Thursday, April 18, 2019

Will The Real Sherlock Holmes Please Stand Up!

Sherlock Holmes, Book, PatternSherlock Holmes, a man with the uncanny ability to sniff out the truth when its buried under a layer of misdirects, red herrings, and a lack of knowledge.

Besides the books, there have been multiple movies, a radio show or two, a couple of series, and an occasional visit to other series such as Fantasy Island and Star Trek.

As most everyone knows, Sherlock Holmes is fictional character created by Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle but are you aware the detective was modeled on a real life person?

Conan-Doyle based Sherlock on Dr Joseph Bell,  a well known forensic scientist who worked at Edinburgh University.  Conan-Doyle studied under Dr. Bell while studying for his medical degree.  It was while a student, Sir Conan-Doyle got to see Dr Bell in action.

Dr Bell would often impress students by determining a person's occupation and other details just by looking at his appearance and observing his mannerisms.  In addition, Conan-Doyle worked as a clerk for Dr Bell, so he was able to observe Dr Bell using his observational powers for diagnostic reasons.

Dr Joseph Bell was born on December 2, 1837 in Edinburgh, Scotland.  He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh Medical School and received his degree in 1859.  As a student, he was extremely bright and even delivered a dissertation to the Royal Medical Society which they still have in their possession today.

His interest in medicine came naturally because his great - grandfather, Dr Benjamin Bell, practiced modern forensic surgery and is classified as a physician who practiced scientifically.  It is said Dr Joseph Bell inherited Dr Benjamin Bell's eye for detail.

At various points in his career, he acted as personal physician to Queen Victoria whenever she was in Scotland, wrote several medical textbooks, and became head of the Royal Physicians College in Edinburgh in 1887. Furthermore, he would lecture publicly on a regular basis impressing the average person because he could tell where a sailer sailed based on his tattoos, a person's place of birth based on his accent and word choice, or a person's line of work from their hands.

Dr Bell and Sir Conan-Doyle met in 1877 when Doyle went to medical school there.  Due to the work they did together, Doyle was able to observe Bell and if Bell was Sherlock Holmes, Doyle was his Watson.  Doyle wrote of how Dr Bell would look at a patient, ask a series of questions based on his observations before making conclusions.

In addition to working with Dr Bell, it appears he took Dr Bell's style of a long coat with deerstalker hat and clothed Sherlock in the same outfit.  Doyle even wrote Dr Bell a short letter thanking him and admitting the Doctor's influence on the character.  Dr Bell died in 1911.

So now you know more about the real man who influenced Sir Conan-Doyle's creation of Sherlock Holmes.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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