| A Study in Scarlet |
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
|"Mr Sherlock Holmes" by Dr Joseph Bell|
As it is in A Study in Scarlet that Mr Sherlock Holmes is first introduced to the public, and his methods of work described, it occurred to the publishers of the volume that a paper on "Sherlock Holmes", which Dr Doyle's old master, Dr Joseph Bell, the original of Sherlock Holmes, contributed recently to The Bookman, would greatly interest readers who did not see it when it appeared in that publication.
Dr Bell's "intuitive powers" in dealing with his patients were, so his pupil, Dr Doyle, tells us in the pages of The Strand Magazine "simply marvellous". Case No. I would step up.
"'I see,' said Mr Bell, 'you're suffering from drink: You even carry a flask in the inside breast pocket of your coat.'
"Another case would come forward.
"'Cobbler, I see.' Then he would turn to the students, and point out to them that the inside of the knee, of the man's trousers was worn. That was where the man had rested the lapstone — a peculiarity only found in cobblers.
"All this impressed me very much. He was continually before me — his sharp, piercing eyes, eagle nose, and striking features. There he would sit in his chair with fingers together — he was very dexterous with his hands — and just look at the man or woman before him. He was most kind and painstaking with the students — a real good friend — and when I took my degree and went to Africa the remarkable individuality and discriminating tact of my old master made a deep and lasting impression on me, though I had not the faintest idea that it would one day lead me to forsake medicine for story-writing."
That it did lead Dr Doyle "to forsake medicine for story-writing", and with what result, every one knows. And as Mr Sherlock Holmes has now become a household word and almost a public institution, the publishers of A Study in Scarlet hope that the following paper, in which some particulars of Dr Doyle's early education and training, and of the circumstances which led him to form the habit of making careful observations, will prove of interest to his many readers. Their cordial thanks are due to Dr Doyle, Dr Bell, and to the editor and proprietors of The Bookman, for courteously consenting to the reproduction of the paper.