Watch: Alumni Masterclass – Sherlock Holmes and the City

On Wednesday 20 October we were joined by Dr Catherine Wynne for the second episode in our second series of Alumni Masterclasses. You can watch the video of that session below.

This masterclass on Sherlock Holmes explores two of Holmes’s ‘city’ cases. In ‘The Red-Headed League’ (1891), Holmes explores London both above and below from the pathways behind the “shabby genteel” square of Jephro Rucastle’s pawnshop to the subterranean vaults of the City and Suburban Bank. In ‘The Man with the Twisted Lip’ (1891), Holmes, disguised as an addict, is discovered by Watson in an East End opium den in a story highlighting Victorian social problems of opium use and begging. 

The seminar commences with a discussion of Dr Joseph Bell’s influence on Conan Doyle, how the Edinburgh lecturer trained Conan Doyle and his other medical students in the “habit of observation” and how Conan Doyle used Bell’s diagnostic methods in the creation of Holmes. This is followed by a detailed examination of the stories, and of Sidney Paget’s accompanying illustrations for The Strand Magazine which did so much to create the image and iconography of Holmes which continues to this day. 

Finally, we will briefly introduce Loveday Brooke, a fictional female detective inspired by Holmes. This pioneering ‘lady detective’, the creation of Catherine Louisa Pirkis, made her first appearance in print in 1893.


Bio Dr Catherine Wynne.

Dr Catherine Wynne is Reader in Victorian and Early Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture. She is an expert on Bram Stoker, Conan Doyle and Lady Butler.  Lady Butler: War Artist and Traveller, 1846-1933 (2019) is her latest large-scale publication. She has also published monographs on Stoker and Doyle and is currently editing The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for Oxford University Press (World Classics) and The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Valley of Fear for Edinburgh University Press New Critical Editions of Arthur Conan Doyle.

Find out more about the MA English (Creative Writing and English Literature) >>

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