Thursday, May 29, 2014

"Where Sherlock Holmes Got His Name"

Like the origin of the term "S.O.S.", how Holmes acquired his moniker is still an unsettled matter, despite what this item asserts:
THE London Morning Post solves a question of momentous literary import. Thanks to its indefatigable researches, we know at last how Sherlock Holmes got his name.
No less a person than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is the authority.
Sir Arthur did not get his hero from the spirit world. Indeed, at that time he was not greatly interested in the spirit world, or at least his interest had not become public property.
He named his detective Holmes because it was an ordinary, common name, which he used to break the Dickens tradition of names like Sharp for law officers.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, not a cricket player.
Sir Arthur got the name Sherlock from a cricket player against whose bowling he made thirty runs.
The name of this phenomenally bad bowler stuck in his memory and eventually became the Christian name of the great detective. — "Life, Letters, and the Arts: Where Sherlock Holmes Got His Name," THE LIVING AGE (December 20, 1924; see page 676, bottom right)
As far as Holmes' name, his last name may have been based on American jurist and fellow doctor Oliver Wendell Holmes and his first name may have come from Alfred Sherlock, a prominent violinist of his time. Dr. John Watson, a fellow Southsea doctor and Portsmouth Literary and Scientific Society member who served time in Manchuria, received the honour of having Holmes' partner named for him. — THE SHERLOCK HOLMES SOCIETY OF LONDON
My name? It's on the tip of my mind . . .
- See "The Name of Sherlock Holmes" HERE.

Category: Detective fiction


  1. Apparently the character's name was originally "Sherringford Holmes", but was changed to "Sherlock" after Conan Doyle received a few rejection letters. Very interesting, I'm always curious how people come up with character names.

    In my own writing I named my leading man "Rhys", which was my dog's name. I later realised he would therefore be "Mr Rhys", which was similar to "mysteries". Corny but unintentional :) Think the Riddler in Batman also had a variation on this ("Coleman Reese"), but only found that out after the Dark Knight movie.

    1. P.J. - It's good to hear from you. Your weblog, THE LOCKED ROOM, is a fine addition to the conversation. - Mike