Sherlock Holmes

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Holmes, Sherlock:

see Doyle, Sir Arthur ConanDoyle, Sir Arthur Conan
, 1859–1930, British author and creator of Sherlock Holmes, b. Edinburgh. Educated at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh, he received a medical degree in 1881.
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Holmes, Sherlock

(pop culture)

Dracula and Sherlock Holmes vie with each other as the most popular fictional character in the English-speaking world. Dracula (1897) is the single novel most frequently made into a movie, while Sherlock Holmes, the subject of 56 short stories and four novels, is the character most frequently brought to the screen (with Dracula a close second). Both have been the subject of many more additional books and stories by authors who use one or the other as their central figure.

The Sussex Vampire: Sherlock Holmes had only one brush with a vampire. The short story, “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire” appeared in the January 1924 issue of the Strand Magazine, just six months before the dramatic version of Dracula written by Hamilton Deane opened in rural England. The story began with an inquiry concerning vampires, to which Holmes made what has become one of his more famous lines, “Rubbish, Watson, rubbish! What have we to do with walking corpses who can only be held in their grave by stakes driven through their hearts? It’s pure lunacy.” Watson reminded him that vampirism might take the form of a living person sucking the blood of someone younger in order to retain his or her youth (a probable reference to the case of Elizabeth Bathory). Their client, Robert Ferguson, related an incident in which his wife was found apparently biting the neck of their infant son and immediately afterwards was seen with blood on her mouth. To Holmes the idea of a vampire, even the more human one described by Watson, was absurd. “Such things do not happen in criminal practice in England.” But, Holmes asked rhetorically, “Could not a bleeding wound be sucked for other than vampiric reasons?” Holmes simply thought of the alternative, that the mother was in fact sucking poison from a wound the child had received from his older jealous stepbrother.

While Dracula was enjoying success on the stage throughout the country, “The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire” received its first dramatization in a 1929–30 British radio series of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, prepared for broadcast by Edith Meiser. Her version would be the one most frequently used when other adaptations were made, such as the first American radio dramatization in 1936 and the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce portrayals in 1939–40 and 1941–42. The first television adaptations occurred in the fall of 1964 for the BBC. Most recently, the story has become the subject of two movies: Sherlock Holmes in Caracas (Venezuela, 1992) and Sherlock Holmes: The Last Vampire (United Kingdom, 1992), the latter being a made-for-television movie in the Jeremy Brett/Edward Hardwicke series of Sherlock Holmes stories.

Holmes Meets Dracula: Over the decades there have been several attempts to link Sherlock Holmes to the Dracula story. For instance, Sherlockians have entertained themselves with a debate that Dr. Abraham Van Helsing was in fact Sherlock Holmes in disguise. Purists, however, have rejected such a notion. Since both Sherlock Holmes and Dracula were pictured by their creators, Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker, as contemporaries in the Victorian world of the late nineteenth century, it was inevitable that, in view of the recent revived interest in each, someone would suggest their interaction. A hint of what was to come appeared in 1976 when Nicholas Meyer added Bram Stoker as a character in The West End Horror, a new Sherlock Holmes story. Two years later, two different authors picked up on the suggestion.

Loren D. Estleman, writing as Holmes’s chronicler Dr. John H. Watson, authored Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula: The Adventures of the Sanguinary Count. What would happen if Holmes were called in to solve the case of the Demeter, the ship that brought Dracula to London but then was found mysteriously wrecked at Whitby with all its crew dead. And then while working on the case, Holmes’s interest was drawn to the accounts of the “Bloofer Lady,” Lucy Westenra as a vampire preying on the local children of Hamstead Heath. The great detective followed his clues as he became involved in the events of the original novel and was led to his own confrontation with Dracula.

Estleman closely followed the characterizations of the creators of Holmes and Dracula: Holmes was good; Dracula was the epitome of evil. Not so for Fred Saberhagen. In his series of novels, Saberhagen saw Dracula as a misunderstood and maligned figure, the victim of the ignorant and malicious Dr. John Seward. In the second of his series of novels, The Holmes-Dracula Files, Saberhagen brought the two characters together, but had to accommodate the plot to the reversal already made in The Dracula Tape (1975). The story revolved around a plot to destroy London during Queen Victoria’s Jubilee celebration. The story was complicated by Dracula’s being hit on the head, resulting in a case of amnesia. He could not remember who he was, not even his vampiric nature. To add a little color, he and Holmes were the spitting image of each other, even Holmes’s companion Dr. Watson had trouble telling them apart. Could they, however, pool their resources to defeat the evil Dr. Seward? After the double-barreled blast from Estleman and Saberhagen, it wasn’t until the 1980s that Dracula and Holmes would again be brought together. They had a brief encounter in Dracula’s Diary (1982), in which Dracula made a scenic tour of Victorian characters. Then, in the early stages of the vampire’s return to comic books in 1987, Dracula was pitted against several of his Victorian contemporaries, from Jack the Ripper to Sherlock Holmes. On the centennial of “A Study in Scarlet,” the first Holmes story, Martin Powell published Scarlet in Gaslight, a four-issue series that began with Holmes’s traditional nemesis, Professor Moriarty, traveling to Transylvania to make common cause with Dracula. Holmes had been drawn into the count’s domain, however, by the mother of Lucy Westenra, who had begun to show mysterious symptoms of fatigue and blood loss. Holmes was sharp enough to trace Dracula in Lucy’s bedroom in Whitby. In the end, however, he was unable to prevent her death.

