In December 1893, The Strand announced the sudden death of Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, so tired of Holmes, had chosen the glorious Reichenbach Falls of the northern Swiss Alps as a worthy resting place, and accordingly ended his life there in The Adventure of the Final Problem.
Twenty thousand Londoners cancelled their subscription to The Strand magazine and hundreds made a public display of their mourning by wearing black armbands.
Conan Doyle imagined Holmes was "destined to be quickly forgotten". He could never have foreseen how important the one man would become both in the history of literature and in the hearts of millions of readers over three centuries.
Today, I re-watched the final episode of Sherlock Season Two. It portrays The Final Problem and ends with Holmes' 'death'. I was shocked at the emotion it carried for me, even the second time round. It was so sickening, so burning and searing, stomach tightening, full of hot tears flowing over a quivering face wet against my hand. It is so rare that things hurt so much. And they hurt so much because you really care, and really love.
Towards the end of Conan Doyle's life, he brooded a sickly aversion to Holmes. A good half of the stories he wrote of him were written with distaste and regret, and yet, I have never become conscious of any feeling against him in the writing.
Sherlock Holmes did not live again after Doyle's attempt to finish them. To Conan Doyle, he died at Reichenbach - a character lost to the rushing torrents of literature. His resurrection, performed superficially by Conan Doyle's hand, was made real by the passion of the people who read it. Sherlock Holmes does not live because Conan Doyle continued writing. He lives because readers continued loving. It is a truth that dictates the classics, the characters that new generations learn about. He is immortal, until the last person on earth forgets.