Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

eNotated by Gayle Birrell

The eNotated The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, first published in the Strand in 1891-92, experienced a massive readership at the time. Popularity has yet to fade. We’ll always take more Sherlock. The book has become a classic of study not only by its fervent fans but by scholars, educators, scientists, writers, and dramatists for well over a century. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s portrayal of this beloved detective stands in English literature as arguably the most vivid in the history of the crime story.

The eNotated The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes appeals to audiences of multiple backgrounds. For instance:

  • The Sherlock Holmes devotee who never wearies of a fresh spin on the canon.
  • Students and teachers using Common Core principles who seek more geographical and historical context and more vigorous experience of the characters’ likes and dislikes.
  • The inquisitive reader of historic fiction who wishes to gain deeper insight into the Victorian culture.
  • The feminist searching in classic literature for ways female characters outsmarted the male-dominated establishment.
  • An active working mother, in the precious time she has to read, who can escape to a different place and time and learn something new in each short story.
  • The curious cook who delights in trying new cuisines such as the dishes Conan Doyle’s characters enjoy.
  • A young adult who finds allure in Sherlock Holmes’s bohemian lifestyle and wants to better understand the context of the character’s behavior.
  • The commuter who resolves to read more classics, loads his tablet for the bus ride to work, and wants to make his own wider connections about the story, perhaps as a jumping-off point for further research.
  • The culture hound looking for perspective between the literary, musical, and artistic realms.
  • The logic seeker probing for a dramatic archetype of deductive reasoning.
  • The avid reader of mysteries who craves a skillfully crafted story with intriguing characters.

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About Arthur Conan Doyle

Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on May 22, 1859. Doyle introduced the character of Detective Sherlock Holmes in his 1890 his novel, A Study in Scarlet. He would go on to write 60 stories about Sherlock Holmes. Doyle died of a heart attack in Crowborough, England on July 7, 1930.

To Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fans he is always the man. Devotees flock to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, over a century after its publication. Like other literary characters—think Tom Sawyer, Miss Marple, Nancy Drew, and Harry Potter—Holmes is the friend everyone wants. Millions seem to trust the quirky character Conan Doyle created more than they do many real-life experts speaking in the media today. In this way, Holmes remains relevant regardless of geography or passage of time. In a world of limitless mysteries, Sherlock Holmes offers hope that a solution is imminent. Such character gives comfort in times of inexplicable tragedies.

Gayle Birrell

About eNotator Gayle Birrell

Gayle Birrell spent her youth in the Ohio River valley country. The middle child of five, Gayle and her identical twin were referred to as The Girls by their family, which offered no distinction between she and her sister’s separate identities. “I got to navigate a twin’s rather freaky status in the world. I often felt set apart from others, which of course drove me even closer to my twin.”

The need to escape and express herself creatively became recurrent themes in Gayle’s childhood. She discovered the wonder of the printed page and immersed herself in books. Withdrawing into other peoples’ worlds brought delight, beauty, ugliness, tenderness and humor as she read about experiences that were different from her fundamentalist Christian upbringing. Like Edna, she was enchanted and mystified by people outside her sheltered realm. It seemed a natural fit that she would choose English as her major when she later attended a small liberal arts college in the Midwest.

But it was not until her twenties, when an unwise marriage—and what she wryly describes as the gift and curse of motherhood—created a series of painful events that led to Gayle’s own awakening: the emergence of her authentic self. She realized what qualities she wanted in her life—beauty, kindness, joy and generosity—and began to surround herself with nurturing influences.

Over the years, despite repeating a daily mantra of “grace and gratitude,” things haven’t always gone so well. That’s when Gayle reminds herself, “My idealistically cynical eyes give me a perspective that doesn’t always reveal what I expect. But I’ll still keep my Groucho glasses stashed in the glove compartment of my Beetle!”

Gayle remains faithful to the great loves that sustain her—her husband and creative expression. Today, she and her husband divide their time between city life and their live-aboard sailboat on the Salish Sea. When people ask her, “What do you do?” she knows just what to tell them: “Follow my heart.”