Tag: The Raven

7 Things Arthur Conan Doyle Stole from Edgar Allan Poe

7 Things Arthur Conan Doyle Stole from Edgar Allan Poe

November 23, 2011 | By | Add a Comment

Edgar Allen Poe died on October 7, 1849.  Arthur Conan Doyle was born on May 22, 1859.  Clearly any exchange of knowledge and narrative could only have been one way.  As such, let us consider the multitudinous ways in which the two men were alike.  There was no Internet in the Victorian Age, making it even easier to conceal the real source of Doyle’s inspiration for an English audience.  With that as preface, we present the following.


  1. The Name – Was Arthur Conan Doyle even a real name?  Consider that both names always include the middle name and that the three names contain two syllables in the first two names and one syllable in the third – coincidence?
  2. C. Auguste Dupin/Sherlock Holmes – The parallels are endless.  Both are “consulting detectives” who work in nebulous and sometimes contrary ways with the local constabulary.
  3. Narrator/Dr. Watson – One “innovation” for which Doyle might be credited is that he named his narrator, whereas Dupin’s collaborator/assistant remains unnamed throughout Poe’s works.
  4. Inspector G_____ (Prefect of Parisian police)/LeStrade (Scotland Yard) – The bumbling representatives of local law enforcement.  Just smart enough to get the basic facts, but lacking in the insight necessary to discern the meaning behind those facts.
  5. Meerschaum before meerschaum was cool – Dupin is characterized as smoking a meerschaum pipe in The Purloined Letter.  Although neither the pipe nor the iconic deerstalker cap are found in Doyle’s writings, it is clear that they were appropriated for most of the best known portrayals of Holmes on screen and operate as a costuming shorthand for suggesting a Holmes-like character.
  6. Specific Address – It is unusual to specify an address in literary works, as this fixes the characters and stories in a specific place and time, but in the case of Dupin and Holmes, the addresses are given with great particularity.
    1. Dupin – au troisiême, No. 33, Rue Dunôt, Faubourg St. Germain, Paris
    2. Holmes – 221BBaker Street,London
  7. Criticizing predecessors

In A Study in Scarlet, Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes meet. Dr. Watson, in trying to figure out his strange new roommate Holmes out and states:

“It is simple enough as you explain it,” I said, smiling. “You remind me of Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin. I had no idea that such individuals did exist outside of stories.”

Sherlock Holmes rose and lit his pipe. “No doubt you think that you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin,” he observed. “Now, in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow. That trick of his of breaking in on his friends’ thoughts with an apropos remark after a quarter of an hour’s silence is really very showy and superficial. He had some analytical genius, no doubt; but he was by no means such a phenomenon as Poe appeared to imagine.”


Doyle, in turn was following on Poe’s similar approach. In “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” Dupin criticized his predecessor, the detective Vidocq:

 ”Vidocq…was a good guesser, and a persevering man. But, without educated thought, he erred continually by the very intensity of his investigations.”


And one thing that Poe stole from Sherlock:


Remind you of something?