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Sherlock Holmes by the Numbers

Not everything pertaining to Sherlock Holmes is elementary, like the fact that he never, ever said “Elementary, my dear Watson,” in any of the 60 stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Not-a-once. How does one find this out? Why, by combing through everything the world’s first (and only) consulting detective has ever done. Because, like Sherlock himself says, data is everything. “I can’t make bricks without clay!”

A new series of infographics by Adam Frost and Jim Kynvin at The Guardian went back to the source material — Conan Doyle’s original 60 cases — and found out everything you could possibly want to know about the repetition of certain people, places, things, themes, clue-types, and criminal elements.

For instance, the graphic below tells you that 19 cases begin with a law-abiding bourgeois stumbling into something a bit strange. It’s also worth noting that six times, a tenth of the cases, involved either no client or a case where the client ends up being the villain.

Sherlock Holmes Chart - Clients

We can also see that, overwhelmingly, the type of crimes Holmes solves are murders, a whopping 37 (nearly 62%). That might have more to do with murders being the most lurid and intriguing for audiences. Two of 60 cases are about counterfeiting, which is clearly less common in Victorian London than killing other people. 10 don’t even have a crime…that feels like a cheat, Sir Conan Doyle.

Sherlock Holmes Chart - Crimes

But not every culprit is taken in by the police. Sure, 33% of them are handed over to the police, but 22% get let go because Holmes shows mercy, or he just does it on a whim. On a whim! 16% even escape, which doesn’t necessarily blemish Mr. Holmes’ record, but it doesn’t say a whole lot for Inspector Lestrade and Scotland Yard.

Sherlock Holmes Chart - Solving

And how about all the things we thought we knew about Sherlock Holmes but were wrong about? I already told you the “elementary” thing, but the deer stalker hat, calabash pipe, violin, and Inverness cape were all made up or perpetuated by people, not Arthur Conan Doyle. Even his famous cocaine addiction didn’t last as long as we might think.

Sherlock Holmes Chart - Public Property

To know everything else there is to know, number-wise, about Holmes, Watson, 221B Baker Street (it had a floor plan!) and all their adventures, you can find the full set of infographics by Frost and Kynvin at The Guardian‘s website.

IMAGES: Sydney Paget; Frost and Kynvin


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