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Holmes the murderer.

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... just as long as he didn't throw a blunt prop at you!

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He was certainly very volatile. Apparently he died in ‘relative’ poverty.

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He was certainly very volatile. Apparently he died in ‘relative’ poverty.

 

He was a fantastic Merlin in Excalibur.  Apparently some years prior to this film, Nicol had co-starred with his Morgana, Helen Mirren, in another project and they were lovers for a time . . he being considerably older than she.  These two passionate actors attracted each other for a time, but then they became opposite charges repelling.  After a bitter breakup they could not stand each other.

 

Director John Boorman knew this and used the couple's animosity to his advantage.  I think he'd actually attached Helen first and then hired Nicol fully aware of their past history.  Just so the love-hate relationship between Merlin and Morgana would be extra-saucy.

 

Merlin's distinctive headdress was fashioned by a talented costume designer after Williamson flatly refused to shave his head for the part.

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He was certainly very volatile. Apparently he died in ‘relative’ poverty.

He was a fantastic Merlin in Excalibur. Apparently some years prior to this film, Nicol had co-starred with his Morgana, Helen Mirren, in another project and they were lovers for a time . . he being considerably older than she. These two passionate actors attracted each other for a time, but then they became opposite charges repelling. After a bitter breakup they could not stand each other.

 

Director John Boorman knew this and used the couple's animosity to his advantage. I think he'd actually attached Helen first and then hired Nicol fully aware of their past history. Just so the love-hate relationship between Merlin and Morgana would be extra-saucy.

 

Merlin's distinctive headdress was fashioned by a talented costume designer after Williamson flatly refused to shave his head for the part.

I read about the past history of Mirren and Williamson. They really appeared to loathe each other.

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... or maybe Moftiss are correct, and he actually meant her to be another evil Hibernian, deep undercover (as it were)?

 

Aha, that's where they got the idea from ... it's canon!! Carol, you're brilliant.

 

I was just reading Wikipedia on Nicol Williamson who played Holmes in The Seven Percent Solution (because that’s the kind of saddo I am

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I only seen him in 2 or 3 roles and he was very intense in all of them. I think it suited The Seven Percent Solution though as he was in the grip of a cocaine addiction.

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For me Williamson is one of the actors who have played Holmes once that I’d have liked to have seen play the detective again. Others include the excellent John Neville also Robert Stephens, Tom Baker and Rupert Everett.

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Great question!  I wrote a post with my theory about this and similar.  In short, Moriarty was innocent, Sherlock Holmes was the criminal mastermind.  Would appreciate thoughts and feedback.

 

All my arguments only use as source Arthur Conan Doyle's works.

 

The post is available at https://medium.com/galileo-onwards/moriarty-was-innocent-e39610eab8bc

 

Thanks

Vijay

 

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I enjoyed reading your work. I don’t really have time for a longer reply but I’d just question one part.

“ Who but Holmes could invent a ruse guaranteed to make Watson withdraw?

Because remember, for all his alleged brilliance, Moriarty didn’t even know what Sherlock Holmes looked like. When they first met (according to Holmes), all Moriarty said was, “You have less frontal development that I should have expected”. When he knew nothing about his enemy, Holmes, how could he be expected to invent a story so perfect that it would make Watson leave?”

Surely you aren’t saying that just because Moriarty only made a brief comment on Holmes’ appearance that he didn’t know what he looked like? They met in Holmes sitting room and the meeting lasted a for a few minutes. They were face to face so Moriarty would have known exactly what Holmes looked like. As for being able to ‘invent a perfect story,’ well he knew that Watson was a doctor and that he would feel obliged to go and help a potentially dying woman. Holmes also reassured him that he should go and that they would meet up later.

We also have ‘The Empty House’ were Moriarty’s right-hand man Colonel Sebastian Moran attempts to assassinate Holmes and is caught by Holmes and Watson.

I’d also find it impossible to believe in a criminal Holmes because of his close relationship to Watson who would surely have had some suspicion.More tellingly we would expect his brother Mycroft to have had suspicions if Holmes was up to anything untoward as he knew him intimately.

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That should read ‘one part’ rather than ‘part part,’ of course.

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I enjoyed reading your work. I don’t really have time for a longer reply but I’d just question part part.

 

“ Who but Holmes could invent a ruse guaranteed to make Watson withdraw?

