essence of Swedish society. Lagom is a leveling term, weighted with senses of sufficiency, appropriateness, or “just enough.” In other words, lagom comes into play if society views you as better than the rest, an expert, or highly accomplished. No Whack-A-Mole, Swedish Style A long time ago, when I tried to learn a little bit about Swedish culture and history—including the language—a Swedish word, lagom, popped into view. It is a complex word with a rich history that might be used to portray the essence of Swedish society. Lagom is a leveling term, weighted with senses of sufficiency, appropriateness, or “just enough.” In other words, lagom comes into play if society views you as better than the rest, an expert, or highly accomplished. No one is allowed to stick their head very far above the plane of Swedish society. Lagom won’t permit it. It is a kind of whack-a-mole cultural mentality. I’ll be the first to admit that the entire concept of lagom may be stereotypical or clichéd. My current sense of Swedishness comes from viewing episodes of Wallander on television or wondering about a girl with a dragon tattoo. But if lagom still operates in Swedish society, especially within its literary neighborhoods, then Mr. Mattias Boström better put on some padding and watch his head. He might get walloped in a big way because he’s written a book about Sherlock Holmes that is head and shoulders above anything we’ve seen lately. He may have already taken a few hits from literary compatriots and neighboring critics. From Holmes to Sherlock, the 2017 title under review here, is an English translation (and expansion, by a considerable number of pages) of the 2013 Swedish original, Från Holmes till Sherlock (Stockholm: Piratförlaget). Swedish reviewers were impressed, even as they fingered their mole mallets. Danish reviewers had their chance to whack Mr. Boström back into place—I don’t view lagom as a practice exclusively in the Swedish domain—when the Danish translation, Fra Holmes til Sherlock, appeared in 2014 (Modtryk, translated by Connie Møller Christensen). Germans got their chance to take a swing when Von Mr. Holmes zu Sherlock – Meisterdetektiv, Mythos, Medienstar appeared in 2015. This btb/Random House edition, translated by Susanne Dahmann and Hanna Granz, demonstrated another reason readers and reviewers might want to pummel Mr. Boström: he keeps revising the text. Given all the tinkering he’s done since—he continued the practice with the 2016 Norwegian edition (Quintano, translated by Ragnhild Aasland Sekne and Anlaug Lia) and now the expanded English edition, smartly translated by Michael Gallagher—Boström presents himself as both a prominent and moving target (in a good way). Tinkering aside—and we’re glad he continued to fiddle with the text—Boström accomplishes a remarkable feat in 597 pages with a style and grace that leaves one nearly speechless. In the course of 111 episodic chapters spread over eight chronological sections, he elegantly compresses 140 years of Doylean and Holmesian adventure into a transcendent tale tracing the evolution of the world’s most famous consulting detective from his first appearance on the pages of the Beeton’s Christmas Annual (1887) to his twenty-first century digital reincarnation on fanfiction platforms and in the restoration of a supposedly lost silent film. One gets a sense of the magnitude of Boström’s accomplishment by considering the following slices of the Sherlockian universe: Ronald De Waal’s magisterial four volume bibliography, The Universal Sherlock Holmes, covers the years 1887 to 1994 and lists 24,703 items. Archive of Our Own (AO3) list 105,694 creative works on Sherlock Holmes and related fandoms; all of these pieces were produced in the last decade! Together they account for over 130,000 creations inspired by the adventures of Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson. It is as if Boström took all these works—texts, commentaries, illustrations, animations, movies, podcasts, the lot—and energetically, yet gracefully compressed them into an evolutionary narrative that allows us to comprehend the true genius of Sir Arthur’s Victorian creation—and all who have followed in his wake. Boström’s magnum opus, for that is what it is, delivers on the promise of his subtitle: a compelling story of the men and women who created an icon. Doyle’s first Sherlockian scratch on foolscap is the Big Bang of the Sherlockian universe. What Boström allows us to witness, and appreciate, is the ever expanding creative, poignant, and diverse nature of this captivating cosmos. Swedes proverbially say “Lagom är bäst,” the right amount is the best, or as it is sometimes translated “Enough is as good as a feast.” In From Holmes to Sherlock Mattias Boström stands this adage on its head. He gives us a perfect feast—far better than any moderating cultural norm. Standing high above the Sherlockian plane, Mr. Boström need not worry of being whacked back into a mole hole of critical or literary conformity. His tale is too majestic. Besides, Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson would never allow such a thing to happen. Timothy J. Johnson Curator of Special Collections and Rare Books E. W. McDiarmid Curator of the Sherlock Holmes Collections Cheryll L. Fong Assistant Curator of the Sherlock Holmes Collections University of Minnesota Libraries

  20. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    Dense, imaginative, meticulously researched, with 40-plus pages of Sources and a bibliography nearly as long. Occasionally meandering but never dull; an excellent read for anyone intrigued by the persistence of Sherlock Holmes.

