by Sandy Kozinn

Before we review the evidence to be found in the Canon regarding Sherlock Holmes’ ethnicity, I would remind readers that attitudes have changed with changing times. Underlying Dr. Watson’s sacred words are patterns of thought that might be labeled “politically incorrect” had they been written today. Watson wrote the truth, but it is a truth that reflects the beliefs of his own time. As we have learned from the Master, we must accept the conclusions indicated by the facts, however improbable they may be (BERY).

Bearing this in mind, let us follow the trail that the known facts of his life provide.
What do we know of Sherlock Holmes? Who was he, and from whence did he come? Many learned scholars have written on this subject, and their views have been varied. Holmes was a time traveler, seeking Moriarty through the aeons; Holmes was Moriarty. Holmes was the hunter of various Jack the Rippers; Holmes was Jack the Ripper. Holmes was the lover of Irene Adler; Holmes was the lover of Watson the man; Holmes

was the lover of Watson the woman; Holmes was a woman; Holmes married a woman.

None of these identities come from the one man who knew Holmes best. Dr. John H. Watson lived and worked with

Holmes for years.What did he tell us about the Master? The facts are surprisingly sparse, but interpreted correctly, can lead us to the truth.

Watson told us that Holmes had a brother (GREE), high in and invaluable to the British government, but unknown generally (BRUC). Watson told us that Holmes spent some time in University, quite possibly only one year, and that he had almost no friends there (GLOR). Watson told us that Holmes acknowledged the art in his blood (GREE), and we know that Holmes loved music and played a Stradivarius, which he had bought at a great bargain (CARD). We know that he was interested in science (STUD), was a fine actor (SIGN), and had boxed in his youth (GLOR). He knew much


about the major gems of his time (BLUE). During the hiatus, he traveled around the world, and apparently had no difficulty in contacting Mycroft during that time (EMPT). In his later years, he kept bees (LAST). He was tall, thin, and had a hawk-like nose (STUD).

Holmes considered Watson to be the perfect English jury (ABBE), reflecting the Victorian viewpoint, with all its strengths, prejudices and cliches. Although Watson told the truth about what he knew of Holmes’ cases, he often disguised facts or hid conclusions to protect clients. Would Watson do less for his friend? Certainly we can see that although Watson was truthful in his facts as he saw them, he could not openly depict that which is now obvious to us all, but would have been socially damaging to Holmes at that time.

Holmes, of course, was Jewish.

Let us take the points mentioned above and consider them in detail. Why did Mycroft never receive the honor and publicity due him for his work for the British Government? At that time, it was unthinkable that a Jew be raised to high office or admitted to the upper reaches of society. Disraeli, of course, was an exception, but his conversion to Christianity made him somewhat more acceptable. At times Mycroft may have been the British Government (BRUC), but he nevertheless remained an unknown, solitary man because no one in that Government would socialize with a Jew. He saved himself embarrassment by belonging to a club where no one talked to anyone (GREE), so it was less obvious that his fellow clubmen might in any event choose not to talk to him.

Why, as many believe, did Holmes leave University (whichever one he attended) before receiving his degree? Why was he virtually friendless there? Was it not because almost no one in that bastion of young upper-class scions would associate with a Jewish student?

At this point, we must consider the cliches of Victorian thought, which held that Jews were artistic and had a great love of music. Holmes played the violin, often attended concerts and the opera, and admitted to having art in his blood. Why did Holmes himself use the word “blood,” if not to indicate ancestry?
There is some truth in all cliches, and there were indeed more major Jewish artists and musicians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries than might be expected from their proportion of the total population [Index, Encylopaedia Brittanica]. This disproportion also occurred in the field of science, another Holmesian strength [ibid]. Watson would have believed that conforming to these cliches indicated Jewishness.