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Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street: A Life of the World's First Consulting Detective

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  10,376 ratings  ·  45 reviews
From the Dust Jacket:
Although millions know of Sherlock Holmes through the chronicles of his exploits written by Dr. Watson, it is only now that, owing to his recent death, the full biography and facts of his life can be brought before the public. This volume brings together for the first time every known fact that can be fully authenticated about the life of one of the wo
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published August 7th 1995 by Wings Books / Random House Value Publishing (first published 1962)
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Average rating 4.43  · 
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 ·  10,376 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Oliver Baer
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable read of Sherlock Holmes' biography as if he were a real person. I personally enjoyed how Baring-Gould threaded together the canon with what we now would call fan-fiction (the book was published in 1962) and his own speculation. It even reads like many biographies, at some points a bit slow-going, but then it picks up again. To those scholars wanting to know more about Baring-Gould's research or completists of the canon, I recommend reading Appendix II, which is a bibliographic compi ...more
C.O. Bonham
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sherlockia
For a biography of a fictional person it really wasn't very interesting. The narritave is largely just paraphrasing of Doyle's adventures with a lot of speculation thrown in.

If you do decide to read this do try to find a copy of "Profile By Gaslight: an irregular reader about the private life of Sherlock Holmes" Edited by: Edgar W. Smith Published by: Simon & Schuster NY 1944. "Profile By Gaslight" is referenced a lot in Baring-Gould's foot notes and is on it's own a much more interesting read.
M.R. Graham
A fascinating piece of scholarship, expertly blending fact with surmise. Baring-Gould does an excellent job of untangling Watson's obfuscations, reading between the lines, and catching odd clues left by the Detective's biographer.
Unfortunately, the conclusion left something to be desired. One would think that so respected a Holmesian scholar would have noted that, to date, The Times has yet to publish an obituary for Sherlock Holmes. I credit The Times' editorial staff with both the resources an
Jan 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What an incredibly fun read. Yes, it's dry and clinical in spots, but what biography isn't? Baring-Gould clearly did his research, drawing from Conan Doyle's published stories of the Great Detective and building on concepts introduced by other Holmesian scholars. He here constructs a fully detailed and authentic biography not just of Sherlock Holmes but of his brother Mycroft and their parents. (Given somewhat short shrift is oldest Holmes brother Sherrinford, a country squire.) Baring-Gould's w ...more
Feb 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
Late last night, I finished this singular title from Holmesian studies: Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street by the late W.S. Baring-Gould, a Holmesian scholar of note. (First published, 1962; this vintage paperback edition is from 1963, the second printing.)

This might be the pinnacle of scholarly literature concentrating on “The Game” of treating Holmes and Watson as real people (according to Wikipedia, Ronald Knox, the English theologian, gets credit for inventing “The Game”). It’s a complete biogr
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sherlockiana
This is a pastiche biography of Sherlock Holmes which maps out a chronology of all of his adventures and includes Baring-Gould's headcanons about Holmes. I mostly read this for research purposes. Since this book was so influential among Sherlockians, I figured it was required reading. Props to this guy for doing the hard work of putting together a timeline, but the reading was a bit of a slog at times, since it was more or less a summary of the canon. Baring-Gould's headcanons also wildly diverg ...more
Ron Chicaferro
May 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If you're a fan of the worlds first consulting detective then you might want to read this wonderful book, Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street by William S. Baring-Gould. The book was published in 1962 so it may be hard to find but it is the most definitive of the Holmes books. Baring-Gould spent 20 years researching all the aspects of the Conan-Doyle stories to either prove or disprove many of the aspects of the Holmes stories that have been adopted by other authors. Its a fascinating look into a ch ...more
R. C.
Dec 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
How can a story that's basically a clever compilation of "facts" from many other stories be so fascinating? My favorite part was reading the info on Holmes' dad that was actually lifted directly from The Lost World's description of Professor Challenger. Uh-huh, origin of Holmes' neuroticism, check. Can I add to this review hearts and flutters and stars for the "biographer"? *~*~<3~*~* Mr. Baring-Gould *~*~<3~*~* ...more
Kathy  Petersen
Dec 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
I've been reading the entire Holmes collection chronologically by publication date; Baring-Gould has written this biography using the chronology of the cases themselves. This makes me want to start over -- but I won't since B-G has provided sufficient detail to remind me of the tale he briefly, and without spoilers, describes. He also reveals some hitherto unknown facets of Holmes' life after Reichenbach and before the adventure of the empty house. (Rex Stout would neither confirm nor deny...)
Oct 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
now i am hooked. This was such a great, easy and creative book. i was hooked after the first page.

The characters were easy to fall in love with and follow, along with the story. the author made the mental visions so easy and vivid of the surroundings and the characters actions felt so real.

i would highly recommend this author and this book.
Jul 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A ‘biography’ of a fictional character has a certain meta feel to it, and this measures up, with footnotes and references to other fictional characters and novels, and a deep comprehension of the writings of Dr. Watson. To any fan of Sherlock Holmes this book will be both indispensable and delightful. Oh, and Baring-Gould even solves the mystery of Jack the Ripper.
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Whitney Grindberg
Feb 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Fun bu kind of redundant read, well written in the style and spirit of the stories. If they were less retellings of the original stories within his life and more unique happenings of Holmes's life, it would have been a better read.
Aug 03, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 01_owned, sold
All the respect for the hardcore Sherlock Holmes fans that love this book. But I personally don't understand its existence. I couldn't get through it. And I tried. Multiple times.
Francisco Romao
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good Book
Debi Emerson
The author does an excellent job of taking the writings of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle plus the subsequent articles & research to compile an extremely interesting "biography" of Sherlock Holmes!
Rena Sherwood
Once you read all of the novels and short stories about Sherlock Holmes written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, you want more. One of the first names you'll come across whether reading a pastiche or Sherlockian "studies" is William S. Baring-Gould, a sort of Patron Saint of Sherlockians. He wrote a lot but is best known for his annotated Sherlock Holmes stories and this book.


