We can probably all agree upon the iconic feature of Sherlock Holmes. His wardrobe and accessories are iconic: the Inverness cape, deerstalker hat, and calabash pipe, and figures such as his best friend and housemate Doctor Watson, arch-nemesis Moriarty, and housekeeper Mrs. Hudson have become part of the popular consciousness, as have his extraordinary, infallible powers of deduction utilized in the name of the law, his notorious drug use, and his popular catchphrase, “Elementary, my dear Watson.” And yet many of these most recognizable features of Holmes don’t appear in Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories.
Doyle’s great detective solves crimes in all sorts of ways, not just using deduction. He speculates, and at times even guesses, and regularly makes false assumptions. Furthermore, Mrs. Hudson is barely mentioned, no one says, “Elementary, my dear Watson,” and the detective and his sidekick live apart for much of the time. Moriarty, the grand villain, only appears in two stories, the detective’s drug use is infrequent after the first two novels, and Holmes is rarely enthralled to the English legal system; he much prefers enacting his own form of natural justice to sticking to the letter of the law. Finally, many of the most iconic elements of the Holmesian legend aren’t Doyle’s either. The deerstalker cap and cape were first imagined by Sidney Paget, the story’s initial illustrator, the curved pipe was chosen by American actor William Gillette so that audiences could more clearly see his face on stage, and the phrase, “Elementary, my dear Watson,” was coined by author and humorist P.G. Wodehouse.