2020-07-06 22:11:42 UTC
Literary experts say Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote crass racist descriptions in
his novels about Sherlock Holmes. Arthur Conan Doyle, who created Sherlock
Holmes, was born in Picardy Place in 1859 with a statue being erected by the
Federation of Master Builders to mark its 50th anniversary in 1991.
Arthur Conan Doyle, who created Sherlock Holmes, was born in Picardy Place in
1859 with a statue being erected by the Federation of Master Builders to mark
its 50th anniversary in 1991.
The statue is located at Leith Walk in Edinburgh, opposite the house where Conan
Doyle was born.
In one of Doyles novels, The Adventure of the Three Gables, one of 56 Sherlock
Holmes short stories published in 1926, he writes about a moment in which Holmes
stares at the hideous mouth of a huge negro and tells the savage: I dont
like the smell of you.
Meanwhile, in The Sign of the Four, the second novel featuring Sherlock Holmes
published in 1890, Doyle describes the aborigines of the Andaman Islands off the
coast of India as naturally hideous, having large, misshapen heads.
Dr Merrick Burrow, lead professor of English at the University of Huddersfield
told The Times of Scotland: Especially in the early Sherlock Holmes stories,
there are crass racist descriptions.
There is no question that the language used to describe people of various
ethnicities is inflammatory, offensive and insensitive by any contemporary
The stories are almost all narrated by Dr Watson and there is a racist
framework of descriptions of immigrants in negative terms.
Dr Burrow claimed the author should be judged by Victorian standards stressing
that Doyles crass characterisations were fairly typical of his time.
She added: There is a massive difference between someone who was a slave trader
or waged military campaigns and someone who wrote books.
Jonathan McCafferty, president of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London,
admitted there was lamentable instances of language in the novels.
However, he stressed the author campaigned for years to secure a pardon for an
ethnic minority solicitor convicted of maiming a pony.
Doyle claimed the solicitor, known as George Edalji suffered a miscarriage of
justice because of police officers who were being racist.
It comes in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests have taken place around the
world following the death of George Floyd in the United States.
The movement has sparked a debate over people with links to the slave trade and
how memorials should be reviewed in the future.
Statues of Edward Colston in Bristol and Christopher Columbus in the US are
among those to have been taken down.
It also comes shortly after First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford said he would
review all statues, street and building names in the country to address the
country's connections with the slave trade.
Speaking today, he said the review was "not about rewriting the past" but
"reflecting it with the justice it deserves".