 

Because remember, for all his alleged brilliance, Moriarty didn’t even know what Sherlock Holmes looked like. When they first met (according to Holmes), all Moriarty said was, “You have less frontal development that I should have expected”. When he knew nothing about his enemy, Holmes, how could he be expected to invent a story so perfect that it would make Watson leave?”

 

Surely you aren’t saying that just because Moriarty only made a brief comment on Holmes’ appearance that he didn’t know what he looked like? They met in Holmes sitting room and the meeting lasted a for a few minutes. They were face to face so Moriarty would have known exactly what Holmes looked like. As for being able to ‘invent a perfect story,’ well he knew that Watson was a doctor and that he would feel obliged to go and help a potentially dying woman. Holmes also reassured him that he should go and that they would meet up later.

 

We also have ‘The Empty House’ were Moriarty’s right-hand man Colonel Sebastian Moran attempts to assassinate Holmes and is caught by Holmes and Watson.

 

I’d also find it impossible to believe in a criminal Holmes because of his close relationship to Watson who would surely have had some suspicion.More tellingly we would expect his brother Mycroft to have had suspicions if Holmes was up to anything untoward as he knew him intimately.

 

I remember vividly the shock I experienced when I first read Holmes' & Moriarty's encounter in 'The Final Problem'.  The legendary clash of two titans which was to come at the falls of Reichenbach was presaged by this brief, rather limp meeting in Baker Street?  With the two adversaries only just meeting in the flesh for the first time, and having what would amount to the first of their only two face-to-face conversations ever?

 

I'd daresay that even people who have never read a single Sherlock Holmes story have heard of 'Professor Moriarty'--he is the prototype for all arch villains to come after him--and here, Conan Doyle only used him a scant few times in the Canon--in two stories and referred to in a third.  That's it?  That's it???  I was incredulous, because Moriarty's reputation is so gargantuan--it looms over the stories, casting a long shadow.  We might argue that Professor Moriarty made Sherlock Holmes into what he was, or at least gave him a primary focus for those prodigious powers of his . . and yet, of the man himself, this arch-nemesis--we barely see.

 

Small wonder that chroniclers to follow embraced the Professor as a pastiche subject, because ACD really dropped the ball here.  I am in accord with Mr. Baring-Gould and others who suggest that Holmes's antipathy toward the Professor took on the features of an obsessive quest to bring him down which would seem disproportionate if the two had in fact, never met.  There is a decidedly personal element to Holmes's vendetta against the Professor.  Something that goes far, far back into Holmes's past.  Something so profoundly personal/hurtful that Holmes never broached it to his fellow lodger, chronicler and best friend.  Oh, these two are well-acquainted, all right.  Despite what SH says about Charles Augustus Milverton or any of the other villains he dealt with, there is one in particular that has gotten under his skin like no other, and that's Moriarty.  The Professor is enough older to Holmes to have been his teacher . . .Mr. Baring-Gould says that M. was SH's private maths tutor prior to Holmes coming up to university.  Perhaps.  An adolescent Sherlock would have been deeply impressionable.  Did he hero-worship his teacher until Something putrid intruded to put him off Moriarty--and more--to hate him with a deep sense of betrayal?  One does not want to conjecture upon anything sexual between teacher and pupil--neither M. nor SH seems that way inclined.  I favor a more intellectual betrayal.  Perhaps M. was a young don at SH's unnamed university, and venerated by his pupil until said pupil discovered undeniable evidence of his teacher's criminal leanings.  That would have been a huge betrayal to one as finely-attuned as young Holmes.  Maybe the Prof was a Mason, and using his Masonic lodge as a front for something unsavory.  Whatever it was, SH and Moriarty definitely have a personal history.  Moriarty's comment in TEH about Holmes's lack of frontal development would be in keeping with a man who had known SH many years before as a boy & is saying the adult Sherlock did not live up to his expectations in that department.

 

I can't believe the two never met until just before they 'went over the Falls' together.  It does not compute.

 

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Thanks for reading!

 


Surely you aren’t saying that just because Moriarty only made a brief comment on Holmes’ appearance that he didn’t know what he looked like? They met in Holmes sitting room and the meeting lasted a for a few minutes. They were face to face so Moriarty would have known exactly what Holmes looked like.

 

Yes, that was my point.  Until then, just a few days before Holmes's trap was set, neither of them knew what the other looked like.  (Or so Holmes claimed.)

