The Arthur Conan Doyle Collection Lancelyn Green Bequest

'Willie' Hornug, creator of 'Raffles''Willie' Hornung at writing desk - ACD's brother-in-law

Other crime writing authors

There can be little doubt that Conan Doyle was one of the most influential detective fiction writers in the international history of the genre. The influence of his work is evident in the work of subsequent writers such as:

  • E. W. Hornung
  • G. K. Chesterton
  • Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Agatha Christie
  • Ruth Rendell
  • Colin Dexter

This influence is also clear in relation to modern crime television series, such as CSI (which featured Sherlock Holmes in one episode); and the US medical drama House, which relies on a central relationship between a character named 'House' (aka Holmes) and another called 'Wilson' (aka Watson).

The BBC's most recent production of Sherlock features a 21st century version of the detective and his friend Dr Watson. Making use of modern technology they face a very modern enemy in James Moriarty, a slick-dressing, psychopathic criminal mastermind with a Dublin accent.
 
At the same time, it would be a mistake to overlook the ways in which Conan Doyle's Holmes stories related to the tradition of detective/crime writing that preceded him. By the end of the 19th century a range of writers had already begun producing detective stories:

  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Charles Dickens
  • Wilkie Collins
  • Emile Gaboriau

These writers provided the foundations for what Conan Doyle was later to create so successfully. It was Conan Doyle's great skill to anticipate the importance of this developing trend in later-19th-century fiction, and to understand that detective fiction offered aspiring writers, like him, a rich potential.


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