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Sherlock Holmes

The Ever Evolving Icon

by techgnotic
Wed Mar 14, 2012, 7:20 PM

What is it about a fictional character first introduced to the public in Great Britain in 1887 that has kept him being reincarnated, with generationally-correct upgrades, over and over again in film and on television? Who is this literary hero whose portrayal over the past century by such past masters as Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett to today’s vanguard talents Robert Downey, Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch has inspired such a continuing outpouring of fan appreciation?

Every generation will forever have their “true” Sherlock Holmes. Basil Rathbone in the 1940s will no doubt remain in heavy rotation on TCM as the “final word” in the Holmes persona. More objective film scholars consider Jeremy Brett’s interpretation of Holmes on British TV from 1984-94 to be truest to the Conan Doyle stories and definitive. The Holmes brought to BBC TV in 2010 and still enthralling fans today in the USA as well as Britain is a modern-day version of the detective played by Benedict Cumberbatch as a sort of brilliant eccentric yet very cool outsider. And then we have Robert Downey’s fan-pleasing Holmes whose adventures are left in the Victorian era but are anachronistically supercharged with 2012 high-tech Hollywood effects, not to mention Holmes’ acquisition of a flippant tongue and cynical sensibility seemingly borrowed from James Bond.

So many different Sherlock Holmeses!

Yet they all work so well with their respective fans.

What’s the common thread?

When Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes back in 1887, he equipped his detective “super-hero” with all of what were the cutting-edge “powers” just then coming into vogue: Holmes is as an early forensic scientist, pre-dating the CSI shows by a hundred years; he is a master decipherer of trace evidence, fingerprints, ballistics and handwriting; he plays violin, but is also adept in the martial arts. He outwits his opponents with “deductive reasoning,” usually summing up his amazingly inerrant analyses with, “You see, it’s elemental, my dear Watson.” (Watson was his ever-present sidekick and witness to his genius, thus establishing the “superhero sidekick” well before Batman’s “Alfred.”)

Sherlock Holmes was, in 1887, the closest thing to a Superman, Batman, or X-Men. In fact, those later heroes and many more all cribbed pieces of his cool persona for their own identities.

I think the reason Sherlock has remained so iconically popular with audiences for over a hundred years is that his character speaks to a deep desire in so many of us: the dream of being able to not only make practical use of, but to actually be a master of all the latest resources, all the newest information, all the most current science and technology – not to mention being engaged at the same time in the fine arts at a scholarly level.

Sherlock Holmes won his battles against evil because he was able to possess and utilize all the newest, breaking science and technique available. So of course, in our times of overwhelming informational overload and finding ourselves in a neverending state of tech device and data catch-up, the Holmes character attracts and engages us. He is truly our Renaissance-Futurist role model. From Rathbone to Downey, he is the ultimate evolving icon, the Forever Master of our ever-accelerating ever-evolving high-tech and super-science society.

Questions for the Reader


Does it bother you when the depiction of a favorite fictional literary character is radically altered in film or on TV over and over again? Or does it all depend on the quality of the depiction and the story?


Most of the muscle-bound comics superheroes beginning in the 1930s-40s also seemed to possess great intellects along with their dominating physiques. Do you think this was because of being influenced by the Holmes character of 30 years before? Or just a coincidence – since if as character has a super-strength body, why not a matching super-strength brain?


Which Sherlock Holmes novels or short stories have you read?


In which way do you prefer your adventure story hero to achieve his/her final victory:

  1. His/her superior intellect; puzzle-solving skills.
  2. Physical strength and fighting skills, and a little good luck.
  3. A mix of both brains and brawn.
  4. Through lone wolf personal action; breaking of rules & protocol.
  5. Through leadership of a team of relative equals.
  6. Other -  Please Elaborate. I would love to know which story ending achievement tropes I might have left off of this list.


Who was/is your favorite Sherlock Holmes -- and why?