 

As for being able to ‘invent a perfect story,’ well he knew that Watson was a doctor and that he would feel obliged to go and help a potentially dying woman.

 

But look at the phrasing!  "was impossible to refuse the request of a fellow countrywoman dying in a strange land" (my emphasis).

 

Holmes also reassured him that he should go and that they would meet up later.

 

Holmes wanted to escape from all this so it's natural he would direct Watson to leave.  Because only if Watson were away could Holmes effect his deception and disappear.

 

I’d also find it impossible to believe in a criminal Holmes because of his close relationship to Watson

 

I cite Watson's insight into Holmes's criminal instincts (The Sign of the Four).  I also say "Okay, so Watson was fooled. This is hardly surprising because in the stories Watson is always fooled."

 

More tellingly we would expect his brother Mycroft to have had suspicions if Holmes was up to anything untoward as he knew him intimately.

 

We know next to nothing about Moriarty.  Perhaps he was in on it with Holmes.  Perhaps he didn't want to tell on his brother.   Who is to know.

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I can't believe the two never met until just before they 'went over the Falls' together.  It does not compute.

 

 

I'm merely quoting from the story.  Furthermore, we don't know exactly when Holmes (allegedly) discovered Moriarty's identity.  Here's how Holmes describes it, in The Final Problem

 

For years past I have continually been conscious of some power behind the malefactor, some deep organising power which forever stands in the way of the law, and throws it shield over the wrong-doer. Again and again in cases of the most varying sorts—forgery cases, robberies, murders—I have felt the presence of this force, and I have deduced its action in many of those undiscovered crimes in which I have not been personally consulted. For years I have endeavoured to break through the veil which shrouded it, and at last the time came when I seized my thread and followed it, until it led me, after a thousand cunning windings, to ex-Professor Moriarty of mathematical celebrity. [my emphasis]

 

Thanks

Vijay

 

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We also have ‘The Empty House’ were Moriarty’s right-hand man Colonel Sebastian Moran attempts to assassinate Holmes and is caught by Holmes and Watson.

 

I forgot to respond to this one earlier.  There are two possibilities

 

  1. Sebastian Moran knew who Holmes really was, in the last 2 years of Holmes's disappearance, Moran has become the kingpin and with Holmes's return he feels threatened and wants to take him out.  Holmes foils Moran's plans.
  2. Moran didn't know who his real boss was.  Remember, Holmes said "the central power which uses the agent is never caught — never so much as suspected,"  It's possible Moran read Watson's public reply to Col. Moriarty's letter, came to believe Moriarty was his boss and Holmes his enemy.  When he hears Holmes is back he decides to take revenge.
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I can't believe the two never met until just before they 'went over the Falls' together.  It does not compute.

 

 

I'm merely quoting from the story.  Furthermore, we don't know exactly when Holmes (allegedly) discovered Moriarty's identity.  Here's how Holmes describes it, in The Final Problem

 

For years past I have continually been conscious of some power behind the malefactor, some deep organising power which forever stands in the way of the law, and throws it shield over the wrong-doer. Again and again in cases of the most varying sorts—forgery cases, robberies, murders—I have felt the presence of this force, and I have deduced its action in many of those undiscovered crimes in which I have not been personally consulted. For years I have endeavoured to break through the veil which shrouded it, and at last the time came when I seized my thread and followed it, until it led me, after a thousand cunning windings, to ex-Professor Moriarty of mathematical celebrity. [my emphasis]

 

Thanks

Vijay

 

 

Vijay,

 

As far as Conan Doyle goes, you are absolutely correct--what ACD laid out in 'The Final Problem'--and later on, in 'The Valley of Fear' are all the data we get about the Professor, and it's all the data which Sherlock shares with his biographer, at any rate.  Moriarty is also invoked in 'The Red-Headed League' as the mastermind of this bank break-in and the 'employer' of John Clay.

 

For those of us who play the Game of amplifying the scant amount of material ACD left to us for our own entertainment and edification, Sir Arthur did not go nearly far enough, especially where Moriarty is concerned.  Such a meaty villain should have featured in a great many more adventures than he did, to be worthy of Sherlock Holmes' intense focus.  Moriarty has such a primacy of place for the Great Detective that he is willing to undergo an elaborate charade that he is dead for three years, at the cost of great pain to his only and best friend, in order to neutralize Moriarty's organization completely.  Sebastian Moran also is a much more interesting figure than the few references we get of him.  In his own way, he is even deadlier than the professor as an assassin for hire.  The Professor never got his own hands dirty like that.

