The Arthur Conan Doyle Collection Lancelyn Green Bequest

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


There can be little doubt that Conan Doyle. was one of the mostinfluential 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 stories, such as the CSI series (which featured Sherlock Holmes in one episode), and even 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 who face a very modern enemy in James Moriarty, who is now 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. For, by the end of the ninteenth century a range of writers, including:-

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

had already begun producing detective stories that themselves were the foundations for what Conan Doyle. was later to create. It was Conan Doyle's great skill to anticipate the importance of this developing trend in later-nineteenth-century fiction, and to understand that writing within the genre of detective fiction offered aspiring writers such as him a rich potential.

Click here to find out more about Conan Doyle



What's new?

Watch a message from Stephen Fry

Treasures of the Collection

Sign up for email updates

Download newsletter

Please answer our short survey

(You could win a copy of Study In Scarlet featuring an introduction by Steven Moffat!)