Can you guess how many Sherlock Holmes characters there are in total?
Take a potshot. Here are 4 options:
Come on - do take a guess before you move on.
Ready with your answer? Here's the correct one.
Based on my last count, there are 506 'named' characters in the Sherlock Holmes novels and stories who are related to the case.
And mind you, I haven't included a lot of characters - the ones that aren't connected with the case.
Wow. I mean 506 is a lot.
This includes 35 inspectors and detectives, 14 constables, 51 clients, 66 villains, 14 special agents and (hold your breath) - 326 other miscellaneous, important characters connected with the cases. Ahem!
Take a peek at the pie chart below for some 'stats' fun.
Now it would require an encyclopedia-like book to delve into each of these 506 characters.
So, I'll explore 15 Sherlock Holmes characters out of these hundreds in detail.
Even if you haven't read all the original stories, you must have heard about atleast 5-6 out of these 15.
I've arranged these characters in the order of what I call character strength - how important these characters are.
So let's begin and explore each of these 15 fascinating people!
Watson is really important - I mean - so important that it's tough to find a person who's heard of Sherlock Holmes but not about Watson. They're almost always together.
Watson narrates 56 out of the 60 Sherlock Holmes stories and novels - so he's also the guy who you get to know best.
He's quite a mild guy - a devoted friend who follows Sherlock Holmes around everywhere. And that mildness is good because he puts all the spotlight on Holmes' mind-blowing deductions and actions - while he himself is almost invisible.
He's an excellent listener too - and that's good because you wouldn't want a narrator who interrupts good old Holmes with his observations again and again.
What else do we know about him?
Well, he received his medical degree from the University of London. Then, he served as an army man who served in the Second Anglo-Afghan War in Afghanistan.
He was hit by a bullet in the war and sent home to London.
When he's not running around investigating cases, he's an excellent doctor who however doesn't get many patients.
He falls for a sweet, composed woman in The Sign of Four called 'Mary Morstan' and marries her.
He is a bit dumb at times in contrast to Holmes' superb sharpness.
And yup - he's crazy about Sherlock Holmes and his cases.
He loves adventure and he's prepared to do anything - absolutely anything - as long as he gets to be with Holmes in his adventures!
In The Devil's Foot, he's almost ready to die, in Charles Augustus Milverton, he's ready to burgle a house and in The Three Garridebs he even gets shot!
So you know - this Watson dude, however ordinary he may appear - is not just any other guy - special.
Agreed that he's not an insightful leader and he's not a 'my way or the highway' sort of guy. But then he takes love for adventure and devotion for a friend to a brand new level.
Here's an illuminating quote about what Sherlock Holmes thinks of Watson:
My final words for Dr. Watson? In your own way, you rock dude!
Overall Character Strength: 8.75/10
Watson maybe mild and humble, but he's quite a ladies man!
Take a peek at what Sherlock Holmes says about Watson's 'natural talents':
And Watson himself hints at his luck with the ladies in The Sign of Four:
Ahem. Experience of women in three continents! Watson isn't exactly as dumb as he may want you to think he is.
Interesting hidden facet of Watson's character, isn't it?
Imagine a crafty, foxy villain who is responsible for every major crime in London - but is never caught or even suspected.
Now multiply the intelligence you've imagined by ten. That should bring you close to who Prof. Moriarty is.
Murders - check.
Burglaries - check.
You name it and Moriarty and his gang will do it. To top it, it will be such a clean job that people will laugh if you even think of Moriarty in connection with the act.
He's basically like a warlord who oversees all the criminal activities of London.
As Sherlock Holmes himself puts it:
What else do we know about Moriarty?
He's got a brother called Colonel James Moriarty.
He's incomparable in pure Mathematics.
He's the author of a treatise on the binomial theorem and The Dynamics of an Asteroid - a book that hardly any scientist can understand! With all this Mathematical acumen, he's obviously worked as a professor at an English university.
Moriarty's incredibly rich. I mean he owns a painting worth £ 40,000 (around £ 3 million today) by Jean-Baptiste Greuze - so you get the point.
And yes - Sherlock Holmes pushes him down the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland to kill him - after almost dying himself!
