Common Misbeliefs About Sherlock Holmes
刘莉、邓阳秀灵 译  

Common Misbeliefs About Sherlock Holmes


Sherlock Holmes was a handsome man. 


It is a misconception that the detective was handsome. Though for movies, films and theatre plays producers cast good-looking actors to play the sleuth, Conan Doyle did not want him to be a nice man. According to the author’s description Holmes is rather hideous[1]: he is balding and has a big nose. Many years later J. K. Rowling hid Harry Potter under a scar and glasses, and this way people saw his features and deeds and formed their opinions accordingly. Doyle wanted to show the spirit, courage and humanity of Holmes. The detective became handsome because of a brilliant artist called Sidney Paget. He was commissioned by The Strand Magazine to make illustrations to the Holmes novels. While reading the stories Sidney came to like the eccentric Sherlock and that is why the character was handsome for him. But Conan Doyle thought it was Frank Wiles who depicted Holmes the closest to his original idea.

“神探歇洛克英俊潇洒”是个误解。尽管在银幕上和舞台剧中,制片人总让好看的演员扮演这位侦探,但柯南·道尔本不想如此。根据作者的描述,福尔摩斯相当丑陋:他不但谢顶,还长了只大鼻子!多年以后,J. K. 罗琳把哈利·波特藏在了伤疤和眼镜之后,人们由此注意到他的特质和行为,从而形成对他的看法。道尔希望展示的,是福尔摩斯的精神、勇气和人道关怀。神探之所以变得英俊潇洒,要归功于一个名叫西德尼·佩吉特的优秀画家。他受《斯特兰杂志》委托,为福尔摩斯系列小说绘制插画。在阅读故事的过程中,西德尼喜欢上了这个古怪的主人公,所以将他画得格外英俊。但是,柯南·道尔认为,弗兰克·怀尔斯所画的福尔摩斯最符合他的原意。


Holmes and Watson are old.


Many people imagine the duo is middle-aged at the beginning of their friendship. Before their first encounter Watson served as an army doctor in Afghanistan and Holmes already had a reputation in solving crimes. In fact they both are young, around thirty years during most of their adventures. The two are almost coveal – Holmes was born in 1854 and he met Watson in 1881. It is easy to explain how could they achieve so many things at such a young age: they both were extraordinary young men. Though Watson is lightly overshadowed by Holmes, the good doctor was an intelligent man and a well-trained surgeon, who pulled through[2] on the battlefield.


[2]pull through扛住,熬过。

Sherlock Holmes was homosexual.


It is a current opinion that Holmes and Watson had a romantic relationship. Actually Watson was married not only once in Doyle’s novels, so he was heterosexual[3]. Holmes lived entirely for his profession – he was workaholic. There are people who do not consider sex their purpose. They can fully or partially do without sex urge. Famous scientists like Stephen Hawking or Sir Isaac Newton were workaholics too.



Sherlock’s job is dangerous, it requires fast thinking, the ability of combining things and a perfect build-up[4]. It is an extremely exhaustive profession, and after it he has no time or/and energy to other activities or private life. Similar to him C. Auguste Dupin[5] and Hercule Poirot[6] had no companions.  

歇洛克的工作险象环生,不但需要快速思考,还要能将事物综合,完美推演。这个职业会彻底把人掏空,所以歇洛克工作之余根本没有时间、精力去参与其他活动或处理私人生活。与之相似,C. 奥古斯特·杜邦和大侦探波洛也都孑然一身。






Roger Johnson (The Sherlock Holmes Society of London Press and Publicity Officer and Hon Editor. He is the editor of the Sherlock Holmes Journal.), observed that in Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories, “Watson is something of a ladies’ man[7], but a faithful husband to his wife. And Holmes is essentially asexual, with no erotic interest in women or men.”


[7]ladies’ man富有女人缘的男性。

“But love is an emotional thing, and whatever is emotional is opposed to that true cold reason which I place above all things. I should never marry myself, lest I bias[8]my judgment.” –  Sherlock Holmes quote from The Sign of Four. The detective needs true cold reason for his profession.  



The society of the Victorian era had a different attitude towards sexuality. Nowadays it is an everyday topic. At that time there had been a belief that living a sexually active life shortens life expectancy and dulls thinking. It is possible that Holmes refrained[9] from sexuality because of this reason – he thought it is harmful for thinking. He remarked digestion draws away energy from brainwork, and maybe his opinion was the same about sex.