Please welcome Sophia Rose to the blog with a traveling, non-fiction biography, On the Trail of Sherlock Holmes by Stephen Browning. Fans of Sherlock will want to check out Sophia’s thoughts on this walking tour…
by Stephen Browning
Genres: Biography, Non-Fiction
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
‘There can be no question, Mr Dear Watson, of the value of exercise before breakfast’
Sherlock Holmes in The Adventure of Black Peter
You may have been introduced to the magic of the greatest of English detectives by reading the books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or perhaps watching some of the hundreds of films or TV shows that feature the extraordinary adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr John H. Watson - now, this unique book offers a detailed itinerary for actually ‘walking’ Sherlock Holmes. Beginning, of course, at Baker Street a series of walks takes in the well-known, as well as some of the more obscure, locations of London as travelled by Holmes and Watson and a gallery of unforgettable characters in the stories. Details of each location and the story in which it features are given along with other items of interest - associated literary and historical information, social history, and events in Conan Doyle’s life. A chapter then explores Holmes’ adventures in the rest of the UK. 55 black and white original photographs accompany the text.
This book is designed to appeal to anyone who wishes to gain a deeper understanding of the stories by travelling, even if just in imagination from an armchair, exactly the same London streets as Sherlock Holmes, and perhaps also by exploring some iconic Holmesian locations farther afield. ‘Come, Watson, come!’ Holmes says in The Adventure of the Abbey Grange. ‘The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!’
Sophia Rose’s Review
Marrying a travel book with a biography- no, two biographies- is genius to my way of thinking particularly when the travel matter is historic London and the biographies are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his fictitious character, Sherlock Holmes. I happily prepared for our walking tour as I snuggled into my reading chair and anticipated a wondrous vicarious experience since I consider myself a semi-serious Holmesian.
Stephen Browning begins with the man who made the book possible. He delivers an interesting biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s life up to the point he began writing the Sherlock Holmes stories. It was a perfect place to start and from there he was able to progress with bio details for Doyle even as he began to chat about Holmes and his Victorian London world through a series of Walking Tours. Each walking tour is between two-three miles long and incorporates different streets and locations mentioned in the Holmes’ stories as well as Doyle’s life. There are even tidbits about family, friends, and literary contemporaries to Doyle along with the mention of real life individuals and their stories that likely and did influence his writing of Sherlock Holmes. Like the celebrity detectives of the day who had some astounding deductions and solving of cases, Doyle’s own two dips into detective work led to the exoneration of both accused. Doyle told a story of meeting two children and their mother and overhearing the little boy talk led to the curious core of one of his favorite stories to write, The Musgrave Ritual.
Fun fact I learned was that the Raffles’ books were written by Conan Doyle’s brother in law and several people have noted some intriguing parallels. There were all sorts of little things that were new to me and I appreciate these little discoveries as I read along. Makes me want to dive back into the Holmes stories and TV/movie adaptions once again to see them in light of these revelations.
In truth, there was much to learn as we meandered along the walking tours and chatted about the scenes, characters, and places involved and bits about the history of the locale. The research and detail that went into making for a colorful backdrop to the walking tours was amazing. I should mention that the author drew mostly from the lore of the stories, but also the TV and film adaptions.On the Trail of Sherlock Holmes is not a book that will be read swiftly or make for a one-sitting read. I found it worked best to read a bit at a time because there is much to absorb between the travel facts of the Walking Tour, the Holmesian details, and the biographical data and stories. It wasn’t dry, but was full of vibe and color. Definitely a book a Holmesian would appreciate or an Anglophile in general.
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Rachel @Waves of Fiction
This does sound like an interesting way to present a biography! I bet my dad would love this. He’s read all the Sherlock Holms mysteries. I’ve watched adaptations, but never read the books.
It really was, Rachel! Glad to put you onto a recommend for your dad. 🙂
Wow, this does sound amazing. I can just imagine wanting the London streets in his time.
I agree. It would be fun retracing his steps.
This sounds really interesting and I love the concept. I haven’t absolutely loved the Sherlock Holmes I’ve read but I’ve loved the retellings I’ve read and I’m fascinated by the character himself.
Yes, the concept of walking tours blended with author and character biographical tidbits was a neat read. I love many of the Holmes retellings as much as the original, too.
Carole @ Carole's Random Life
This sounds really interesting. I haven’t read Sherlock Holmes yet but I love this kind of story behind the story.
It was a neat background read with all sorts of fascinating tidbits for readers and watchers of Holmes. 🙂
i would have this book if I ever ever make it to London! It would be such a great adventure following the trial. *sigh*
I think it would be fun to follow the Sherlock Holmes trail, too, Ailyn. 🙂
Anne - Books of My Heart
It sure was, Anne. 🙂 I wished I could go and walk some of those routes he proposed. 🙂 But, I’ll have to settle for being an arm chair traveler for now.