There’s nothing as deceptive as an obvious fact.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)

Sherlock Holmes

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.


Sherlock Holmes never said ‘Elementary, my dear Watson!’ Holmes does use the word ‘elementary’ in The Crooked Man (1894) but ‘Elementary, my dear Watson’ itself was coined 21 years later by P.G. Wodehouse in his novel Psmith, Journalist (1915). The phrase is also uttered at the very end of the 1929 film, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, the first Sherlock Holmes sound film.

Watson ‘ejaculates’

Watson ‘ejaculates’ twice as often as Sherlock Holmes in Conan Doyle’s stories. There are 23 ejaculations in total, with 11 belonging to Watson. On one occasion, Holmes refers to Watson’s ‘ejaculations of wonder’ being invaluable; on another, Watson ejaculates ‘from his very heart’ in the direction of his fiancée. Holmes is only responsible for six ejaculations, although it is not clear which of the two men ejaculate in the passage below:

So he sat as I dropped off to sleep, and so he sat when a sudden ejaculation caused me to wake up, and I found the summer sun shining into the apartment. The pipe was still between his lips, the smoke still curled upward, and the room was full of a dense tobacco haze, but nothing remained of the heap of shag which I had seen upon the previous night.
The Man with the Twisted Lip, 1891

A chap called Phelps ejaculated three times during the story of The Naval Treaty. The only other ejaculator is Mrs St Clair’s husband, who ejaculates at her from a second-floor window.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)

If in one hundred years I am only known as the man who invented Sherlock Holmes, then I will have considered my life a failure.