 

Many talented authors have stepped into the gaping breach left by Conan Doyle here.  The Michaels (Hardwick & Kurland) have extended, extensive portraits of Moriarty in their books.  Theirs are the longest, and I daresay, both writers took as their challenge to make this mathematical monster something recognizably human--and both succeeded.  Both are superior writers to Conan Doyle in that regard, but they had the benefit of more space to work in.  Short works featuring Moriarty as protagonist-villain proliferate as well, and they are all welcome to me as adding more detail to the overall portrait of 'the Napoleon of Crime'.  Someone with a towering reputation as the Napoleon of his field deserves more stage time than Conan Doyle gave him.  Arthur seemed to like to play around with the seamy, grubby little villains in a minor key, like Grimsby Roylott, et. al, while ignoring the Big M. in a most quizzical manner.

 

Welcome to our forum!  We are glad to have you here!

 

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Vijay,

 

As far as Conan Doyle goes, you are absolutely correct--what ACD laid out in 'The Final Problem'--and later on, in 'The Valley of Fear' are all the data we get about the Professor, and it's all the data which Sherlock shares with his biographer, at any rate.  Moriarty is also invoked in 'The Red-Headed League' as the mastermind of this bank break-in and the 'employer' of John Clay.

 

For those of us who play the Game of amplifying the scant amount of material ACD left to us for our own entertainment and edification, Sir Arthur did not go nearly far enough, especially where Moriarty is concerned.  Such a meaty villain should have featured in a great many more adventures than he did, to be worthy of Sherlock Holmes' intense focus.  Moriarty has such a primacy of place for the Great Detective that he is willing to undergo an elaborate charade that he is dead for three years, at the cost of great pain to his only and best friend, in order to neutralize Moriarty's organization completely.  Sebastian Moran also is a much more interesting figure than the few references we get of him.  In his own way, he is even deadlier than the professor as an assassin for hire.  The Professor never got his own hands dirty like that.

 

Many talented authors have stepped into the gaping breach left by Conan Doyle here.  The Michaels (Hardwick & Kurland) have extended, extensive portraits of Moriarty in their books.  Theirs are the longest, and I daresay, both writers took as their challenge to make this mathematical monster something recognizably human--and both succeeded.  Both are superior writers to Conan Doyle in that regard, but they had the benefit of more space to work in.  Short works featuring Moriarty as protagonist-villain proliferate as well, and they are all welcome to me as adding more detail to the overall portrait of 'the Napoleon of Crime'.  Someone with a towering reputation as the Napoleon of his field deserves more stage time than Conan Doyle gave him.  Arthur seemed to like to play around with the seamy, grubby little villains in a minor key, like Grimsby Roylott, et. al, while ignoring the Big M. in a most quizzical manner.

 

Welcome to our forum!  We are glad to have you here!

 

 

 

Thanks for the welcome, Hikari.  It's good to discuss Holmes with fans!

 

I agree with everything you've said.  I'd just like to also point out that since I was making an independent case for my thesis, I necessarily couldn't use other sources.  My post itself, if anyone's interested, is available here.

 

I hadn't heard of Michael Hardwick and Kurland so that's definitely an avenue worth exploring.

 

Conan Doyle considered his historical fiction of a higher quality than Holmes and grew bored writing Holmes.  In fact, when an American author who wrote Sherlock Holmes fanfiction asked if it'd be ok to marry Holmes in a story, Doyle replied he didn't care if Holmes was "married, killed, or burned" (paraphrase).

 

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One issue worth raising, if Holmes was the centre of a vast criminal enterprise, is that we don’t see any evidence of the proceeds. Yes, I suppose that you could postulate that Holmes bought Watson’s practice, but that wouldn’t have soaked up the accumulated gain from a vast crime empire. Holmes and Watson lived comfortably but without extravagances. Indeed they were often pleased when they received payment for a case as they could treat themselves to a meal in a good restaurant.

Even in retirement on the Sussex Downs Holmes lived in a cottage and kept bees.

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One issue worth raising, if Holmes was the centre of a vast criminal enterprise, is that we don’t see any evidence of the proceeds. Yes, I suppose that you could postulate that Holmes bought Watson’s practice, but that wouldn’t have soaked up the accumulated gain from a vast crime empire. Holmes and Watson lived comfortably but without extravagances. Indeed they were often pleased when they received payment for a case as they could treat themselves to a meal in a good restaurant.

