Sherlock Holmes was born (on paper) in 1888, but he's as much an icon today as Marilyn Monroe or Harry Potter. What makes a literary figure universally appealing? Surely a well-developed character with personal foibles and self-destructive tendencies can draw us into a character, but Sherlock Holmes gives us so much more. Mystery has an appeal that touches every generation. The young and old alike appreciate a good surprise, with clues along the way to make the journey personal. But Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was more than a mystery writer. He also chronicled his times so that his stories also survive as historical fiction. He gives us insights into the lives of the highest and lowest society of nineteenth century England, fascinating us by taking us places we can never venture on our own. And Holmes is still more than mystery and historical fiction. Dr. Watson introduces us to the forensic sciences of the times, giving the stories an historical science fiction flair.
Yes, the stories survive on their own merits; but the acting talents of Jeremy Brett in the British television series have made Holmes a new celebrity, and few of us can consider the "whodunit" without thinking first of Sherlock Homes.