  21. 4 out of 5

    John Richards

    Great read for Sherlock Holmes' fans. Insight into the background of Sherlock Holmes and how the stories were published and made available to the world and the internal rivalries which almost scuttled many ways of publishing the books and stories. Great read for Sherlock Holmes' fans. Insight into the background of Sherlock Holmes and how the stories were published and made available to the world and the internal rivalries which almost scuttled many ways of publishing the books and stories.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    Fascinating look at Doyle's life, the creation of Holmes, the squabbles among his ne'r do-well sons for copyright, money and folly that they created in their greed and foolishness. Fascinating look at Doyle's life, the creation of Holmes, the squabbles among his ne'r do-well sons for copyright, money and folly that they created in their greed and foolishness.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Started strong, bogged down by detail

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bethany Swafford

    From the time Sherlock Holmes was created, the world has been fascinated. Over one hundred later, the public still can't get enough of the great detective. This book starts from the moment Arthur Conan Doyle conceived the idea of a story about an unusual and observant detective, and then follows those who had an influence in bringing Sherlock Holmes through the ages. At times, it seems like the telling drags a little with too much information about the lives of those who had a hand in crafting an From the time Sherlock Holmes was created, the world has been fascinated. Over one hundred later, the public still can't get enough of the great detective. This book starts from the moment Arthur Conan Doyle conceived the idea of a story about an unusual and observant detective, and then follows those who had an influence in bringing Sherlock Holmes through the ages. At times, it seems like the telling drags a little with too much information about the lives of those who had a hand in crafting and promoting Sherlock Holmes, but those details really bring to life what an impact the detective had on so many people. I would recommend this to anyone who loves Sherlock Holmes.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rosie

    'From Holmes to Sherlock' was an interesting read, combining biography of the characters and Conan Doyle himself. It dragged slightly in places and was occasionally difficult to follow the narrative as it flitted from subject to subject. Even so, the book is a comprehensive account of Sherlock Holmes and his fans and I did enjoy reading it. 'From Holmes to Sherlock' was an interesting read, combining biography of the characters and Conan Doyle himself. It dragged slightly in places and was occasionally difficult to follow the narrative as it flitted from subject to subject. Even so, the book is a comprehensive account of Sherlock Holmes and his fans and I did enjoy reading it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    (I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair review) For me, this book could be divided into three parts: Part 1, a biography of Arthur Conan Doyle focused mostly on his creation of Sherlock Holmes, was an interesting, if a bit sparse read. I was expecting more on his inspiration for each of the stories, but it could just be that the information isn't available (as the book goes into later, Doyle's collection of papers was only made available for researchers very recently) (I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair review) For me, this book could be divided into three parts: Part 1, a biography of Arthur Conan Doyle focused mostly on his creation of Sherlock Holmes, was an interesting, if a bit sparse read. I was expecting more on his inspiration for each of the stories, but it could just be that the information isn't available (as the book goes into later, Doyle's collection of papers was only made available for researchers very recently). It dispels some myths, such as that Joseph Bell was the inspiration for the character when in reality Doyle witnessed Bell's methods and mannerisms and extrapolated them into a wholly-original detective character, and overall this section was enjoyable. Part 2, the middle third of the book, focuses a lot on Doyle's children and their various attempts to capitalize on the character in order to fund their eccentric or extravagant lifestyles. This section seriously dragged, especially since I don't have as much personal experience with the Basil Rathbone movies, and I remember finding the John Gielgud radio drama that I listened to as a kid pretty dry and dull. This section also gets into the origins of the various Sherlockian societies, which got a lot of mostly-unimportant exposition (most likely because there is a lot of information about the Sherlockian societies, since most of their main work has been publishing scholarly articles and books). Part 3 was the most interesting to me, because it focused on the Holmes adaptations that I was most familiar with: the Jeremy Brett adaptations, Disney animated film The Great Mouse Detective (my childhood introduction to Sherlock Holmes, even if I didn't know it at the time), the Robert Downey Jr. movies, and the modern day Sherlock and Elementary series. So your mileage with this book may vary. It didn't go as in-depth into areas I would've like it to (the writing of the stories), and went way into depth on areas I didn't care as much about (Adrian Conan Doyle's legal wranglings with authors and Hollywood), most likely due to the availability of primary sources.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Melisende

