Sherlock Holmes Pastiches Characters


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

In December, 1887, a seminal event in the history of English literature occurred: the publication of A Study in Scarlet, for it introduced the most popular and imitated character that the world has ever seen—Sherlock Holmes. Its author, Arthur Conan Doyle, went on to write a total of sixty Holmes tales—four novels and fifty-six short stories that came to be regarded as the Holmesian, or Sherlockian, canon. Those sixty tales define the character of Holmes and his friend, colleague, and chronicler, Dr. Watson, and define the methods and skills that have made Holmes stories, in all their various forms, among the most popular books in the world.

However, Doyle has not been the only author to chronicle Sherlock Holmes’s adventures. Thousands of stories featuring Holmes and Watson have been written by other authors, as writers throughout the world have attempted to put their own stamp on the saga. From England to America, from Russia to Japan, and across the globe, writers have tried their hands at endowing Holmes with eternal life. As novelist Vincent Starrett once said, Holmes is a man “who never lived and so can never die.” His continuing existence is the realm of the pastiche.

The term pastiche encompasses the concepts of both parody and homage. Although Holmes has been subject to both, most pastiches fit the latter category. They are attempts to tell tales as Doyle would have told them with all the respect that he did. They...

(The entire section is 422 words.)

Peripheral Characters

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Many Sherlock Holmes pastiches revolve not around Holmes himself, but other characters created by Doyle, and even some simply created by circumstance. Three central characters in serial novels are Holmes’s brother, Mycroft Holmes; Irene Adler; and Mary Russell, Sherlock Holmes’s wife.

Mycroft Holmes has been used by many authors, but he actually appears in only two canonical stories, “The Greek Interpreter” and “The Bruce-Partington Plans.” Doyle also briefly mentions him in “The Final Problem” and “The Adventure of the Empty House.” One of the most popular works to make Mycroft a central character is Enter the Lion, a 1979 novel by Michael Hodel and Sean Wright. This tale brings Mycroft and Sherlock together in 1875, before Holmes meets Watson. Mycroft takes the lead here as he and Sherlock thwart a scheme to overthrow the American government and establish Confederate rule ten years after the American Civil War. A series of books by Quinn Fawcett has Mycroft defending the British government, its treaties, and its diplomatic relationships against a shadowy group known as the Brotherhood. These stories are narrated by Mycroft’s secretary, Pittman Guthrie, who acts as a Watson-like character and does the legwork in investigations, much as Archie Goodwin serves Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe.

Irene Adler has also become a seminal figure in the world of Holmesian pastiches. Along with Moriarty, she is probably the most...

(The entire section is 425 words.)