Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sherlock Holmes' True Nemesis Was A Freemason

Sherlock Holmes

"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"

Sherlock Holmes
The Sign of Four (1890)

Fans of Sherlock Holmes know that Sherlock Holmes' greatest enemy was the criminal genius Professor Moriarty.  They battled to the death at the top of Reichenbach Falls in The Final Problem, which lead many to believe both men had perished over the side--however, Sherlock Holmes came back. 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Phoenix Lodge 257
 Southsea Hampshire
What few may know, is that there was actually a Freemason behind Professor Moriarty's plan to kill Sherlock Holmes.  This man had come to hate Sherlock Holmes even more than all the criminals in London combined--his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!

Sherlock Holmes first appeared in two novels A Study in Scarlet, and The Sign of Four.  They attracted some attention, but were hardly huge successes.  It wasn't until Doyle decided to serialize the character of Sherlock Holmes in short stories that he began to see success.  Unlike serialized novels, which turned many readers off because it was so easy to miss an installment, all of Doyle's stories were self-contained.  If you missed one, it didn't matter.  It wasn't long before readers were standing in line at newsstands to buy the most recent installment.  

Holmes and Moriarty battle at
Reichenbach Falls
Doyle enjoyed tremendous success as a writer, and for two years published what is considered to be the best of the Sherlock Holmes stories.  But Doyle began to have a love-hate relationship with the character he created.  He felt Holmes' success was eclipsing his own, and that the stories were low-brow and were keeping him from producing better work.  In 1893, Doyle had decided to kill off the character once and for all--and he did. 

The newspapers wrote obituaries for the fictional character.  Fans in London wore black armbands.  Doyle received hate mail, and ever increasing offers from publishers for new Sherlock Holmes stories.  But Doyle was determined, and for nine years, the famous detective remained dead.  But his writing after he killed Doyle never rose the heights Doyle had believed it would.  In 1902, Doyle brought the famous detective back when he wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles, but he made it clear that the story pre-dated Holmes' death.  A year later, however, Doyle relented, and brought the detective back to life in The Adventure of the Empty House--seems that Holmes had faked his own death at Reichenbach Falls.  Doyle wrote many more Sherlock Holmes stories until shortly before he died in 1930.

To the end, Doyle remained ambivalent towards his creation. "If I had never touched Holmes, who has tended to obscure my higher work, my position in literature would at the present moment be a more commanding one," he once said.

~TEC

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