  • Basil Rathbone
  • Jeremy Brett
  • Peter Cushing
  • Christopher Lee

  • Robert Downey, Jr.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch
  • Vasiliy Livanov
  • Other


If Sherlock Holmes and Liara T'Soni are the District 3 Tributes in the 74th Annual Hunger Games. Who survives and why?

What is it about a fictional character first introduced to the public in Great Britain in 1887 that has kept him being reincarnated, with generationally-correct upgrades, over and over again in film and on television?
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  • Mood: Lazy
  • Listening to: The whirr of my computer
  • Reading: Yu Yu Hakusho fanfiction
  • Watching: The Entire series of Yu Yu Hakusho... again :D
  • Playing: WITH YOUR MIND!!!
  • Eating: Nothing
  • Drinking: Tea - nice hot cuppa tea...
"Watson's right. Nobody cares what he says — the internet has already decided. In fact, from the minute Sherlock appeared, the instant audience conclusion was that Holmes and Watson were lovers. Cumberbatch and Freeman have been dealing with the fallout ever since, in part with good humour, in part with mild exasperation. "Much as Sherlock adores John, and he's fond of him, there's no love, there's nothing sexual — all the jokes aside," Cumberbatch says. "The problem is, they [the jokes in the script] fuel the fantasy of the few into flames for the many. People presume that's what it is, but it's not."

The series has inspired cultish devotion that easily outstrips its short first run.Hardcore Sherlock fans have taken to sites such as Tumblr in order to imagine what Holmes and Watson might get up to once the deduction is done for the day. Cue much nervous giggling between Freeman and Cumberbatch. "There is weird fan fiction out there — weird," Cumberbatch says. "They write stories and do manga cartoons of what they think you get up to behind closed doors. Some of it's funny. Some of it's full-on sex. Get Martin to show you some."

Freeman, who hasn't had a laptop for long, and is thus new to the wonders of slash fiction, suggests that I look it up myself, but is happy to précis: "There are a lot of people hoping that our characters and ourselves are rampantly at it most of the time."

The fact that the two leads in Sherlock are now to appear in The Hobbit, another cult favourite, has sent the fantasists haywire. "It's already started," Freeman says, unfurling the fatigued, world's-gone-mad look that he has practically trademarked. "There are cartoons where Smaug has Sherlock's blue scarf and hair. And Bilbo's got a woolly jumper like John wears, and they're snuggling up on a rug. I think it's tongue in cheek — which saves it from being really scary. It's people doing it knowing they've got too much time on their hands."

-The Sunday Times, January 1 2012

My fellow Sherlockians and Holmsians, please take just a FEW MOMENTS to read this… I would really appreciate it.

So yes, apparently the boys know everything. That picture they describe? I've seen it several times [I could probably easily find it if I wanted] And I've seen these people who say they're going to stop tagging Benedict and Martin's names in their posts so that the boys can't find what they're saying about them. I won't.

I refuse to tag my posts any differently. I love Martin and I love Benedict. In fact, I love all the cast that they've put together for Sherlock. I'm a classic Arthur Conan Doyle fan, having read every single one of the stories and books, along with all the extra stories that have been written. I've watched all the different actors portray Holmes and Watson and Benedict and Martin are another two of those men.

Now Sherlock done by BBC does have a special spot in my heart out of all the different versions because it was done by two men, Moffat and Gatiss, who are, like myself, true Holmsians. They've read all the stories, just like I have, and give the story a new twist by making it in the modern day. They bring forward to the story aspects from the original writing, which a lot of people tend to cut out when they re-make something. I appreciate that. They also show us the characters that are there besides just Holmes and Watson, or here, besides just Sherlock and John. You get a better feeling of the sibling rivalry between Sherlock and Mycroft, you learn about the tense relationship between Sherlock and Lestrade [even if we don't know his first name still] and how John eases that. We now, thanks to the new episode, see in more detail the relationship between Irene and Sherlock that I could never have imagined on my own just based on Doyle's writing. You see how important Mrs Hudson is, and you see the very acute similarities between Sherlock and Jim.