This is one act that has made Moriarty almost as famous as Sherlock Holmes. After all - no one pushes Holmes as close to death as Moriarty.
Take a peek at this interesting video of Reichenbach falls today.
The crux is that this Moriarty dude is Sherlock Holmes' clone on the other side of the law.
He's uber-cool but he uses his powers to destroy and usurp - the typical super-villain.
As Sherlock Holmes says:
For all his coolness though, Moriarty dominates only two Sherlock Holmes stories - The Final Problem and The Valley of Fear.
His conversation with Sherlock Holmes is quite fascinating in The Final Problem. Take a peek:
When I read that, I was like - 'Wow. Now that's an interesting conversation between two geniuses.'
No time wasted. ;-)
Prof. Moriarty has been portrayed in 54 different TV series and movies according to IMDB.
Now, if you think that isn't much - don't forget that he's appeared prominently in just one short story and one novel. Considering that - 54 is quite some number.
And it's not 54 episodes - it is 54 different TV shows and movies.
That's Frank Keenan (early 1900s) on the left. Then there's Eric Porter (in the Granada series in the 1980s). On the right there's Jared Harris at the bottom (in the movie Sherlock Holmes - A Game of Shadows) and at the top there's BBC Sherlock's Andrew Scott.
If you've seen absolutely any adaptation of Sherlock Holmes on screen, you've seen Irene Adler.
Apparently, she is supposed to be Sherlock Holmes' girlfriend. In the original stories though, she isn't his girlfriend - in fact she's married to another man!
The truth is: Sherlock Holmes respects her intellect and her mental keenness a lot and that's it.
Imagine how you would feel if you were a world champion in - say chess.
No one has been able to defeat you. Now, suddenly, in comes this woman who makes the most innovative moves and snatches a chess match from under your nose. How will you feel towards her?
That is exactly how Sherlock Holmes feels towards Irene Adler. It isn't love, it is admiration born out of this thought: Wow. This woman was cool. She totally stumped me.
And how does she stump him?
Well, in A Scandal in Bohemia, Sherlock Holmes needs to recover a compromising photograph from Adler. He lays an elaborate plan that involves - 2 sets of disguises, bribing people, a fire alarm...
He's happy about his plan. He thinks he's rocked it.
Then the blow falls.
Irene Adler figures it all out. She turns the case on its head. She returns the photograph and says something to this effect: "Well tried, Sherlock Holmes. But I saw through your strategem."
Irene Adler definitely matches Holmes' intellectual prowess and observation skills.
What else do we know about Irene Adler?
Well, before she'd said 'Hello' to Sherlock Holmes, she used to be an accomplished singer at the La Scala Opera House in Milan, Italy. She was also the prime performer at the Imperial Opera in Warsaw, Poland.
Ah - and apparently, she was also an adventuress - sort of like a courtesan...
This quote by Watson about how Sherlock Holmes changed after his tryst with Irene Adler sums it up:
Irene Adler never - that's right - never - meets Sherlock Holmes face to face when he's in his normal dress.
He's always disguised whenever he speaks to her face to face.
Ironical isn't it - that the woman linked with Sherlock Holmes in every other adaptation today doesn't even have one face to face conversation with him without disguise!
If I had to use one word to describe Sherlock Holmes' brother - Mycroft, it would be idiosyncratic.
A simpler word? I'll go with weird.
If I had upto 140 characters to describe him, I would say:
That pretty much sums up Mycroft Holmes.
He's basically a very intelligent man who can deduce the deuce out of anyone.
But - he's incredibly lazy and not ambitious, so he prefers to not be a detective.
Mycroft is vital for the British Government.
That's because he alone can analyze all the information there is and make high-level decisions using tons of different parameters.
It's like you feed him everything possible - Britain's China policy, Britain's stand on bla bla bla, The British Premier's visit to Vienna last year, the famine in Western Romania, the ....... - and he will mix and blend all the data and tell you:
This is what Britain's stand at the coming Geneva Convention should be.
Basically, he makes the Government's job easier because they don't need to have crazy meetings upon meetings - one button press - and our Mycroft dude's cranium will churn out their policy answers.
