In a memoir written in 1924, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle recalled the moment some 38 years earlier when he sat down to create the character of Sherlock Holmes.
In particular, he described the various influences that turned his mind toward the idea of a detective story. “Gaboriau had rather attracted me by the neat dovetailing of his plots,” the author wrote, “and Poe’s masterful detective, M. Dupin, had from boyhood been one of my heroes. But could I bring an addition of my own? I thought of my old teacher Joe Bell, of his eagle face, of his curious ways, of his eerie trick of spotting details. If he were a detective he would surely reduce this fascinating but unorganized business to something nearer to an exact science. I would try if I could get this effect.”
Each of these three figures – Poe, Bell and Gaboriau – helped to shape the character of Sherlock Holmes, and each has a fascinating story to tell.