The characters of this series were always real in my mind as a child  and these two men have given me a better aspect of what they would be like today.

So yes, I am a John/Sherlock shipper. Do I ship Martin/Benedict? Not really, they're both fantastic actors but I know neither of them are gay. Martin is happily married with children and Benedict I believe has a very lovely girl friend right now. Am I happy for these men that have so changed my life? Yes. I do love the skewed form of imagination that I have which lets me believe that Sherlock and John have a romantic relationship, but I also love the relationship they have a friends.

I can take in stride, the different homosexual and heterosexual relationships that the fan's have paired together. Hell, I even support some of the really crack pairings of the characters and inanimate objects, such as John/Jam or Mycroft/umbrella, but more so for the entertainment value than anything else.

I've gone with this fandom since the beginning and I will be with it till the end. Will I be upset at the end of series two when John and Sherlock haven't swooned at each other's feet, proclaiming their undying love for one another in a homoerotic fashion? No. It would be funny as hell to witness that, seeing Benedict and Martin act the scene's out, but I know that it won't happen because all Holmes and Watson are, all Sherlock and John are, is friends.

Will I continue to ship John/Sherlock? Yes. I doubt that anyone in the world could convince me to stop thinking about John and Sherlock together, it's just set in my way that I think like that. But I can appreciate the actual friendship that the two characters have for one another without letting my slashy-fangirl mind get in the way.

Will I continue to write fanfiction and draw fanart about the two characters, being portrayed by our ever lovely Martin and Benedict? Yes, I probably will. I will also probably continue to do it with the original characters done up by Doyle, the Granada Holmes version and the Guy Ritchie version as well because, you guessed it, I'm that much of a Holmsian that I don't care and none are really better than any of the others. They are always, to me, Sherlock Holmes and Dr John H Watson.

I will continue to tag, I don't care if Martin and Benedict see this [it would be actually pretty cool if they did, you know?] because I know that they will appreciate me being what I am, a fan, taking time out of their busy lives [and trust me, with 5 brothers, attending Uni for my Bachelors in Criminal Justice and planning to go to Law School at Oxford in a year in a half, life can get pretty hectic for me] to show, give, and spread love to the amazing fandom that is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.

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Today is the assumed date of birth of perhaps the world's greatest, and definitely most well-known detective, Sherlock Holmes.

created in 1887 by Arthur Conan Doyle, the great detective first appeared in Beaton's Christmas annual, in a Story called 'A Study in Scarlet'. He would move on to cheat death, be beaten by a woman, and appear in 56 short stories, and four novels total before his author stopped writing his advantures. Nearly all the stories are narrated by Holmes' friend, companion, and flatmate, Doctor John Watson. Although holmes has had much to grumble about Watson's writings, he is known perhaps best for his friendship with the man (along with his fondness for pipes, wearing a deerstalker and inverness cape, and saying the words 'Elementary, My dear Watson).

A fun fact is, that Holmes was never mentioned to have worn the atire we so often associate with him, or to have even said his most famous words. This is all part of the legend of Sherlock Holmes.

Soon after Doyle was done with him, Holmes was kindly taken up by hundreds of authors, playwrights, filmmakers, and television show hosts, along with radio shows, and different products for advertising.
And through all this, a kind of legend was created.

Most commonly known are the Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce films of the 1930s and 40s. Easily the most prolific duo, these films set the bar for many who took up the name afterward. They also managed to make Watson into a more duller character than doyle had written, but the spirit of their friendship from the stories is still there.

Also well known is Jeremy Brett, who had played watson in a stage adaptation, and went on to play Holmes in Granda's adaptation of the Canon. Brett is the actor who has been closest to filming every doyle story, but sadly, died before he could. He is known to some as the definitive Holmes, and indeed, looked very much akin to Sidney Paget's original illustrations. His Watsons were both brighter than most previous, and were very much the friend and companion of the books.