    It is a look at Homes from his humble beginnings with Conan Doyle, to his transference to the silver screen, and a look at his modern-day metamorphosis. Strictly for fans of Sherlock Holmes and all things associated as with being over 500 pages plus, those with a passing interest will quickly find themselves down a veritable rabbit hole, wondering where the exit is.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Faouzia

    4.5 Stars " Here, though the world explode, these two survive / And it is always eighteen ninety-five" (Vincent Starrett) I feel i have just emergerd from a parallel world. I thought i would wait a bit before writing this review, organize my ideas better, but i guess better do it in the heat of the moment. I am not exactly what is called a Sherlockian or a Holmesian, i am an average fun of the Great Detective, occasionally reading the original stories or some particularly good pastiches, following 4.5 Stars " Here, though the world explode, these two survive / And it is always eighteen ninety-five" (Vincent Starrett) I feel i have just emergerd from a parallel world. I thought i would wait a bit before writing this review, organize my ideas better, but i guess better do it in the heat of the moment. I am not exactly what is called a Sherlockian or a Holmesian, i am an average fun of the Great Detective, occasionally reading the original stories or some particularly good pastiches, following the most interesting adaptations, not exactly immersed in his world, i was not even aware that he was inspired by a real person in Sir Arthur's life. I was however very intrigued by this book and when i saw it was available for request in NetGalley i did not think twice about it. I was afraid a bit that i would get bored along the way, i mean the book is quite long and honestly what can there be in Holmes world to fill all these pages. But what a surprise i found, such an amazing surprise actually. I am now wondering how come the book was not longer. Anyway, i knew before reading this book that there are a lot of societies that practically worship Mr Holmes, i had no idea how huge this phenomenon was, and most important i did not know that this phenomenon started from the first short stories that Sir Arthur wrote about him. I liked how the book was structured, starting with the life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and how he came to write about Sherlock Holmes, and how this character was treated and developped during his lifetime. I was actually fascinated by Conan Doyle, let's just say it takes a genius to make a genius. He was not was i imagined him to be, and in fact it is no longuer a surprise for me that Holmes came from him. He was himself full of contradictions, eccentricities... The other major part of the book is how the character was "handled"since the death of Author, with all the copyright issues, the pastiches, the theatre/series/films adaptation, and the people that gravitated around Sherlock Holmes and John H.Watson. Two fact were really fascinating for me. The first is that this final image, this immortal image of Sherlock Holmes we all have was not only Sir Arthur's creation, the first actore who brought Holmes to theatre, the first one to personnify Holmes gave him many of the features he became famous for. The second fact, is that Mr Holmes led two separate parallel lives in UK and USA ever since he was created. I found it very interesting how the Mr Matthia Bostöm talked about the "life" of Sherlock Holmes, how he was immortalized, developped even monetized especially by the sons of Sir Arthur, in a way that made him more real than ever. It is really amazing that this fictif person made a very real impact on many lives, he even shaped some lives in a way that would not have happened without him. It is a disturbing thing to say about a litterary character that was created 120 years ago. But it is very real. Another funny fact was the way Mr Holmes took over the lives of anyone who invested a bit more time in him than the average, starting with Sir Arthur and how he even laothed Holmes at moments for not allowing him to get away. It was funny and interesting, Sir Arthur owed his fame to Mr Holmes and at the same time he was not allowed by the thousands of fan to leave him behind, "to kill him off" as he tried to do so many times and write about other things. Similar situations happened to actors who succeeded in playing the role of Sherlock, they never quite got out of that brand, each decade had its own figure of Sherlock, and in this one it is definitely Benedict Cumberbatch. I really believe Sir Arthur would have enjoyed watching it, he was already ahead of his time. If anything, this book made me pile more books to read in my already full list, so many interesting books about Sherlock Holmes were written and i feel curious about them. I am now more curious about the original stories than i ever was, and i forsee a lot of digging into the world on Mr Holmes in my near future. I started this review with a quote that made me pause during my reading of the book, it is by one of the "hard-core" Sherlockian of America, it was written during the WWII and i believe it will always be acurate when it comes to the Great detective and his faithful friend Dr Watson. " Here, though the world explode, these two survive / And it is always eighteen ninety-five" I will end this review by a quote that did not figure in this book, but that any fan of Sherlock will definitely relate to, I AM SHERLOCKED