He is cool.
What else do we know about Mycroft?
Well, he's a member of this eccentric club called The Diogenes Club - a club where asocial people go to not talk and be left alone.
He draws a salary of £450 (around £ 44,000 these days) a year.
He's a bit boring: He follows the same schedule every single day. No change.
Let's end with another titbit about him: He's 7 years older than Sherlock Holmes. That means that he was born in 1847. Quite a long time ago...
These dates in the Sherlock Holmes stories do give me the jitters sometimes.
Mycroft Holmes is the only man who calls Sherlock Holmes 'Sherlock' in the original stories. The others call him Mr. Holmes or Holmes.
Of course, if these stories were written in these days, almost everyone would call him Sherlock - but apparently, in those days - people used last names - even with friends.
Mycroft of course, couldn't call him Mr. Holmes. That would be funny because he would himself be Mr. Holmes.
Inspector Lestrade is the most popular policeman in the Sherlock Holmes stories.
He's the guy from Scotland Yard who either brings cases to Holmes or works with him on 13 different cases - that's more than any other inspector.
Another fun piece of trivia: His name appears 244 times in the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels - the highest for any member of the police force.
Watson says that Lestrade is a ferret-like man, he's rat faced, sly looking... The description is quite funny, if not insulting ;-)
What else do we know about Lestrade?
Well, we know that he's tenacious as a bulldog - but he can't deduce stuff from the facts he sees. He sort of lacks 'imagination' in Holmes' words.
He's like this conventional hard-working policeman who's risen to high ranks by sheer grit - without any deduction abilities.
In the beginning of the stories, Lestrade has an attitude like this towards Sherlock Holmes:
This Holmes guy is just a dreamer. I'm the cool dude - practical guy. (Not his words, but these might've been his thoughts.)
As Sherlock Holmes stumps him in a couple of stories, he finally gets it that Sherlock Holmes is sort of right despite being theoretical.
His attitude becomes something like this:
Yup. Sherlock Holmes rocks. His theories make sense. I'd rather learn from him than be jealous of him.
Of course, Sherlock Holmes keeps giving Lestrade the credit for the case - that must help in this change of attitude. I mean, if a guy said - I'll solve the case - you take the credit - won't you feel a bit nice towards him? Holmes does that all the time with Lestrade.
While Lestrade and Holmes are never best buddies, there is however one moment when Sherlock Holmes is actually touched by Lestrade's words.
Let's end with that emotional conversation - the 'only' one - between Holmes and Inspector Lestrade.
Here it is, from The Six Napoleons:
Lestrade finally gets it. Holmes rocks and it's OK to accept that.
According to this book, Arthur Conan Doyle named Inspector Lestrade that way based on his medical school acquaintance - Joseph Alexandre Lestrade. This guy was apparently two years Doyle's junior at the University of Edinburgh.
He's the typical right hand man to the evil Prof. Moriarty.
Not surprising then, that Sherlock Holmes calls him 'The second most dangerous man in London.'
Sebastian Moran is a stunning shooter. Combine that with unnerving nerve - and you can get a decent picture of him.
He even went after a man-eating tiger once - I mean really pursued it. Grr.
He was a soldier in India once, but apparently that career option wasn't giving his evil urges enough of an outlet.
He wanted to do something - you know - really evil.
Prof. Moriarty is like this mentor kind of guy who says, 'OK, let's channelize your evil urges.'
He makes him shoot people. And pays him crazy money for it. £ 6000 a year to be precise (That's more than £ 580,000 today!)
What else do we know about him?
Well, he's written a couple 'a books about his forest adventures. He plays cards. A lot.
And yes: he once tries to shoot Sherlock Holmes. That's what leads to his arrest in The Empty House.
But come on - a murder attempt on Holmes that comes very close - you need to remember this guy.
The crux? He's basically an animal-hunter turned human-hunter. Not the sort of guy you'd really like to know. But mind-blowing when it comes to shooting.
Guess where Sebastian Moran was educated?
At both Eton and Oxford. If you're not aware, well Eton is one of Britain's oldest and best boarding schools. It's educated 19 Brtish Prime Ministers. And the University of Oxford - it's educated 26 British Prime Ministers.
