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Holmes, Sherlock. Sherlock Holmes was created by Arthur Conan Doyle (Professor Challenger, Brigadier Gerard) and appeared in sixty stories and story serials from 1887 to 1927, beginning with “A Study in Scarlet” (Beeton’s Christmas Annual, 1887). Unauthorized sequels starring Holmes appeared by the thousands around the world beginning in the 1890s.

Sherlock Holmes is a Great Detective. He is a consulting detective, operating from his flat on Baker Street in London. Assisted by his friend and the narrator of his stories, Doctor Watson, Holmes is active in London and across England, solving a wide variety of crimes and hiring himself out to a range of clients. Holmes’ main police contact is Inspector Lestrade, who is Scotland Yard’s best, but nowhere near as good as Holmes, something Holmes is well aware of and which he sometimes reminds Lestrade of. Holmes’ arch-enemy is Professor Moriarty, although their lone encounter results in his death. (Holmes gets better). A rare setback for Holmes comes from the formidable Irene Adler, the only woman who the misogynist Holmes has respect for and a woman who might have been Holmes’ Loving Enemy but for the fact that she respects Holmes but feels no romantic attraction to him.

* I'm including the Sherlock Holmes stories and novel in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because they are archetypal, historically important, and fun. Historically, the Holmes stories changed both detective fiction (by boosting its popularity beyond anything anyone could have hoped for) and short stories (by becoming so popular that authors began deliberately crafting short story series about their fictional heroes rather than aiming directly at the hardcover market). Holmes almost immediately became the archetypal detective, the Great Detective who hundreds (perhaps thousands) of authors imitated and modeled their heroes upon. And the Holmes stories are fun to read. Holmes himself may be, as Raymond Chandler once wrote, mostly an attitude and a few dozen unforgettable lines, but Doyle was a skilled enough professional writer that he made even the lesser Holmes stories good reading. 

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