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May 22

Sherlock Holmes Day

"My Dear Watson ... Elementary"
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Sherlock Holmes
Benedict Cumberbatch
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Sherlock: "I have the advantage of knowing your habits, my dear Watson,” said he. “When your round is a short one you walk, and when it is a long one you use a hansom. As I perceive that your boots, although used, are by no means dirty, I cannot doubt that you are at present busy enough to justify the hansom.” Dr. Watson: “Excellent!” I cried. Sherlock: “Elementary,” said he. ~ The Crooked Man, Arthur Conan Doyle, 1893

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, born this day, May 22, 1859, has said that his famous detective  was originally inspired by Joseph Bell, a surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh for whom Doyle had worked as an assistant. Like Holmes, Bell was famous for his ability to draw broad conclusions from minute observations. Ironically, this tartan's namesake, the famous signature phrase,so heavily associated with the character and stories, does not actually appear in the canon of Sherlock Holmes stories. This tartan is a visual pun on the "elementary" colours - red, yellow, and blue, for a modern reboot of this generation's Holmes, everyone's favorite "high functioning sociopath."

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, born this day, May 22, 1892, has said that the famous detective  was originally inspired by Joseph Bell, a surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh for whom Doyle had worked as an assistant. Like Holmes, Bell was famous for his ability to draw broad conclusions from minute observations.

 

Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes story first appeared in print in 1887 and continued to be published for the next forty years, until shortly before the author’s death. During this time, the detective had countless adventures, usually accompanied by his loyal friend and assistant, Dr. Watson.

Designed by Carol A.L.Martin, the tartan is a playful visual pun of elementary colours - red, yellow and blue, taken from the classic phrase of Sherlock Holmes to Dr. Watson.

Ironically, these words, so heavily associated with the character and stories, do not actually appear in the canon of Sherlock Holmes stories.   The bit of dialog that comes closest to matching the famous Holmesian signature phrase is this exchange between Holmes and Dr. Watson in the short story “The Crooked Man”:

“I see that you are professionally rather busy just now,” said he, glancing very keenly across at me.

 

“Yes, I’ve had a busy day,” I answered. “It may seem very foolish in your eyes,” I added, “but really I don’t know how you deduced it.”

Holmes chuckled to himself.

“I have the advantage of knowing your habits, my dear Watson,” said he. “When your round is a short one you walk, and when it is a long one you use a hansom. As I perceive that your boots, although used, are by no means dirty, I cannot doubt that you are at present busy enough to justify the hansom.”

“Excellent!” I cried.

“Elementary,” said he.

For more the origins and evolution of the phrase, click the latest actor to play Sherlock Holmes.