Even in retirement on the Sussex Downs Holmes lived in a cottage and kept bees.

 

Excellent questions!

 

We know Holmes never did even his crime fighting for the money.  It was always to keep his mind occupied.  Given how much Watson wrote, clearly he didn't want to be incriminated by his clueless companion.

 

Furthermore, if you look at The Valley of Fear, Holmes describes "Moriarty's" living quarters.  Those certainly were extravagant.

 

Also, my thesis is that he quit crime after a spiritual revival so is explained the simple life of a beekeeper.

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As you’ve postulated that Holmes might have turned to crime to keep his mind occupied why wouldn’t the problems of solving crimes have served the same purpose?

It’s difficult to see why Holmes, during his periods of cocaine lethargy due to the lack of cases to occupy his mind, wouldn’t simply have filled those ‘voids’ by planning and executing crimes thus avoiding those dark periods. Yet those dark periods happened showing that Holmes had nothing, whether legal or illegal, to occupy his mind.

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As you’ve postulated that Holmes might have turned to crime to keep his mind occupied why wouldn’t the problems of solving crimes have served the same purpose?

It’s difficult to see why Holmes, during his periods of cocaine lethargy due to the lack of cases to occupy his mind, wouldn’t simply have filled those ‘voids’ by planning and executing crimes thus avoiding those dark periods. Yet those dark periods happened showing that Holmes had nothing, whether legal or illegal, to occupy his mind.

 

As always, great questions.  My thesis is that he turned to crime to avoid the need to do drugs.  In other words, I'm saying that when he was doing drugs, Holmes wasn't doing crime.  When he started doing crime, he had no need to do drugs because he was fully occupied.

 

To answer your first question, Holmes himself remarks (The Sign of the Four, I think) that there just isn't enough crime in London to keep him occupied.

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‘When he started doing crime, he had no need to do drugs because he was fully occupied.”

 

My argument would then be that Holmes would have never needed to have turned to drugs because a man of his genius could have planned/executed crimes during any period where there were no crimes to solve. But as we know that Holmes did have ‘drug’ periods we can therefore assume that he wasn’t planning or executing crimes.

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... if Holmes was the centre of a vast criminal enterprise [....] we don’t see any evidence of the proceeds.   [....]

Even in retirement on the Sussex Downs Holmes lived in a cottage and kept bees.

 

Maybe he was a "gentleman beekeeper" -- i.e., in it for the doing of it rather than for the money (like Prince Charles and his organic farm).

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because a man of his genius could have planned/executed crimes during any period where there were no crimes to solve. But as we know that Holmes did have ‘drug’ periods we can therefore assume that he wasn’t planning or executing crimes.

 

Note that I don't claim Holmes did drugs and solve crime and crime.  I claim that he did crime instead of doing crime.  As I say in the blog:

 

I believe Holmes turned to crime to escape his drug addiction and, once he’d kicked the habit, ended his criminal enterprise too. In other words, it’s the age old story: boy does drugs, to quit drugs boy turns to crime; boy quits drugs, boy quits crime.

 

Secondly, genius doesn't mean superhuman.  Just because Holmes was a genius at solving observation and deduction it doesn't follow that he was a genius at everything—he didn't even know the moon went around the earth.

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But surely the point is that we know that Holmes turned to cocaine when he had nothing to occupy his mind. If, as you postulate, Holmes had a criminal empire (like Moriarty) this would surely have kept him fully occupied. I can’t see how Holmes would have had those periods of black moods because of mental inactivity?

 

Simply put - Holmes occasionally used cocaine - therefore Holmes had periods where he was bored/unoccupied - therefore Holmes didnt have anything apart from crime solving to occupy himself - therefore Holmes couldn’t have had a criminal empire.

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Simply put - Holmes occasionally used cocaine - therefore Holmes had periods where he was bored/unoccupied - therefore Holmes didnt have anything apart from crime solving to occupy himself - therefore Holmes couldn’t have had a criminal empire.

 

This too is a point I address in my blog post.  See:

 

[W]e do not read about his drug addiction in the later stories… because (I claim) he found himself a new hobby — crime. Holmes, in many ways, is like those people who play chess games by themselves because they do not find worthy opponents.

 

My point is: my argument takes chronology into account.

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