The Real Sherlock Holmes Critical Essays

Mary Hoehling


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In her preface to The Real Sherlock Holmes, Hoehling sets forth several points that are emphasized throughout her work: Doyle’s creative imagination, his love of adventure, his natural sympathy for other human beings (especially those in difficulties), his strong interest in both historical and contemporary events, and his gift for writing convincing prose. Hoehling’s fondness for Doyle and the family members and friends who were part of his life is thus readily understood.

Probably for the sake of dramatic action, Hoehling chose to create fictional situations in which Doyle’s thoughts, emotions, or private conversations are detailed. An example begins the book: Nine-year-old Doyle confronts a local bully harassing an old ragpicker in the streets of Edinburgh and is beaten up for his attempt to defend her. Many young readers would probably not distinguish such imagined accounts from strictly historical narrative, as Hoehling makes her transitions from fact to fiction smoothly and also includes a number of actual quotations from Doyle’s works and letters. The inclusion of fictional treatments, however, would limit the book’s appeal to readers who prefer a biography based only on strictly historical sources.

Although Doyle’s most important achievements were in the field of literature, Hoehling also devotes considerable attention, especially in the first eight chapters, to his earlier career as a young doctor. Doyle’s...

(The entire section is 600 words.)