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Who IS Sherlock Holmes? - Neil McCaw

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More than a century after first emerging into the fogbound, gaslit streets of Victorian London, Sherlock Holmes is universally recognizable. And yet many of his most recognizable features don't appear in Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories. So who exactly is Sherlock Holmes? Who's the real "great detective," and where do we find him? Neil McCaw traces the evolution of Sherlock.

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Neil McCaw
  • Director Lasse Rützou Bruntse
  • Sound Designer Tobias Dahl Nielsen
  • Composer Stephen LaRosa
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

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Additional Resources for you to Explore
The first Sherlock Holmes tales started appearing in 1887. See this video to hear their creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, explaining why he created Sherlock in the first place.

However, Sherlock Holmes was not the first fictional detective.  Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Émile Gaboriau had all created detectives of their own before Conan Doyle was writing. Here are some sources for those who are interested in early forms of detective fiction.

But the global interest in Sherlock Holmes goes far beyond Doyle’s 56 short stories and 4 novels. Here are just two examples of this global interest.

There have been hundreds of other writers who have created new Holmes adventures on film, TV, radio, and stage.  More recently there have been Sherlock Holmes computer games as well as hundreds of fiction titles where modern writers have extended the legend of the great detective. There are several museum and library collections of such material, including: The Conan Doyle Collection, The University of Minnesota Sherlock Holmes Collection, and the Toronto Public Library Arthur Conan Doyle Collection.

Across the world, people admire Sherlock Holmes for numerous reasons. Some are fascinated by the world of the English Victorians. Some are fascinated by scientific and forensic developments. Some are impressed by the use of reason and the rationale to understand the world around them. And others simply admire the figure of the hero who works to save us all from evil. Further information about Sherlock in his nineteenth-century context can be found at the Victorian Web and Victorian Resources online.


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TED-Ed Animation lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Neil McCaw
  • Director Lasse Rützou Bruntse
  • Sound Designer Tobias Dahl Nielsen
  • Composer Stephen LaRosa
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

Share

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