Most people today know who Arthur Conan Doyle was, even if they have not read any of his works. In Sherlock Holmes, he created one of the most celebrated fictional detectives of all time. Sherlock Holmes had become so famous that when, in 1893, A C Doyle killed the character of Sherlock Holmes, the Strand Magazine – which printed the Sherlock Holmes stories – lost thousands of subscribers.
One may, therefore, wonder, why did A C Doyle kill Sherlock Holmes – the character that won him a place in the hearts of millions of people across the boundaries of space and time.
This may come as a surprise to many, but A C Doyle never considered Sherlock Holmes to be his most “important” work. In fact, he had grown very weary of Holmes, and wanted to devote more time to writing historical novels.
So, to rid himself of Holmes, he decided to kill him in his story, “The Adventure of the Final Problem.”
Subsequently, however, A C Doyle had to bow to the pressure of the huge fan following Sherlock Holmes had garnered, and he had to bring Sherlock Homes back. The public loved the revival of Sherlock Holmes, and A C Doyle continued to write about Sherlock Holmes for many more years.
The question that needs to be asked then is, “Was A C Doyle wrong in killing Sherlock Holmes?”
I think he was.
I think most people tend to discard what comes easily to them, simply because it has come easily. This is true for creative people too. A painter who can draw excellent portraits may feel that it is painting landscapes that makes one a real artist, while painting faces is something that anyone can do.
To overcome this feeling, an individual must be able to look at his work objectively, which is, of course, not an easy thing to do. He must, however, do it so that he knows what he does best, and thus continues to do that.
This is not to say that a creative individual must not pursue other interests. If A C Doyle wanted to write historical novels, he should have definitely done that – as he did too– but he should not have killed Holmes, because that resulted in almost eight years of no Holmes stories.
Who knows, maybe, because of these eight years of no Sherlock Holmes stories, the best Sherlock Holmes stories never got written?