Meanwhile, Moriarty had developed a plot to release a plague of vampires on London, though his alliance with Dracula had fallen apart. Eventually, Dracula and Holmes united to stop the professor. Dracula only wanted to have the now vampiric Lucy at his side. He was thwarted when she was killed (the true death) in the final encounters in London. The main characters survived, to meet one last time at the famous falls in Switzerland where Holmes faked his own death and, with relish, Dracula killed Moriarty. In The Dracula Caper (1988, the eighth in the Time Wars series by Simon Hawke), Holmes does not appear, but Doyle teams with Bram Stoker to save the world from Dracula. The most recent encounter between Holmes and Dracula found but a small audience of Holmes enthusiasts. Published in a limited edition, it quickly sold out. In The Tangled Skein, author David Stuart Davies picked up the plot of “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” one of the most famous Holmes stories. Stapleton, the villain of the earlier story, returned to continue his evil, but was soon surpassed by a series of bloody murders that served to bring Dr. Van Helsing into Holmes’s territory. The two were forced to unite their efforts to deal with both Stapleton and Dracula.

The possible encounter of Sherlock Holmes and a vampire has just been too tantalizing to leave alone; several authors have picked up the challenge of keeping Holmes true to Doyle’s character while sending him off to pit his mind against the irrational. Val Andrews’s Sherlock Holmes and the Longacre Vampire begins with a series of unusual murders occasioned by, or at least associated with, the opening of Dracula in Henry Irving’s theatre (which, of course, never occurred). Holmes must move in to discover what lies behind the seemingly vampire-caused deaths. In Stephen Seitz’s Sherlock Holmes and the Plague of Dracula, Mina Murray engages Holmes’s services to locate Jonathan Harker, her future husband who has disappeared during his trip to Transylvania. Holmes must go east to encounter Dracula and bring his client’s lost love back home.

Sources:

Andrews, Val. Sherlock Holmes and the Longacre Vampire. London: Breese Books, 2001. 125 pp.
Cox, Greg. The Transylvanian Library: A Consumer’s Guide to Vampire Fiction. San Bernardino, CA: Borgo Press, 1993. 264 pp.
Doyle, Arthur Conan. The Annotated Sherlock Holmes. 2 vols. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, 1967. Eyles, Allen. Sherlock Holmes: A Centenary Celebration. London: John Murray, 1986. 141 pp.
Geare, Michael, and Michael Corby. Dracula’s Dairy. New York: Beaufort Books, 1982. 153 pp.
Godfrey, Robert. “‘Tangled Skein’ Heading for the Big Screen.” Sherlock Holmes Gazette 8 (Autumn 1993): 36–37.
Hawke, Simon. The Dracula Caper. Time War No. 8. New York: Berkley Ace, 1988. 212 pp.
Jones, Kevin. The Carfax Syndrome: Being a Study of Vampirism in the Canoin. New York: Magico Magazine, 1964. 18 pp.
Saberhagen, Fred. The Holmes-Dracula File. New York: Ace Books, 1978. 249 pp. Scarlet in Gaslight. 4 vols. Newbury Park, CA: Eternity Comics, 1987–88.
Seitz, Steven. Sherlock Holmes and the Plague of Dracula. Shaftsbury, CT: Mountainside Press, 2006. 208 pp.
Watson, John H. (pseudonym of Loren D. Estleman). Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula: The Adventure of the Sanguinary Count. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1978. 211 pp. Rept. New York: Penguin Books, 1979. 214 pp.

Sherlock Holmes

 

A fictional private detective, the hero of short stories and novels by A. Conan Doyle, who chose the surname in honor of the American writer O. W. Holmes. The name “Sherlock” in Russian has acquired the connotation of a common noun.

Holmes, Sherlock

returns in disguise after his supposed death to surprise his enemies. [Br. Lit.: Doyle The Return of Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes]

Holmes, Sherlock

the famous sleuth, addicted to cocaine. [Br. Lit.: Benét, 473]

Holmes, Sherlock

the great detective; famous for deductive reasoning. [Br. Lit.: Payton, 316]