Dr. Joe Bell: Model for Sherlock Holmes

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     A distinguished physician and professor of medicine at Edinburgh University, and a forensic expert for the British Crown, Joseph Bell was well known for his remarkable powers of observation and deduction. In what would become true Sherlockian fashion, he had the ability to deduce facts about his patients from otherwise unremarkable details. In one instance recounted by Arthur Conan Doyle himself—and similar to Sherlock Holmes's own observations in "The Greek Interpreter"—Bell took little time to determine that one of his patients had recently served in the army, a non-commissioned officer discharged from his Highland regiment stationed in Barbados:

“The man was a respectful man, but did not remove his hat. They do not in the army, but he would have learned civilian ways had he been long discharged. He has an air of authority and he is obviously Scottish. As to Barbados, his complaint is elephantitis, which is West Indian and not British.”

     Based on extensive research into the life of Bell and including tantalizing accounts of the connections between Bell and Conan Doyle, this biography is required reading for anyone interested in Victorian medicine, in the history of detective fiction, and in Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
 “Thoroughly researched, fully illustrated, and enthusiastically written, [Liebow’s] biography paints a splendid portrait of the man Doyle once called ‘the most notable of the characters whom I met’ at Edinburgh.”—The Baker Street Journal

“[Tells] us much about the man who indirectly has been responsible for as much pleasure as almost anyone who ever lived.”—Marvin Lachman, author of The Heirs of Anthony Boucher

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780879721985
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 286
  • Sales rank: 1,211,771
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Ely M. Liebow is professor emeritus of English at Northeastern Illinois University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction     ix
Foreword     xiv
Afghanistan Perceived: Being the Birth of a Model Detective     1
I Heir the Bells or The Sign of the Four     11
The Prior-y School: Not So Elementary     18
Edinburgh University and the Royal Infirmary-A Study in Scarlet     33
"Gladly Wolde He Lerne and Gladly Teche"-In Pursuit of a Career; A Wife; A Hospital; a Brace of Birds     41
Here's to the Women: Queen Victoria, Florence Nightingale, Sophia Jex-Blake, the Nurses, the Medical Hopefuls     79
"Bell the Busybody"-Editor, Mourner, Master Surgeon, Master Teacher, Forensic Expert For The Crown     106
Dr. Watson, Meet Sherlock Holmes: Dr. Bell, Meet Arthur Conan Doyle     125
Impediments to Early Retirement, Or The Game's Still Afoot: Another Job, Another Book, Jack The Ripper     150
"I Read About You Everywhere": Joe Bell, Model for Sherlock Holmes     172
The Valley Afar: The Yellow-Leaf Days of a Religious Grandfather     192
"Stand With Me Here on the Terrace": The Open Road, Open Graves, Old Memories     210
Coda: Will the Real Model Rest Easy     222
Notes     235
Bibliography     242
Index     247
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