As revealed in her recent BBC4 series, Lucy Worsley is rather a fan of Sherlock Holmes. The TV historian – who has most recently been investigating a morbid national obsession in A Very British Murder – told an audience at the Cheltenham Literature Festival earlier today that she’s drawn to Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective and his sidekick, Dr Watson, because “it’s the combination of the two of them that’s irresistible.”
Worsley went on to admit that she “get[s] cross when people describe Dr Watson as the stupid friend. He’s not stupid. He’s incredibly emotionally intelligent in a way that Holmes isn’t.
“Personally, what I like about Sherlock Holmes is not so much his strength as his weakness and we all know that the supremely rational detective won’t have been able to navigate life without the help of his friend, Dr Watson.”
Continuing on the subject of her new book, A Very British Murder, which accompanies her television series, Worsley went on to explain the reasons behind Sherlock’s subsequent fall from grace during the 1920s.
“After World War I, [Sherlock] was still in business but he was getting a little bit out of touch. The last Sherlock Holmes story did come out in 1927 but he was falling out of fashion and that is because, I believe, after the four years of the war, after the four years of violent doom, violence seemed a little bit out of place in a nation where nearly every home had lost a son. Now detective writers in the 1920s erased the violence and adventure and action from their stories and they turned detection into a peaceful, rather genteel art.”