In this time of the Coronavirus lockdown I find myself watching a bit more television than I would care to. One of our favorite shows is entitled: “Elementary” which for those of you not familiar with the show is about Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Watson.
Set in modern times, “Watson” is female, the location is New York City versus the original version where Watson is a male with both he and Holmes living and working in London, England. But the show is entertaining, holds our interest, and thus enables us to take our minds off what is happening in the world around us at least for a short period of time.
Seeing that I have been known to have a hard time concentrating on one thing at a time, while watching this show my old grey cells formed a question in my head: How did the phrase: “Elementary, my dear Watson!” come about?
It didn’t take much research to learn that the saying evolved over the years. Looking over some of Doyle’s own writings (apparently I am not the first to pose this question), it appears that there is only but one bit of dialog that comes closest to matching this famous Holmesian signature phrase. It can be found within The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (a collection of eleven short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle).
I am referring to an exchange between Holmes and Dr. Watson in the short story entitled: “The Crooked Man”:
“I see that you are professionally rather busy just now,” said he, glancing very keenly across at me. ”Yes, I’ve had a busy day,” I answered. “It may seem very foolish in your eyes,” I added, “but really I don’t know how you deduced it.”
Holmes chuckled to himself.
“I have the advantage of knowing your habits, my dear Watson,” said he. “When your round is a short one you walk, and when it is a long one you use a hansom. As I perceive that your boots, although used, are by no means dirty, I cannot doubt that you are at present busy enough to justify the hansom.”
“Excellent!” I cried.
“Elementary,” said he.
Other than the above, there is no other time when such a phrase was uttered by the fictional detective.
So there you have it. Things that are elementary are simple or not very advanced as one might relate to elementary school or if you enjoy reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s adventures of Sherlock Holmes one might just refer to the famous line, “Elementary, my dear Watson!”
Until next time!