Wednesday, November 25, 2009


In the December issue of Reader’s Digest, A. N. Wilson controversially reveals that he thinks fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, was a homosexual who went on drug-fuelled prowls around London’s notorious East End dives.

“It’s obvious to me” argues A.N. Wilson, “that Holmes was a homosexual. His drug-fuelled prowls among the docks and opium dens of Wapping and Limehouse must have led to the encounters that his nature secretly required.”

Whilst Guy Ritchie’s pending Holmes movie also portrays the detective as a homosexual, in the form of a love affair between the detective and his faithful side-kick Dr. Watson, Wilson argues that Holmes kept his sexuality and addiction well hidden, to the extent that even Watson – his closest ally – is unlikely to have been aware of his habits “Watson would surely be horrified - and so, I suspect, would Doyle.”

Doyle attempted to ‘clean up’ Holmes’ image in later writings, but Wilson refers to early accounts of the famous detective’s drug abuse:

“The first paragraph of The Sign of Four has Holmes taking a syringe from his mantelpiece and injecting himself; ‘the sinewy forearm and wrist, all dotted and scarred with innumerable puncture-marks’. But by the time Doyle was writing The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for family audiences in the Strand magazine two years later, the drugs had been eliminated.”

Despite Holmes’ penchant for Class A drugs and night crawls around Wapping; one of his biggest fans, Wilson reveals, is the Archbishop of Canterbury:
“Recently, I happened to meet the Archbishop of Canterbury at a literary festival. I asked how he managed to stay sane. ‘I just keep reading the Sherlock Holmes stories,’ he said.”

The full piece will feature in the December edition of Reader’s Digest.

A.N. Wilson is an English writer, known for his critical biographies, novels and works of popular and cultural history. He is also a columnist for the London Evening Standard and is a contributor to the Daily Mail, Times Literary Supplement, New Statesman, The Spectator and The Observer.


Lee Matthias said...

It's apparent that Wilson is just stirring the coals as his past suggests he has done many times. It is curious why he roomed with Watson, a known heterosexual, when he could have avoided the danger of discovery by keeping it in-house. If anyone's interested in a new Holmes adventure, they might want to check out my newly issued novel, THE PANDORA PLAGUE, It tells of the first association of Holmes and magican Harry Houdini.

Derek Emerson said...

As a long time Sherlock Holmes fan I've heard these suggestions before. The drug addiction is clear in the books and while Holmes could certainly be gay we have to reconcile it with his "obsession" with Irene Adler -- at the end of "Scandal in Bohemia" he takes her picture to remember her by. Watson gay? That would be stretch. Too conservative, too easily shocked by the unconventional, and married too many times.