  29. 4 out of 5

    Erin Britton

    It’s pretty well known that despite Sherlock Holmes’ immense popularity among readers (and now TV, film and game fans) worldwide, Arthur Conan Doyle was far less keen on his most famous creation. Indeed, Conan Doyle sent Holmes to meet both Moriarty and death at the Reichenbach Falls in ‘The Final Problem’ because he wanted to free himself of the world’s greatest consulting detective and concentrate on more worthy literary endeavours. However, his indifference to the life of Sherlock Holmes has It’s pretty well known that despite Sherlock Holmes’ immense popularity among readers (and now TV, film and game fans) worldwide, Arthur Conan Doyle was far less keen on his most famous creation. Indeed, Conan Doyle sent Holmes to meet both Moriarty and death at the Reichenbach Falls in ‘The Final Problem’ because he wanted to free himself of the world’s greatest consulting detective and concentrate on more worthy literary endeavours. However, his indifference to the life of Sherlock Holmes has never been better or more amusingly illustrated than in one particular quote Mattias Boström has included in The Life and Death of Sherlock Holmes. In it, Boström relates an encounter between Conan Doyle and a Holmes fan who had expended considerable effort in surveying all the properties on Baker Street in an effort to determine which house was the one inhabited by the great detective (that is, which house Conan Doyle based 221B Baker Street on). After presenting his findings and seeking confirmation of his conclusion, the man was rewarded with the following disclosure from Conan Doyle: “Do you know, I don’t think I’ve ever been to Baker Street in my life.” Although rather funny, the impact that one sentence has really hammers home how well established the Holmes mythology is as well as just how important he remains to innumerable people. It’s almost astounding to think that Conan Doyle seemingly just plucked the address (and the house, the specific apartment and the wider environs) out of thin air, made up the details as he saw fit and then gave the matter relatively little thought. (And that’s after you’ve got over the shock that Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character in the first place.) Holmes and the world he inhabits are just so real, so essential, that it’s sometimes difficult to remember that his adventures are not a matter of historical fact. The level of interest and devotion that Sherlock Holmes has inspired is arguably unequalled and, as Boström makes clear, that seems to have been the case almost since the publication of the very first Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet. Given the tremendous popularity of Sherlock Holmes as well as the wealth of appearances he has made in all manner of media, compiling a comprehensive account of the life and legacy of the famous detective would seem almost an impossible task, but Mattias Boström has succeeded in doing just that with The Life and Death of Sherlock Holmes. Boström actually begins his account prior to the creation of Sherlock Holmes, thereby allowing readers to understand the circumstances that led Conan Doyle to create the world’s most famous private detective. After a brief insight into the modern position of Sherlock Holmes, Boström starts the book with Arthur Conan Doyle’s time as a medical student in Edinburgh, including an illuminating example of the deductive prowess of his lecturer, Dr Joseph Bell, who displayed a number of the key traits that would later characterise Sherlock Holmes. As Conan Doyle’s medical career developed, so did his passion for becoming a writer, although detective fiction was not his first love in that regard. Boström tracks the publishing history of Sherlock Holmes and, alongside it, the life, loves and career of Arthur Conan Doyle. There is so much interesting information woven together with the life story of Sherlock Holmes; Conan Doyle really did live an extraordinarily full life that saw him travel to fascinating destinations and encounter intriguing (and sometimes infamous) individuals. Boström devotes equal time to Conan Doyle’s private life as to his public life, which helps to explain both his own development and the direction that the Holmes stories took. In fact, the reason behind the resurrection of Sherlock Holmes was closely tied to Conan Doyle’s personal life – he had an expensive new house and a new young family, and he could really do with the money that he knew new Holmes adventures would bring in. Boström has uncovered a wealth of information about Conan Doyle’s family, who really were an eclectic bunch. In charting their respective lives, he touches upon World War One, spiritualism, adultery, the film business, dodgy business deals, abandonment, the exploits of minor royalty, copyright laws and much more. It makes for fascinating reading in a ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ kind of way. Interestingly, Arthur Conan Doyle himself doesn’t always appear in the best possible light, particularly in relation to his treatment of his eldest daughter. Still, every member of the family was affected in some profound way by Sherlock Holmes, whether it be the writing of the stories, the management of the legacy or the public appreciation of the character. Of course, it wasn’t just the lives of the various members of the Conan Doyle family that were shaped by the adventures of Sherlock Holmes. As such, Boström examines the role played by those other than Arthur Conan Doyle in the creation and popularisation of the detective, including illustrator Sidney Paget (who added the famous deerstalker hat and pipe to Holmes’ wardrobe) and publisher Joseph Stoddart (who commissioned Conan Doyle to write The Sign of the Four during the same dinner party at which he commissioned Oscar Wilde to write The Picture of Dorian Gray). Boström also offers a thorough overview of the various adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes stories, from theatre productions to television shows and films. Some hugely memorable names have been involved in those adaptations, including William Gillette (who coined the phrase “Elementary, my dear Watson”), Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Jeremy Brett, Peter Cushing and Peter O’Toole. It is the fact that the Sherlock Holmes stories remain so popular today and hence continue to be adapted for stage and screen that allows Boström to continue presenting Holmes’ biography up to almost the present day, with the closing chapters discussing the television shows ‘Sherlock’ and ‘Elementary’ and the film ‘Mr Holmes’ before circling back to reference the recent (re)discovery of a copy of the William Gillette ‘Sherlock Holmes’ film. It is clear that Holmes was just as popular in 2016 as he was in 1916. The Life and Death of Sherlock Holmes is a phenomenal achievement in Sherlockian scholarship. It is packed with detail, both the well known and the obscure, while still being eminently readable. In fact, in places it reads like a novel, which is in part due to some of the fantastical stories associated with those involved in the world of Sherlock Holmes, but mainly due to Mattias Boström’s enthusiasm and clear love of his subject. It’s the kind of book that should appeal to both Holmes devotees and casual fans of some of his more recent incarnations.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Geoff Habiger

