We come back to Sherlock Holmes from time to time here on The Hornet. We were impressed with Guy Ritchie’s movie, and also with the modernised TV show with young Benedict Cumberbatch as the millennial version of the great detective.
Not everybody’s cup of tea, of course, the new chaps. They don’t fit with the perceived “classic” Holmes look. Yet flicking through the pages of A Study in Scarlet the other evening, it dawned on The Man from the Hornet that ACD gives us precious little description of our hero save that he is tall with blue eyes and has a chin that “marks the man of determination”.
He certainly never puts pen to paper to inform us: “The great detective, casting violin, pipe and syringe aside, made for the door, pausing only to don his deerstalker hat and Ulsterman cape.”
The look that we have grown to love – essentially a country look in its day – is brought into the picture by the great Sidney Paget, illustrator of the Holmes stories for The Strand magazine.
That the characters of Holmes and Watson continue to be so beloved some 124 years after their creation, is a testimony to the power of ACD’s skill and imagination.
The look associated with popular fiction’s most-filmed character inspires such devotion that devoted Sherlockians become most overheated if new versions deviate from it in even the smallest detail. That is thanks in part to Mr Paget and his illustrations (such as that above).
But it also suggest that the look is an enduring one: by turns individualistic, practical, eccentric, even fun – but always stylish. And quintessentially English. A look very much of the moment with the current proliferation of the country look in town.