I know - this is embarrassing. The fact that this Sebastian sadist dude turns out to be from these reputed places.
There are ordinary blackmailers.
And then there's Charles Augustus Milverton. There's a difference.
Ordinary blackmailers do their job because they're lazy and want to mint easy money. This Milverton dude does it because he enjoys it in an devilish way. He runs a corporate style blackmailing mini-empire.
And how does he get to know those devastating secrets? Well, he pays footmen, valets, maids, and other servants.
Just like we might check our social media pages to see what's new, I can imagine this guy calling up prominent 'servant class' members saying, "So, anything juicy these days?"
Quite - diabolical.
Sherlock Holmes sums it up when he says:
So how does this vicious dude from Hampstead end up on Sherlock Holmes' radar?
Well, there's this woman Eva Brackwell - and Milverton has some compromising letters from her to her ex-flame. She approaches Holmes to help her and Holmes decides to burgle Milverton's house!
Now I know this Milverton guy is evil - but I must say one thing here: I do believe in honesty - especially with your spouse. People like Milverton thrive on fear, you see. But what if you stop being afraid and just tell the truth: 'Yup, I had that one night stand.'
I know it's tough - but it's much better in the long run.
Of course, Milverton's so called 'secrets' wouldn't even matter much in today's time. I mean, come on: would you really stop dating a girl because she had an ex-boyfriend once?
Charles Augustus Milverton demands 7000 pounds from Sherlock Holmes in return for the compromising letter that he has.
My doubt was: how much is that today?
Turns out that it's around a whopping £ 678,000 today. Wow. more than £ 600,000 for a letter!
Mary Morstan is Dr. Watson's wife.
Some people say she's his second wife. Some people say she is his first wife.
We really can't be sure because nothing is mentioned in the Sherlock Holmes stories!
She's basically this client who approaches Sherlock Holmes to clear up the mystery of her missing father. And some pearls she keeps receiving.
Holmes, Mary Morstan and Watson set out to figure out a solution to her problem in The Sign of Four. It's quite a stressful treasure hunt - they encounter a crazy guy, a murder and plenty of dead ends.
But Mary Morstan handles herself quite well throughout the adventure.
She doesn't become hysterical and scream.
She doesn't become upset and demand attention from everyone.
She is also not money-minded - she isn't very affected even when she doesn't get her share of a certain treasure.
She is calm and composed and makes Watson fall in love with her :-)
Mary's also quite compassionate and sensitive to others' feelings. When there's a murder in the house, she takes good care of the terrified house-keeper.
Honestly speaking, I think Mary Morstan is shown to be a bit ideal -especially after marriage. She always happily sends Watson off with Sherlock Holmes whether it's morning or night.
I mean I know that's a nice thing for us - the readers. But - can you imagine your wife always saying to you, "Have an awesome time, love!" - if you keep disappearing with your buddy ever so often?
Most probably, your wife will say, "What about your share of the housework, honey?"
Or maybe, "How about spending time with me instead of that Holmes dude for a change?" ;-)
Well, well. I am not complaining. If Mary's happy sending Watson off, I'm happy too.
Let's end with a mushy-mushy quote about Watson and Mary from The Sign of Four:
It's not just Watson who admires Mary Morstan, Sherlock Holmes thinks she's cool too.
He even thinks she could have made a great assistant detective!
Holmes says this at the end of The Sign of Four:
Mrs. Hudson is Sherlock Holmes' landlady but she's also his housekeeper, assistant, fan, sometimes servant...
The truth is: she does a lot more for Sherlock Holmes than any landlady can be expected to do today. Even if in those days landladies did provide food to lodgers sometimes, still, this woman tolerates a lot of Holmes' idiosyncrasies.
She's OK with Sherlock Holmes smoking away to glory all night.
She's OK with guests coming in and out of the apartment any time in the day - from a bunch of street urchins to the King of Bohemia.
She's OK with him playing his violin at inhuman hours.
She's OK with Sherlock Holmes keeping his apartment astonishingly untidy (tobacco in his Persian slipper?). She's also OK with his outrageous chemical experiments!