And now today, Sherlock Holmes has taken a different, more modern turn. Robert Downey jr has starred in two adaptations. Jude Law as his Watson is very much in the spirit of the books, though some of the characters, and even Holmes himself is a bit off. But these films have their credit of introducing Holmes to a modern generation.

Even now, Holmes is modernised in both America and Britain, with Johnny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch playing the great detective. Miller's is a great American crime show, with fun illusions to the canon, for those who can spot them. Cumberbatch's is closer to Doyle's, but with some marvellous modern twists.

However you Know sherlock Holmes on film, any adaptation is worth the watch as there have been over 70 actors to play the man. (I've included a pretty complete list)

Also of note are some of the many books (pastiches) that are written. From Laurie R King's Mary russell novels (set in Holmes' retirement) to Neil Gaiman's short stories, to even a few children's and young adults books, Holmes is everywhere in print.

Also of note are the Sherlock Holmes societies, the most well-known being the Sherlock Holmes society of London, and the Baker Street Irregulars (in the US). These are the people know as Holmesians, or Sherlockians, who have spent their time researching and writing upon the great detective. Leslie S Klinger, Laurie R King, and David Stuart Davies are three of the well-known ones (Klinger did a fantastic annoted Canon, King, as mentioned had written the Mary Russel series, and edited a book with klinger, entitled 'a Study in Sherlock', and Davies is known for several novels, and a book on the many screen and stage adaptations).

Sherlockian, or just a fan, Sherlock Holmes is a fascinating character, with much to offer to all audiences. I for one look forward very eagerly for the upcoming years of Sherlock Holmes.

Below is a list of films and TV for anyone interested (all images were brought up by google image search):

Sherlock Holmes Baffled (1900)
Sherlock Holmes: unknown

A Study in scarlet (1914)
Sherlock Holmes: James Bragington

The Valley of Fear (1916)
SH: HA Saintsburg

The Aventures of Sherlock Holmes (1921)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1921)
The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1922)
The Last Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1923)
The Sign of Four (1923)
SH: Ellie Norwood

Moriarty [US title: Sherlock Holmes] (1922)
SH: John Barrymore

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1929)
SH: Clive Brook

The Speckled Band (1931)
SH: Raymond Massey

The Sleeping Cardinal (1931)
The Missing Rembrandt (1932)
The Sign of Four (1932)
The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes (1935)
Silver Blaze [US title: Murder at the Baskervilles] (1937)
SH: Arthur Wonter

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1931)
SH: Robert Rendel

Sherlock Holmes (1932)
SH: Clive Owen

A Study in Scarlet (1933)
SH: Reginald Owen

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939)
The Voice of Terror (1942)
The Secret Weapon (1942)
Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943)
The Spider Woman (1944)
The Scarlet Claw (1944)
Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943)
The Pearl of Death (1944)
The House of Fear (1945)
The Woman in Green (1945)
Pursuit to Algiers (1945)
Terror by Night (1946)
Dressed to Kill [Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Code] (1946)
SH: Basil Rathbone

Sherlock Holmes (1953-54)
SH: Ronald Howard

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)
SH: Peter Cushing

Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1962)
SH: Christopher Lee

Sherlock Holmes (1964-65)
SH: Douglas Wilmer

A Study in Terror (1965)
SH: John Neville

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes (1968)
SH: Peter Cushing

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)
SH: Robert Stephens

They Might Be Giants (1971)
Justin Playfair (believes himself to be SH): George C Scott

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1972)
SH: Stewart Granger

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (1975)
SH: Douglas Wilmer
(Sigerson: Gene Wilder)

The Seven Per-Cent Solution (1976)
SH: Nicol Williamson

Sherlock Holmes in New York (1976)
SH: Rodger Moore

Murder by Decree (1979)
SH: Christopher Plummer

Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson (1979-80)
SH: Geoffrey Whitehead

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson (1979-86)
SH: Visaly Vivanov

Young Sherlock (1982)
SH: Guy Henry

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1982)
SH: Tom Baker

The Sign of Four (1983)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983)
SH: Ian Richardson

