The Original Fandom? On Sherlock Holmes Fans

The super sleuth detective's fandom dates back centuries.
By Sheryl Crespo
  • The Best the Sherlock Fandom Has To Offer

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    What is a fandom?

    There are a million definitions floating about, but let’s look at the ones granted by Urban Dictionary.

    “The community that surrounds a tv show/movie/book etc. Fanfiction writers, artists, poets, and cosplayers are all members of that fandom. Fandoms often consist of message boards, livejournal communities, and people,” is definition number one.

    Scroll down a bit.

  • Holmes

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    “A fanbase is a word used to describe the collection of people who mutually enjoy something. A fandom is so much more than that. This is when these people unite. Their passion is sucked into one single point and forms a black hole of fantasies. They feed off it and their passion grows. An inferno of animated gifs and captioned screengrabs explodes outward, engulfing every tumblog in sight. Fangirls screaming and crying everywhere. All is lost.”

    Sure enough, fandoms attract some of the most passionate people to stalk characters on the internet. But what was the first fandom? When did fandoms begin? Some argue it started with the Sherlockians. The Holmesians. The Doyleokians.

    The Sherlock Holmes fandom. It’s been going strong for centuries. In a society that is becoming increasingly welcoming to quirkiness, Holmes fits the bill for the hero everybody can’t help, but adore. Add his little bromance with Dr. John Watson and fandoms have quite a bit to work with. Don’t believe me? Check the Sherlock Holmes Tumblr if you dare.

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    Holmes’s fandom, however, predates chibis of him and Watson.

    “When Doyle had the extremely unfortunate idea to push Sherlock Holmes off the edge of Reichenbach Falls and be rid of him for good, he was little prepared for the reaction that followed. British society dressed in mourning,” the Den of Geek reported. “Black armbands were worn to commemorate the great detective’s passing. People cancelled their subscriptions to The Strand (the newspaper that then published the Holmes stories), but not before sending piles of angry letters. Even more piles of pleas and petitions arrived on Doyle’s doorstep. Obituaries appeared in newspapers. Accusations of murder flew through the air.”

    True fandom. Eventually, these fans were able to push Doyle into resurrecting their idol. Since then, Holmes has continued to live on, eventually moving to TV and movie mediums.

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    “Today, the popularity of Sherlock Holmes is, well, a cultural given. Yet despite those things, it’s sometimes unclear just how much of a phenomenon Sherlock Holmes really is, how unique the manifestations of his popularity are, how wide-ranging the various forms of fan activity are, and how far they go beyond the conventional limits of a marketed, commercial world,” the source continued. “Adaptations of the stories have seen a particularly great upsurge in recent years, and today’s mass media makes it easy to spread the word – but let’s not forget all the various fantastic and unusual ways in which enthusiasm for the stories manifested itself, long before marketing and conceptions of mass media even arose.”

    These adaptations will continue to grow over time. Of all the timeless characters ever penned, Holmes is one who has simply refused to die. Fueling his eternal being is his devoted fandom, hundreds of years in the making.

    Elementary, my dear Watson.