She's OK with having a lodger who may be shot anytime (and having her wall shot by assailants).
And - she's OK with him shooting and making a V.R. pattern on her walls.
If Mrs. Hudson isn't strikingly tolerant, who is?
Why does she do this?
Watson gives two reasons: She's fond of Sherlock Holmes because of his good manners and courtesy and he pays a staggering amount of rent.
In any case, she still deserves some claps because apart from all those things above - she risks her life to adjust Holmes' dummy in The Empty House. This dummy is being shot at by Sherlock Holmes' enemies...
And did I mention that she cooks delicious food? Well, she does.
As Watson says in Black Peter:
What else do we know about Mrs. Hudson?
Not much but for the fact that she obviously does get irritated by Holmes' ways sometimes. Her fondness and the rent however, make her happily endure the trouble.
She even cries when Holmes is apparently very ill in The Dying Detective.
A unique landlady indeed.
These days, we hear more about Irene Adler in the media than Mrs. Hudson, right (especially in the movies on Holmes)?
Well, it's interesting to note that Mrs. Hudson's' name is mentioned many more times than Irene Adler in the original stories and novels.
While 'Mrs. Hudson' appears 32 times, Irene 'Adler' just appears 19 times.
Just in case you are curious, Sherlock Holmes' name appears 3047 times. Ahem :-)
Inspector MacDonald is a Scotland Yard Inspector who appears in exactly one Sherlock Holmes novel.
Yet - he's important - because he predominates The Valley of Fear. The Valley of Fear wouldn't be the same without him.
So who is he?
Well, for starters, he's from Scotland. He's a strong man who's also reasonably intelligent. He's tall and bony and has a unique Aberdonian accent (Aberdeen is a place in Scotland).
Watson says that this MacDonald dude eventually rises to the top of the police force. During The Valley of Fear though, he's a young fan of Sherlock Holmes who knows and happily accepts that Holmes is too good for him.
He's happy to come up to Holmes and say stuff similar to, "Please help us. We can't figure out a thing."
I've been inspired by the picture drawn by Frank Wiles for The Strand Magazine in 1914-1915
Just like other inspectors in Sherlock Holmes stories, MacDonald's hard-working but isn't very good at thinking out of the box.
However, unlike the others, I think he's a tad bit more enthusiastic and excited at times.
He's not exactly like 'I'll act like I am a serious inspector.' He's a bit emotional at times.
Here's a list of interesting things he says when he's happy or sad or irritated:
Here's my final word on Inspector Macdonald: He may not appear in 13 stories like Inspector Lestrade, but while he's there, he's fun!
If you think Inspector MacDonald is some really minor character who's just gotten into this list by chance - well, nope - that's not true!
Look at these names once:
Take a guess about whose name appears the maximum number of times in the original stories.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen - Inspector MacDonald's name is mentioned more times than each of these characters!
Inspector Baynes appears in just one Sherlock Holmes story - The Wisteria Lodge.
Yet, he's one chap I just had to mention.
Reason? He's extraordinarily observant compared to other inspectors. For example, he extracts a tiny scrap of paper from a mystery scene - that too from the fire place. He even deduces loads of things from that scrap of paper.
And - he has the rare honour of solving a case at almost the same time, following almost the same method as Holmes.
I mean - all the other inspectors are like, "Ah, why couldn't we think of that!" - when Holmes solves the case.
This one thinks like Holmes and solves the case with him.
In fact, during the case, he even arrests the wrong man knowingly to confuse everyone and to make the real culprit feel secure. Now that's the kind of method Sherlock Holmes would use.
No wonder then that he's almost the only inspector whom Sherlock Holmes praises to this extent.
Apart from that cool quote above, Sherlock Holmes also says:
This is the fat and puffy guy with a red face we've been talking about:
Arthur Twidle was the guy who first drew this picture in the Strand Magazine in 1908.
For every other inspector, Sherlock Holmes' words are similar to: He's brave or tenacious or hard-working...
Inspector Baynes is the only police guy with whom Sherlock Holmes associates the word 'intuition.'
Generally, Holmes is like 'I have imagination and intuition - all these police guys are robots.' With Baynes, however, he thinks, 'Ah, so this guy can atleast compare with me in intuition and imagination.'