    From Holmes to Sherlock is a large book, with a massive scope, but don't let that scare you. Mattias Boström has created a wonderful narration of the history of one of the greatest literary characters of all time. With short chapters Mattias draws the reader along on an entertaining walk through history. Ostensibly the book is about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the man who created Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Mattias takes us back to the early days in Doyle's life, touching on his time in medical s From Holmes to Sherlock is a large book, with a massive scope, but don't let that scare you. Mattias Boström has created a wonderful narration of the history of one of the greatest literary characters of all time. With short chapters Mattias draws the reader along on an entertaining walk through history. Ostensibly the book is about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the man who created Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Mattias takes us back to the early days in Doyle's life, touching on his time in medical school (learning under Dr. John Bell), and then his foray into medicine in Portsmouth. Luckily for the literary world the young Dr. Doyle had few clients, which allowed him time to write. Mattias explores Doyle's early writing career, including many of his other (non-Holmes) short stories and novels. The book explores the first publications of Sherlock Holmes, and the growing interest in the character not only in England but in Europe and America. Throughout the narrative of Doyle, Mattias weaves in the stories of other people - from artists, publishers, and actors - who would be so influential in making Doyle's creation become the phenomenon that he has become. One aspect of Mattias's book that I enjoyed was that he continues the story of what has happened with Sherlock Homes after Conan Doyle's death. We get to see, even while Conan Doyle was alive, how the character of Holmes grew at times beyond the author's ability to control him. And after his death, the control and attempt to profit from Holmes passed onto Conan Doyle's heirs. Learning about all of the intrigue, the ideas, and the infighting among Conan Doyle's sons was quite interesting and added a lot to my knowledge of the Sherlock Holmes legend. Mattias continues his narration through to the most recent iterations of Sherlock Holmes in print and in TV and movies, touching on the BBC series Sherlock, and the Sherlock Holmes movies staring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. But throughout the narration we learn about the other great actors who have portrayed Holmes and Watson, each doing their part to make the character their own while attempting to retain the feel of the original Conan Doyle stories. We also learn about many of the Sherlockian fan clubs that have sprung up around the world to honor the character and the author. I was particularly interested to learn about a fan club created by John Bennett Shaw, who lived in Santa Fe. Shaw was a dedicated collector of all things Holmes, and he created a dubious fan club for Holmes' arch nemesis, Prof. James Moriarty. And ever year Shaw would host an "Unhappy Birthday Party" for Moriarty in the town of Moriarty, New Mexico. I found this bit of information so wonderfully exciting because I happen to live only 30 miles from Moriarty, NM. This is a wonderful book that not only focuses on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the man and the author, but also on his best known creation. How Mr. Holmes (from the early days) to Sherlock (today) is a narrative that spans many different stories and Mattias Boström has done an excellent job of taking the threads of all of these narratives into a single whole. Worth the time to read and explore for any Sherlock Holmes fan. (Note: I read the English translation of the book by Michael Gallagher.)

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