Which is a shame since this book sucks. Yes, it's influential and was the first to try and write a straight "biography" of Sher
Sep 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hardcore Holmes fans
This is the second attempt at a Sherlock Holmes biography that I've read, and I ended up being slightly bored by both of them. I guess the problem is that at some point both authors can't do much else than retell the canon stories. Baring-Gould did this to the point where he paraphrased or just quoted looooong passages from the canon, which was not necessary and didn't even fit with the style of the rest of the book. Why would you have extensive dialogue in a (fictional) biography? But maybe tha ...more
James Walter
Jul 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fun, But Oh So Serious

I loved "Sherlock Holmes Of Baker Street" tremendously. Such commitment to establishing a superb continuum of facts to support a supreme fallacy is to be commended. I know my statements are probably offensive to the "died in the wool" Sherlockian! But to the I think, majority of Sherlock Holmes fans, who enjoy without obsession, this is masterpiece to be enjoyed, both for a better understanding and appreciation of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and for the creativity of such
Jan 15, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: serious Holmes fans with high boredom threshholds
I'd been looking forward to reading this for months. Not as much as I'd been looking forward to Game of Shadows, but then Robert Downey Jr's very liberal interpretation of Holmes is the sexiest thing I've ever seen in a film, and this is just a geeky old book about Conan Doyle's original character.

Three interesting speculative chapters about Sherlock's pre-detecting life make a decent opener, but later only the obligatory Jack The Ripper digression interleaves a sheaf of unoriginal case synopses
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At first I couldn't believe I hadn't read this sooner. But now I'm glad I waited a couple of years after I finished the canon. This amazing fictional biography in part acts as a sort of canon refresher. It's really fun to read about many of the cases from a biographical perspective. I love how Baring-Gould filled in ACD's gaping plot holes and makes sense of the radical inconsistencies Sherlockians are always discussing. Of COURSE Watson had three wives! Everything makes sense now. Oh, THAT's wh ...more
Jul 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sherlock
This is a biography of Sherlock Holmes, written as if he'd been a real person. In the first several chapters, the author creates a backstory for him that has been riffed off of in fanon ever since. The events of the adventures that Watson chronicled in the Canon are rearranged chronologically to create an interesting and coherent narrative that helps make sense out of Conan Doyle's cavalier approach to continuity. I really enjoyed this, and as soon as I finished this library book, I ordered a co ...more
Kirsten T
Nov 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Completely bonkers and therefore entirely loveable. A work of Serious Biography about Actual Real Person, Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street. Did you know that Sherlock Holmes was prrooobbbabbly hunting the yeti during his three year "Great Hiatus"? Or that Professor Moriarty may well be dozens of other famous fictional characters, including Fu Manchu and Captain Nemo? Well now you do. Thanks, William S. Baring-Gould! (Basically, Sherlockian scholarship is BANANAS.)
Michael P.
A thoroughly enjoyable "biography" of a fictional character. Baring-Gould would have a better book had he resisted the temptations to supply so many plot synopsis from Conan Doyle stories as if they are the events of Holmes's life. The ending is every bit as silly as it tries to be moving, but overall this is a very readable and fun book of the "Holmes was real" variety. This conceit is silly to its core, but many like it.
Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read this book as a teen (lent by my brother) and loved it. I recently got my hands on acopy and have re-read it. This very first attempt of a biography of the Great detective is still delightful, and my better knowledge as an adult of the characters and historical facts mentioned has but added to the delight. A piece of joy.
Jul 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The most prominent of the now several fictional Holmesian biographies, Baring-Gould delves into the canon established by Conan Doyle with aplomb, creating links with other fictional detectives and other figures and suggesting a background for the gentleman detective. A must-read for any fan of Holmes, in any iteration.
Sep 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Not a mystery or a pastiche per se but a biography of Sherlock Holmes. Very good. Includes Holmes involvement in the Jack The Ripper case (and the identity of the murderer-you'll never guess who!), as well as the time and manner of Holmes' death.
May 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sherlock-holmes
This was the first Writing about the Writings that I had ever seen, found on a remainder table way way back when I was in college. It will always have a place in my heart, although I think some of his deductions and conclusions are wrong. Do Sherlockians ever agree on some of these things?
Jun 29, 2010 rated it liked it
An interesting approach but just a repeat of Conan
Doyle's stories.
M.k. Yost
Jan 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sherlock-holmes
I adored this! It's like the unauthorised biography of Sherlock Holmes, and piece of convincing semi-fiction that seems to have influenced a lot of modern Sherlockian writers.
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William Stuart Baring-Gould (1913–1967) was a noted Sherlock Holmes scholar, best known as the author of the influential 1962 fictional biography, Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street: A life of the world's first consulting detective.

He was creative director of Time magazine's circulation and corporate education departments from 1937 until his death. His paternal grandfather was Reverend Sabine Baring-

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