Sherlock Holmes Day
annually on May 22nd (since 2013)
Sherlock Holmes Day celebrates Sherlock Holmes and the author who created him, Arthur Conan Doyle, who was born on today's date in 1859 in Edinburgh, Scotland. At a young age, Doyle became enthralled by stories his mother told him, which was the spark that eventually would lead him to become a writer. He was sent to a Jesuit preparatory school in England at the age of 9. After a few years, he went on to study at Stonyhurst College, and after graduating in 1876, he went on to pursue a medical degree at the University of Edinburgh. There he met Professor Dr. Joseph Bell, who became his mentor, and later became the inspiration and model for Sherlock Holmes.
While in medical school, Doyle wrote the short stories "The Mystery of Sasassa Valley" and "The American's Tale," the latter of which appeared in London Society magazine. He also worked as a ship surgeon on a whaling ship in the Arctic Circle while in school, which inspired him to write Captain of the Pole Star. After becoming a doctor he moved around for a bit, focusing on his practice, but also continued to write. He also left his Catholic faith and became a Spiritualist. Eventually, he gave up being a doctor and focused solely on his writing and his faith.
Sherlock Holmes and his assistant, Watson, were introduced in the novel A Study in Scarlet, which first appeared in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887. It was with this novel that Doyle's writing career finally began taking off. Sherlock Holmes, a "consulting detective" who pursued criminals in London, around England, and throughout Europe, has endured as perhaps the most noteworthy detective character of all time. In all, Doyle wrote 60 stories that featured Sherlock Holmes. Some of Doyle's most noteworthy books that include Sherlock Holmes are The Sign of Four, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, and The Hound of the Baskervilles.
In 1893, Doyle tried to kill off Holmes in the short story "The Final Problem," because he wanted to focus more on his writing on Spiritualism. His readers weren't happy—20,000 readers even canceled their subscriptions to Strand Magazine, a magazine which Sherlock Holmes stories often appeared in. Eventually, Doyle was convinced to bring Holmes back. He reintroduced him in 1901 in the novel The Hound of Baskervilles, and then brought him back to life in the story "The Adventure of the Empty House" in 1903. One of the reasons he decided to bring him back was so he could use the profits from the stories to help fund his missionary work. The final twelve Sherlock Holmes stories appeared in the 1928 compilation titled The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes.
Besides his works featuring Sherlock Holmes, Doyle wrote other books such as Beyond the City, The Stark Munro Letters, and A Duet with an Occasional Chorus, as well as a series of works on Spiritualism. He was diagnosed with Angina Pectoris towards the end of his life. On July 7, 1930, Arthur Conan Doyle died in his garden with one hand to his chest and one hand holding a flower. The stories of Sherlock Holmes have continued to have been read, and Sherlock has also lived on in theater and film adaptations of his stories. Today we celebrate both Sherlock Holmes and the author who created him!
How to Observe Sherlock Holmes Day
Celebrate the day by reading a book by Arthur Conan Doyle. It is most fitting to pick a book that has the stories of Sherlock Holmes in it. There are numerous Sherlock Holmes films that you could watch today as well. Sherlock Holmes societies are located around the world, and you could also join up with one of them!