Books Quiz
Fictional Characters - Sherlock Holmes
Try out your detective skills in this enjoyable quiz!

Fictional Characters - Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes is surely the greatest fictional detective of all time. Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation is the current holder of the Guinness World Record for the most portrayed literary character across film and television. Almost every person on Earth has heard of him. Millions believe he is not a fictional character but a real individual and in fact he was inspired by the real-life figure of Joseph Bell, a surgeon Conan Doyle met at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in 1877.

The writer of this quiz, Tim Symonds, is the author of five Sherlock Holmes novels including ‘Sherlock Holmes And The Mystery of Einstein’s Daughter’ based on an as-yet unsolved riddle in the famous physicist’s life - what did happen to his illegitimate daughter ‘Lieserl’? As the American scientist Frederic Golden put it in Time Magazine, ‘Lieserl’s fate shadows the Einstein legend like some unsolved equation’. Find out more by visiting Tim's website.

  1. Dogs appear in all of the following cases but in which one did the famous ‘curious incident of the dog in the night-time’ occur?
    Here’s the famous exchange:
    Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
    Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
    Gregory (bewildered): "The dog did nothing in the night-time."
    Holmes: "That was the curious incident."
  2. Which of the following famous remarks was never made by Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Conan Doyle’s writings?
    These exact words never appear in Conan Doyle’s stories, only later in Sherlock Holmes films. Holmes comes near a few times. He says "Elementary" in 'The Crooked Man', and "It was very superficial, my dear Watson, I assure you" in 'The Cardboard Box'. He also says "Exactly, my dear Watson,” in three different stories
  3. Who was Sherlock Holmes' infamous archenemy, the one he called ‘the Napoleon of Crime’?
    Conan Doyle lifted the phrase from a real-life Scotland Yard inspector referring to Adam Worth, a contemporary British criminal
  4. In 1891, in ‘The Final Problem’, Sherlock Holmes sent ‘the Napoleon of Crime’ tumbling to his death in the boiling waters of the Reichenbach Falls. Holmes later claimed his resort to ‘Baritsu’ was the deciding factor in defeating his deadly foe. What was ‘baritsu’?
    Bartitsu is a mix of martial arts and self-defence methods originally developed in England during the years 1898-1902 by Edward William Barton-Wright, a British engineer who had spent the previous three years living in the Empire of Japan. The word is a mix of his own surname and ‘Jujitsu’
  5. Holmes’s elder brother Mycroft was a founder of a London club, ‘The Diogenes’. What was the strict rule which meant either membership refusal or subsequent loss of membership if broken?
    The rule continued, ‘Save in the Stranger's Room, no talking is, under any circumstances, allowed, and three offences, if brought to the notice of the committee, render the talker liable to expulsion.’

    The Club’s name seems to have been taken from Diogenes the Cynic (although this is never explained in the original stories) and was co-founded by Sherlock's indolent elder brother, Mycroft Holmes
  6. In ‘The Adventure of the Speckled Band’, what does the evil Dr. Grimesby Roylott use to lure the ‘swamp adder’ (‘the deadliest snake in India’) back through the vent?
    In fact snakes drinking milk is a complete myth. For the ‘swamp adder’ to be lured back to the other room, the evil Dr. Grimesby Roylott would most sensibly soak the fake bell-pull in rodent scent. ‘Speckled Band’ includes the memorable remark by Holmes: ‘When a doctor does go wrong, he is the first of criminals. He has the nerve and he has the knowledge.’

    Conan Doyle should know what Holmes was talking about. He was himself a qualified medical doctor. Incidentally, there is no such snake as an Indian ‘swamp adder’ but the name does sound frightening
  7. Which magazine turned Watson’s chronicles into rip-roaring best-sellers?
    The Strand was a monthly magazine composed of short fiction and general interest articles, published in London from January 1891 to March 1950. Its immediate popularity is shown by an initial sale of nearly 300,000 to a by-now highly literate population. Not many magazines can count Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill among their former contributors.

    The Sherlock Holmes short stories were first published in The Strand with illustrations by Sidney Paget. When ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’ appeared in the July 1891 issue circulation rose immediately. The magazine also published a United States edition from February 1891 through February 1916. With the serialisation of Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles between August 1901 and April 1902, sales reached their peak. Without such an outlet, the Sherlock Holmes stories may never have gained their immense popularity
  8. Holmes is an expert in hand-to-hand combat but also in weaponry. Of the following, which weapon does Holmes never employ?
    Holmes never used a blowpipe although the weapon is employed against him in ‘The Sign Of The Four’ by Tonga, an Andaman islander
  9. Conan Doyle wrote several ‘locked room’ mysteries where it seems impossible for the killer to have entered the room or left without being seen. Which one of the following four Sherlock Holmes is not a locked room mystery?
    The locked-room (or ‘impossible murder’) mystery is a category of detective fiction in which the victim is bludgeoned, stabbed, strangled, poisoned, or shot to death (i.e. almost always murdered) under circumstances in which it seems impossible for the perpetrator to evade detection getting in and away from the crime scene. The door is locked and bolted from the inside, there are no duplicate keys, and no spooky supernatural element. Typically there are no secret passages or hidden panels.

    A classic example is Israel Zangwill’s ‘The Big Bow Mystery’ published in 1892. Mrs Drabdump's lodger is discovered with his throat cut. There is no trace of a murder weapon and no way a murderer could have got in or out. Another is ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’, a short story by Edgar Allan Poe published in Graham's Magazine in 1841. A woman and her daughter are murdered in an inaccessible room, locked from the inside. And John Dickson Carr’s ‘He Who Whispers’, in which the victim is stabbed to death in a closely guarded tower. Much further back, the Old Testament story ‘Bel And The Dragon’ has some similarities to locked-room mysteries
  10. Originally Sherlock Holmes’s faithful chronicler Dr. John H. Watson planned to make a life-time career as a surgeon doctor in the British Army. Why then, in 1881, following a stint in Afghanistan, did he return to England?
    He was discharged on a half pay officer’s pension of 11 shillings and 6 pence a month.

    The jezail (or Jezzail, from Pashto) was a simple, often handmade muzzle-loading long arm then commonly used in British India, Central Asia and parts of the Middle East. Incidentally, some calculations (‘economic power’) give the modern value of Watson’s wound pension as Sterling £1,652, about the same as the average wage of a factory worker in Britain today

Author: Tim Symonds

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