Sherlock Holmes is one of the most famous fictional characters of all time.
The cool detective won over the world with his razor-sharp wit and staggering insights into the human psyche.
His distinctive charm, complete with the magnifying glass and borderline superpowers, has thrilled us over the years.
He has been in books, comics, plays, movies and tv shows. Pop culture always has a place for him.
But did you think that the most famous detective ever was born from just a fragment of imagination?
Nope. His creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, had pretty solid, real-life inspiration.
The inspiration’s name was Dr Joseph Bell, a physician and lecturer at the medical school of the University of Edinburgh.
Back in 1877, Doyle was a student at the university. He was immediately mesmerised by Dr Bell’s lectures.
The popular professor’s classes were fascinating and captivating. Doyle was totally hooked.
Bell was known for his legendary deductive abilities and power of observation.
He could tell a stranger’s profession or what he/she had done recently just by looking at them from a distance during a diagnosis.
He could study body language, appearances and habits in a jiffy, giving the correct feedback and facts, leaving onlookers in awe and shock.
He could recognise an Army man from the way he walked or a labourer from the condition of his hands.
He was almost never wrong. It felt like magic. But it was all very real.
In fact, Dr Bell’s attention to detail was astonishing. That’s what did the trick for him. Nothing escaped his eyes.
He always told his students that keen observation played a very integral role in the right diagnosis. Otherwise the case was lost.
Then came Doyle’s golden opportunity of observing the master of observation up front. Bell personally picked Doyle as one of his 'clerks'. Doyle's dream to assist his idol came true.
Now, Doyle could freely and closely watch his prolific mentor with patients.
And he made the most of it.
Doyle spent many years under Bell's guidance. In the meanwhile, Sherlock Holmes was brewing in his mind.
Doyle’s brainchild was in the making; he gathered more tips on how to build the ambitious creation - the man who can solve any mystery. Every case Bell cracked gave him a new idea.
He has publicly confirmed it. He once said in an interview, as mentioned in a biography, “Sherlock Holmes is the literary embodiment, if I may so express it, of my memory of a professor of medicine at Edinburgh University.”
He even confessed the truth to Dr Bell.
Doyle once wrote to Bell:
“It is most certainly to you that I owe Sherlock Holmes ... round the centre of deduction and inference and observation which I have heard you inculcate I have tried to build up a man.”
Then Bell wrote to Doyle:
“You are yourself Sherlock Holmes and well you know it.”
Confused? So am I. I guess these two geniuses had their own mutual understanding situation.
I’d say go figure but not all of us can be Sherlock Holmes now, can we?