Intuition, by the way is Sherlock Holmes' way of saying 'thinking outside the box.'
Tobias Gregson is a tall, flaxen-haired policeman.
Flaxen-haired means his hair is pale yellowish-gray in colour. Approximately this colour:
Honestly, Gregson isn't as unique as Baynes - he just appears in way too many stories to be ignored. Yes he's smart as Holmes says - but his actions in the stories are well, just about OK.
In fact, Gregson is quite extraordinarily human - he's conceited and keeps making a show of it too!
In A Study in Scarlet, he keeps wanting to outdo Lestrade pretty childishly.
I mean thinking, "Yeah, I'll outdo Lestrade." - that's one thing. But Gregson actually goes ahead and says something to the effect of "See, I did this. You're a fool Lestrade!" That becomes a bit funny.
Here's what he says for instance:
I mean come on - now that's taking the dig at Lestrade a bit too far, isn't it?
He's also a Sherlock Holmes wannabe. I mean, when we're young, we all want to feel like we're part of the cool gang, right? Just like that - this guy Gregson wants to feel like he's Holmes' equal.
Look at this funny excerpt from A Study in Scarlet:
It's fascinating to see how 3 different illustrators have depicted Gregson quite differently.
Now I know, I'm just making fun of Gregson throughout this description, but that doesn't mean he's just a conceited fool. He's hard-working too and most importantly, he's quite courageous.
When it comes to being fearless, he's as good as anyone else in London.
Take a peek at the praise which good old Watson bestows on our Gregson dude:
OK. That proves it.
Gregson has his ample flaws but he's a brave man. Not for nothing is he 'the best of Scotland Yarders', eh? (Yup, Sherlock Holmes does call him that once.)
Tobias Gregson is the only police guy in all 56 Sherlock Holmes stories and 4 novels to have a chapter named after him.
No other inspector - neither Lestrade nor Baynes, nor anyone else makes it to a chapter heading.
Of course, it is a bit well, funny, that even Conan Doyle didn't hold back from making fun of Gregson.
You see, Gregson keeps dropping hints that mean: "See what I can do! I rock!"
So Conan Doyle named a chapter in A Study in Scarlet: Tobias Gregson Shows What He Can Do :-)
Mr. Stanley Hopkins is, quite simply put, an ordinary police inspector - who consults Sherlock Holmes every once in a while.
He's a young man - around 30 years old - and quite alert and eager most of the time.
He's however got one distinguishing quality that I liked as I read about him: he's quite honest and he's humble enough to admit his mistakes.
He's stumped completely in all the three cases in which he appears - but he admits his faults frankly.
In Black Peter, he says to Sherlock Holmes:
Now that's honest.
Another cool thing about Stanley Hopkins is that he does refer some really exciting cases to Sherlock Holmes. He appears in Black Peter, The Golden Pince-Nez and The Abbey Grange - all stellar cases with superb Holmesian deductions.
Sherlock Holmes himself says to Watson:
Apart from these things, well - Hopkins is pretty ordinary - just like the other Scotland Yard inspectors. It's not that he's dumb. It's just that he's not got that 'out of the box' mindset that Sherlock Holmes has.
Sherlock Holmes initially feels that Hopkins might have the extra spark. But he later figures out that Hopkins is just like the others.
As Sherlock Holmes says in Black Peter:
Well, so that's about Stanley Hopkins.
Take a peek at my ratings for him.
Well, I searched and sought, but I couldn't find anything about this Stanley Hopkins guy that unique to make it to the trivia list.
So I'll be honest and tell you one fact about me and Hopkins:
He's the most endearing Inspector out of the all the inspectors in Holmes stories - for me.
Well, I guess I see a bit of myself in him.
He isn't outrageously smart, but he's honest and humble and I like him for it. He makes ample mistakes - mind you - but he also admits them right away. He's not afraid of calling himself a fool.
I like this guy.
The Baker Street irregulars are a group of 6 street kids whom Sherlock Holmes employs on a part-time basis.
They're like freelance agents for Holmes whenever he wants to get some street investigation work done.
