The irresistible attraction of Sherlock Holmes

The silhouette of Sherlock Holmes, with his deerstalker hat, pipe and magnifying glass, is instantly recognisable. The stories have been translated into many languages, and new stories are always being written. All over the world actors have made their name by playing the famous – and infinitely malleable – detective, and groups meet to discuss and dress as characters from the stories.

But what is behind this extraordinary attraction to the character of Holmes? 

Go along to the Spring Arts and Heritage Centre, to listen to Michael Gunton, Senior Archivist at Portsmouth City Library,  who will explore some of the reasons for our enduring fascination with Sherlock Holmes. Perhaps due to the hugely popular television series starting Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, Holmes is often mistaken for a historical figure, rather than a fictional creation.

An extensive collection of items relating to Conan Doyle is housed in the Library’s second floor history suite, and Michael Gunton has been involved with it since it was bequeathed to the Library in 2004 by Richard Lancelyn Green – generally considered the world’s foremost scholar on Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. He has extensive knowledge of the time spent by Conan Doyle in the Portsmouth area; for example, Conan Doyle’s first doctors’ practice was located in Southsea.

It was while living in Southsea that Conan Doyle began his second career, as a writer of fiction, and the first two Sherlock Holmes tales, A Study in Scarlet (1887) and The Sign of Four (1890) were written during his time here. Michael Gunton’s talk will take place on Thursday 15 September at 7.45pm; tickets are £6. You can book in person at the Box Office, or telephone 023 9247 2700, or visit The Spring’s website at


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