We all know this quote even if we’re not Sherlock Holmes fans. I’ve read a few Sherlock Holmes novels and always believed that Sherlock Holmes said these words in many of the books; but I just discovered in my reading of a new book& The Sherlockian by Graham Moore, that Sherlock Holmes never uttered that exact phrase in any of the sixty Holmes’ stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle. Then why is it attributed to the great detective? Stay tuned! First let me tell you a bit about this new book. The Sherlockian is a great read and an historical mystery that has not one but two mysteries to solve. One takes place in the present where Harold White who has just been inducted into the pre-eminent Sherlockian society, the Baker Street Irregulars, must figure out who has murdered scholar Alex Cale who claims to have discovered the long-lost diary penned by Arthur Conan Doyle. The other mystery takes us back to 1893 where the famous Arthur Conan Doyle and his best friend Bram Stoker of Dracula fame team up to solve a series of murders. Both Harold and Conan Doyle use Holmes’ methods to solve the crimes, and along the way we learn many facts about Mr. Doyle and his creation Sherlock Holmes. There really is a lost diary, and Arthur Conan Doyle did help police solve crimes. Also why would Conan Doyle actually kill off his great detective and how did the people of London react to Holmes’ death. You'll discover the answers and more in The Sherlockian.
If you’re a true Sherlockian, a Holmesian or just curious, there are many books and sources you can investigate to learn more about Conan Doyle and his great detective Sherlock Holmes. Here are a few: Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle by Daniel Stashower, The Real World of Sherlock Holmes: The True Crimes Investigated by Arthur Conan Doyle by Peter Costello, Sherlock Holmes Handbook by Thomas Ross, or visit the website: www.Sherlockian.net or SJPL's database Literary Reference Center.
Now back to that phrase, “Elementary, my dear Watson.” Holmes often says “elementary” when asked how he figured something out and he often referred to Watson as “my dear Watson,” but those fragments never appear together; one of the closest examples appears in “The Adventure of the Crooked Man.” That famous phrase, never uttered by Holmes in any of the Sherlock Holmes books, was said by Basil Rathbone in the movie Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon. Here's a short clip with Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Watson. Mystery solved!