The Baker Street Boys (1983)
SH: Roger Ostime
(Wiggins: Jay Simpson)

Sherlock Holmes (1984)
SH (voice): Peter O'Toole

The Masks of Death (1984)
SH: Peter Cushing

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1984-85)
The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1986-88)
The Sign of Four (1987)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1988)
The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (1991)
The Master Blackmailer (1992)
The Last Vampyre (1993)
The Eligible Bachelor (1993)
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1994)
SH: Jeremy Brett

Young Sherlock Holmes [Young Sherlock Holmes and the Pyramid of fear] (1985)
SH: Nicholas Rowe

The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
Basil (voice): Barrie Ingham

The Return of Sherlock Holmes ((1987)
SH: Michael Pennington

Without a Clue (1988)
SH: Michael Cain

Hands of a Murderer (1990)
SH: Edward Woodward

The Crucifer of Blood (1991)
SH: Charlton Heston

The Four Oaks Mystery (1992)
SH: Jeremy Brett

SH: The Golden Years:
The Leading Lady (1992)
Incident at Victoria Falls (1992)
SH: Christopher Lee

1994 Baker Street: Sherlock Holmes Returns (1993)
SH: Anthony Higgins

Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century (1999-2001)
SH (voice): Jason Gray-Stanford

Sherlock Hound (2001)
Animated, Japanese anime and US cartoon

Murder Rooms: The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes (2000-2001)
Arthur Conan Doyle: Robin Laing, Charles Edwards

The Hound of the Baskervilles (2000)
The Sign of Four (2001)
The Royal Scandal (2001)
The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire (2002)
SH: Matt Frewer

Sherlock-Case of Evil (2002)
SH: James D'Arcy

The Hound of The Baskervilles (2002)
SH: Richard Roxburgh

The Strange Case of Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle (2005)
Doyle: Douglas Hemshall

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking (2004)
SH: Rupert Everett

Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars (2007)
SH: Jonathan Pryce

Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)
SH: Robert Downey Jr

Sherlock (2010-?)
(Series 3 in the works now)
SH: Benedict Cumberbatch

Elementary (2012-?)
SH: Johnny Lee Miller

Sherlock Holmes (2013)
SH: Igor Pentrenko

A View from the Landing at 221b Baker Street
(in talks currently)

And if you read this whole thing or at least skimmed it, I love you :sherlock:
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"I'm a consulting detective... the only one in the world."
Sherlock and John by hoo0
sherlock by dotdodoe

Sherlock by AmandaTolleson
BBC Sherlock John Watson Card by kevinbolk       Wholock: believe in Sherlock by SherlockShiverNShake     Sherlock by Ysa 
Sherlock, Moriarty by hoo0
Sherlock by AmandaTolleson   Sherlock at 221b by Nero749    
Sherlock by AmandaTolleson
Drugs Bust by naturalshocks
'Sherlock' by sueworld
Sherlock by joniina
Number Systems by naturalshocks   Still the Addict by naturalshocks Gottle o' Gear by naturalshocks
Sherlock by MP-R

