EDINBURGH EXPERT WALKING TOURS - BLOG
At the eastern end of the New Town, at the junction where the Omni Centre stands today, you'll find a statue of the world's most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes.
The statue commemorates the birthplace of Holmes's creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, born in a house previously on this site (but since demolished) in 1859.
As one of the city's greatest literary figures, it is fitting that the monument should be in the form of the creation rather than the creator - with his trademark deerstalker hat and bulbous pipe in hand, the figure will be instantly recognisable to people from all around the world.
Holmes holds the world record for being the most portrayed character on film, and as is often the case, it is likely he is better known from these dramatised versions of the stories than from Doyle's original books.
Doyle studied at the medical school in Edinburgh from 1876 to 1881, and it was there that he came under the influence of a lecturer, Dr Joseph Bell, who would later be credited with being the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes. Indeed, the likeness was considered so accurate that after the first Holmes story was published, another of Bell's former students, the writer Robert Louis Stevenson, wrote to Doyle to congratulate him on such a successful character study!
Doyle is often referred to as Conan Doyle, as though his surname was double-barrelled. In fact, Conan was one of Arthur Doyle's middle names, and in many literary and library classifications his works are listed under D for Doyle, rather than C for Conan.
The statue of Holmes was sculpted by Gerald Ogilvie Laing and unveiled in 1991. It subtly references another (unrelated) artist: around the rim of the pipe that Holmes is holding are inscribed the words 'Ceci n'est pas une pipe' ('This is not a pipe') from Rene Magritte's iconic surrealist painting The Treachery of Images.
A nearby pub across the road from the statue also commemorates Doyle's birthplace, and features on its sign an image of the author himself, with the shadow of his famous creation behind him. Doyle's own feeling was that Holmes overshadowed much of his other writing, leading to his famous attempt to kill off the character, being having to bring him back from the dead due to public appeal.
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