A pub at Thessaloniki
Writing is sometimes a self-effacing and even a self-erasing art. The most successful fictional character is one that is better known than its author. In extreme cases, the character becomes so real to its fans that the author is totally forgotten. This is what happened to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes.
At the 1940 dinner of the Baker Street Irregulars, Denis Conan Doyle was dismayed that members of the club were talking about Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson and other characters in the series as if they knew them personally. Even more intriguing, his father’s name was not even mentioned once. An amazing amount of effort has also been put into “recreating” 221B Baker Street. There are museums all over Europe that attempt to “recreate” Sherlock Holmes’ lodging which he was supposed to have shared with another fictional character, Dr Watson.
Treating it like history, some fans of Sherlock Holmes (or should we say Sir Arthur) dug into every detail in Sir Arthur’s works to “recreate” the room as if it actually existed.
The amount of attention paid to the author’s actual residence pales in comparison. Sherlock Holmes had stepped out of the pages into the real world. Its creator has retreated into the background. Is this the outcome of superb characterisation?
“No other writer, not even Shakespeare can boast of creating a character so vivid that people believe in the character rather than the author.” – Edgar W. Smith
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