Then & Now

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11 November, 1891: Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes and the modern detective in fiction, writes to his mother:

'Dearest Mam, I have done five of the Sherlock Holmes stories of the new series. They are 'The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle', 'The Adventure of the Speckled Band', 'The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor', 'The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb', 'The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet'. I think that they are up to the standard of the first series, and the 12 ought to make a rather good book of the sort. I think of slaying Holmes in the sixth and winding him up for good and all. He takes my mind from better things.'

6 April, 1893: The author writes to his mother. After a trip to Switzerland, he has decided to kill off Holmes by having him plunge into the Reichenbach Falls while battling with his arch enemy, Professor Moriarty:

'I am in the middle of the last Holmes story after which the gentleman vanishes never to return]'

1903: After huge public protest - including City workers wearing crape bands around their hats in mourning - Conan Doyle is told that if he restores Holmes to life, explaining away the matter of the Reichenbach Falls, a magazine in the United States will pay him dollars 5,000 a story for six short stories or as many more as he cares to write. The British magazine 'Strand' would also offer half as much for the British rights. Conan Doyle replies on a postcard:

'Very Well. ACD'

20 January, 1993: More than 18 million viewers tune in to ITV to watch the 28th and 'final' episode of Colin Dexter's 'Inspector Morse', starring John Thaw.