BONUS MATERIALS: Sherlock's Last Case


Welcome to the Bonus Materials section for the Colony's production of Sherlock's Last Case! To help you enjoy the rich background of the play, the Colony has compiled some historical information and trivia. Enjoy!


Some Sherlock Fun Facts

  • The first Sherlock Holmes story A Study in Scarlet was published in 1887. Conan Doyle was paid 25 pounds for it.
  • The American publishing firm J. B. Lippincott likely saved Sherlock from a premature end by commissioning Conan Doyle to write The Sign of the Four, the second Holmes – Watson tale, in 1889.
  • In December of 1893, Arthur Conan Doyle finished off Sherlock Holmes in the Story entitled The Final Problem, the tale that had Holmes and his nemesis, the evil genius Professor Moriarty, plummeting together in a death struggle over Switzerland’s Reichenbach falls. In a diary entry soon after, Conan Doyle wrote, with brutal sympathy: “Killed Holmes.” He resisted the public’s demands for more Holmes tales for nearly a decade, but finally relented and brought Holmes back in 1903 in The Adventure of the Empty House. It was explained that he escaped the death plunge and had hidden out for several years.
  • In all, Conan Doyle wrote roughly 60 Sherlock Holmes adventure tales.
  • The famous deerstalker cap worn by Holmes does not appear in any of the stories. It was the invention of artist Sidney Paget, who illustrated the stories for The Strand magazine.
  • The curved meerschaum pipe, intimately identified with Holmes, was the addition of American stage actor William Gillette, who played the part some 1,300 times between 1899 and 1935. He used the pipe so his voice was more audible.
  • Dr Watson is neither corpulent or an ineffectual bumbler in any of the stories. He is described as “a middle-sized, strongly built man – square jaw, thick neck, a moustache.”
  • It is the interpretation of character actor Nigel Bruce in 13 Universal features starring Basil Rathbone that have cemented an inaccurate portrait of Watson in many people’s minds.
  • The stories without Watson, or in which he plays a minor role, are thought to be more arid, lacking in humanity and untempered by Holmes’s shameless narcissism.
  • Holmes and Watson have survived outside of the fictive context that had first given them life, they are often referred to and are recognized as real people, not characters. The world reacted to the death of Sherlock Holmes in The Final Problem with horror and shock. Men and women in London wore black armbands and veils, and Conan Doyle received letters of protest and sorrow from around the world begging him to return Holmes to life. One devastated reader began her entreaty with this salutation: “You Brute.”
  • Conan Doyle received numerous letters throughout his life addressed to the great detective seeking help with the solution of a knotty problem. A press-clipping bureau wrote to Watson in care of Conan Doyle, asking if Mr. Holmes might wish to subscribe to their services. When Conan Doyle finally retired Holmes, a number of elderly women wrote him offering to keep house for Sherlock. The London post office, to this day, still receives letters addressed to SH to 221b Baker Street.
  • Many scholars believe the Holmes – Watson relationship is the most timeless and symbiotic in all of literature.


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