In one novel - A Study in Scarlet, they're sent to look for a special horse-cart with a special cab driver. If Sherlock Holmes and Watson had to look for this cab, they would go mad.
Then, in A Sign of Four, these kids are sent to look for a certain steamer. Again, if Holmes and Watson had to look for this steamer, they'd be tired out of their wits.
Outsourcing helps, you see.
What else do we know about these street kids?
They're incredibly efficient. They're not the kids who run and have fun when they've been given a job. Sherlock Holmes wouldn't keep them if they were that kind.
In fact, he says:
And yes, I haven't mentioned it yet: Their leader is a boy called Wiggins. He's a bit older and taller than the rest. One of the other boys' name is Simpson.
This one was first drawn by George Hutchinson in 1887. I coloured it.
Sherlock Holmes keeps telling Wiggins alone to report to him.
His thoughts are like: I don't want all 6 kids to come pattering up. But kids will be kids. Despite being told, the kids do come pattering up the second time too.
Talking of pattering, the kids' scenes are quite funny in the stories.
In A Study in Scarlet, the kids just rush into the room and move around a bit until Holmes screams, "'Tention!" I found that to be hilarious :-)
So, how much are these brats paid?
Well, Holmes pays them a shilling a day when they're working on a case. If they come with something uber cool, then they get paid 1 guinea extra.
Not that great, frankly. I mean 1 shilling in those days would be around £5 or $8 today. And 1 guinea would be around £102 or $165 - but remember that's only for some really cool info.
There's one thing I want to say though: I'm not very happy when I think of the lives these street kids might have led. I just hope these kids aren't underage, you know and bunking school to go around the city.
Holmes calls them beggars. Do they beg for a living? I hope not.
Street kids too deserve a good childhood.
The Baker Street Irregulars is also the name of the largest Sherlockian Society in the world today.
This society was founded in 1934 and publishes an interesting magazine called The Baker Street Journal. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Isaac Asimov were members of the Baker Street Irregulars.
Guess what the head or leader of the society is called?
Billy is Sherlock Holmes' page in some of the stories.
Who's a page?
Well, a page was basically a boy-servant in those days - especially a servant boy who wanted to be trained in becoming an accomplished servant.
In the stories, Billy generally ushers guests in and performs small errands like getting stuff from the grocer's. When he shows guests in, he announces their names if they're new people.
Sometimes, he shows Sherlock Holmes their cards on a tray. If it's someone Holmes knows like Inspector Stanley Hopkins, he just swings open the door.
This picture of Billy's was originally drawn by Alfred Gilbert in 1921. Then I messed with it.
What makes Billy unique?
Quite a few things. He's brave with a capital 'B.' In The Mazarin Stone, he fiddles with Sherlock Holmes' wax figure quite happily knowing that it can be shot any instant!
In the same story, when Billy is sent to call one of the villains, Sherlock Holmes has to tell him:
Now if Sherlock Holmes has to tell a young boy to not use violence against a proper 'adult villain', then you know that young boy's a brave boy.
Then, Billy's also 'wise and tactful.' Even when he tells Watson about a certain case on which Sherlock Holmes is working, he says:
And yes - Billy does his job well too.
Considering how many people visit Sherlock Holmes - and considering the variety of people who visit (inspectors to ruffians) - it's pretty cool that Billy doesn't make mistakes!
Here go my ratings for Billy:
I've got two facts instead of one this time!
The first one is that Billy's name appears more times in the Sherlock Holmes stories than -
Wohoo. Now that's some claim to fame for Billy there.
The second one is well - a bit Indian.
You see, I am an Indian and in many parts of India, they speak Hindi. In Hindi, the word 'Billy' actually means 'cat.' So yes, every time I read the name, it makes me smile.
Imagine a guy called Mr. Cat! :-)
So those were my top 15 Sherlock Holmes characters. Time now for the awards!
Irene Adler (For saying 'Good-night, Mister Sherlock Holmes.' after stumping him)
Irene Adler (For outwitting good old Holmes)
Dr. John Watson (For his moving concern in The Dying Detective)
Dr. John Watson (For taking mortal risks without second thoughts umpteen times)