Molly Hooper by alicexz  Lestrade by alicexz  The Woman by alicexz 
Sherlock and Irene by Olga-Tereshenko Irene Adler - painting by Lasse17
Specialist in Crime by naturalshocks  The Woman by naturalshocks  In Arduis Fidelis by naturalshocks
Trust by naturalshocks
The Stranger's Room by naturalshocks
A Magic Trick by naturalshocks
Living with Sherlock Holmes by Nero749
  Riddles by naturalshocks  The Man With A Key by hakuku  
The Game is On by SylwiaTelari
Sherlock! by frogstarr 
Suspended by suspenders by Anaeolist John, I moustache you a question [LIVE ON QWERTEE] by Blue-Fayt   I Don't Shave For Sherlock Holmes by vincentsdeviantart 
Abbey Road - Sherlock Style by SherlockROCKSmySOCKS
Kigurumi!! by Oochami
How to Bake a Cake by patatomato
Sherlocked by Cloudrop
BBC Sherlock: Kids by hakuku
Sherlock Holmes BBC by Bran1313
Colleagues by naturalshocks
The Wall Had It Coming by naturalshocks  Ennui by naturalshocks  Spectacularly Ignorant by naturalshocks
A Little Domestic by naturalshocks
The Fall by escume
Sherlock BBC 2 by Bran1313  Believe in Sherlock by joniina
Sherlock Holmes by SakariSingh
The Thrill of the Chase by naturalshocks
John Watson by beth193
Violinist by Nero749
Sherlock by AmandaTolleson
Sherlock Portrait by Nero749
The Holmes by Alea-Lefevre
 Breakdown by Fantaasiatoidab   Sherlock by Lyvyan
 I Believe in Mycroft Holmes. by dummybunny   Hero of the Reichenbach by naturalshocks 
The Only One in the World by naturalshocks  
Sherlock re-design: wild west by hakuku
Sherlock by Auri3
Virtuoso by alicexz
Sherlock Color Pencil Drawing by AtomiccircuS
BBC ~Sherlock Holmes and John Watson by speedportraits
We can't wait to know why! What's your favorite Sherlock deviation? Share your suggested Sherlock fan art pieces in the comments and I will add more to this feature!
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I rewrote the words to I Want You (She's So Heavy) Just for fun

I want cookie
I want a cookie so bad
I want a cooookiiee
I want a cookie so bad
It's driving me mad
It's driving me mad
I want a cookie
I want a cookie so bad, man!
I want a coooookiiiiee
I want a cookie so bad
It's driving me mad
It's driving me mad
I want a cookie
I want a cookie so bad
I want a cooookiiieee
I want a cookie so bad
It's driving me mad
It's driving me mad
I'm so Huuunnnggrry!!!!
hungry! hungry! hungry!
I'm so Huuunnnggrry!!!!
I'm so hungry!
hungry! hungry!
I want a cookie
I want a cookie so bad
I want a cookie
I want a cookie so bad
It's driving me mad
It's driving me mad
I want a cookie!
You know I want a cookie so bad, man!
I want a coookiiee!
You know I want a cookie so bad
It's driving me mad
It's driving me mad
I'm so
  • Mood: Content
  • Listening to: The TV
  • Reading: This
  • Watching: Regular Show
  • Playing: The game (you lost!)
  • Eating: Grilled cheese
  • Drinking: Milk
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  • Mood: Enjoying The Show
  • Listening to: my parents
  • Reading: nothing but you shoud
  • Watching: ghost adventures
  • Playing: nothing
  • Eating: skittles
  • Drinking: nothing .…
i'm sorry but this vid made me laugh too hard
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Cuddling. Sherlock and Lestrade.

   - I think I do like this whole cuddling thing.

   - That's good to know.

(Lestrade has probably a list where he writes down what Sherlock accepts on physical contact and what not: Link XD)
  • Mood: Sadness
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Victor, Sherlock and Lestrade. They are lost in the middle of nowhere. Sherlock is sick.

- There is no signal. That's absolutely fantastic. We are in the middle of nowhere and Sher is burning up.
- Stop it. I am fine. I don't know were the problem is.
- The problem is that you are running a high fever. We are lost. There is a snowstorm and Victor doesn't get a signal otherwise everything is peachy.

They found a cabin - a little shelter against the storm.

   - Is he better? He needs to drink something.
   - No, he is still burning up and shivering like a leaf. I am worried.
  • Mood: Love
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Family portray. John Watson, Greg Lestrade, Sherlock Holmes, Victor Trevor and Mycroft Holmes.
  • Mood: Sadness
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Another picture. Three handsome men for my dear Impishtubist. :-) An early Christmas present. I hope you like them. I also hope Victor looks like you pictured him. ^^ I wanted again to thank you for sharing such wonderful stories with us. Never stop to write, my dear. The day you will stop will be a really sad one.

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