It would have been a match for the ages – fiction’s most celebrated sociopath versus history’s most revered psychopath. Who would have come out on top?
As 22nd May is known as Sherlock Holmes Day, we ask if the detective had been more than a figment of the imagination of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; would the identity of Jack the Ripper be a mystery at all?
Holmes and his dear friend Dr John Watson formed an alliance so powerful that 221B Baker Street has been turned into a museum of the two characters that have been portrayed by countless actors. When you walk out of the underground station on Baker Street you will be greeted by a statue of Sherlock Holmes, deerstalker and all – a further testament to the works of Doyle.
“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact”
Just one of the many famous quotes of Sherlock Holmes, this one taken from The Boscombe Valley Mystery, first published in Strand Magazine in 1891.
Holmes was famous for refusing to rule out any possibility unless presented with absolute concrete evidence to prove otherwise. Due to the nature of the injuries found on the bodies of Jack the Ripper’s victims, the obvious assumption was that the killer had a surgical background.
Would Holmes have arrived at the same conclusion as the many others before him? Or would the detective regard such an obvious fact to be, in fact, nothing more than a deception on the way to revealing the true identity of the killer?
There is no doubt that Jack the Ripper was more than a common opportunist, otherwise, the killer would have been found out long before completing the infamous Whitechapel murder. But would he have had the mind to outsmart Holmes, who prided himself on seemingly always being one step ahead, and at least two in front of Scotland Yard (which he would have taken great pleasure in boasting)?
Coincidentally, the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Canonical Five murders overlapped. Holmes first appeared in 1887, just a year before the killing in Whitechapel, with Doyle continuing to write stories up until 1927. It is almost inconceivable that the author did not at least use elements of the morbid reality in which he lived through as inspiration for his stories.
The truth is that we will never know if Holmes and Watson would have brought the killer to justice. In fact, some conspiracies believe the man behind the detective to be Jack the Ripper himself.
How plausible is it that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is the brainchild of both the most famous detective and killer that Britain has ever seen? Decide for yourself by taking the Jack the Ripper tour, where you will visit each historic location and be informed of all of its gory details.