Sherlock Holmes Homework

Howard County Library System, in partnership with Watson’s Tin Box of Ellicott City and Howard County Public Schools, announces the fourteenth annual Sherlock Holmes Essay Contest for all Howard County public, private, and home-schooled seventh grade students.

Students are asked to read the Sherlock Holmes short story, The Adventure of the Speckled Band, and write a five-paragraph analytical essay according to the rules and guidelines of the contest. Students may download a booklet that includes the story, pre-reading activities, a glossary of British terms, specific essay questions, the rubric which will be used in judging the essays and a contest entry form.

The First Prize Winner will receive a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble Booksellers. He/she will also receive a copy of the Complete Sherlock Holmes. In addition, he/ she will receive a certificate from Watson’s Tin Box and will have the essay published in the next publication of Irene’s Cabinet, an annual publication of the Tin Box.

The Second and Third Prize Winners will each receive $25 gift cards to Barnes & Noble Booksellers, a copy of the Complete Sherlock Holmes, and a certificate from Watson’s Tin Box.

Teachers who choose to have their classes participate will forward to Watson’s Tin Box the top two essays from each of his/her classes. Home-schooled students may send their essay to the Watson’s Tin Box address listed in the booklet. Entries should be received no later than May 31, 2018.

Participants and prize-winners will be recognized at an awards ceremony on June 14; 7 – 8 pm at HCLS Central Branch.

Special thanks to Watson’s Tin Box of Ellicott City and Howard County Public School System, the contest co-sponsors.

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Congratulations to the 2017 Winners!

First Prize – Tammie Oladapo, Bonnie Branch Middle School, Ms. Nanni’s Class
Second Prize – Anna Sniezek, Saint Louis School, Ms. Rosenberg’s Class
Third Prize – Gavin Gleeson, Bonnie Branch Middle School, Ms. Nanni’s Class AND Maria Rew, Saint Louis School, Ms. Rosenberg’s Class


On the 22nd May 1859, the man who was to bring the world its most beloved fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. First appearing in print as far back as 1887, Sherlock Holmes has been synonymous with intellect, problem-solving and a knack for stating the obvious (in the wonderfully sarcastic isles of Britain, anyway!).

So, to pay tribute to literature's most famous detective, we have collected together our favourite facts about Sherlock Holmes which we're sure you'll have never heard...

1. Sherlock Holmes is a Guinness World Record holder

In 2012, Guinness World Records announced that Sherlock Holmes had broken the record for the "Most Portrayed Literary Human Character in Film & TV" - an impressive feat! Although the most portrayed character overall is heavily disputed, usually with Sherlock and Dracula having a tussle for the number one spot (and who wouldn't want to see that battle play out!), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's brainy detective officially tops the list for literary humans in film and TV. Since his creation, he has been played by over 75 actors and had starring roles on the big and small screens over 250 times.

2. Only one Sherlock Holmes story wasn't set in the Victorian or Edwardian periods

We will have all noticed the period backdrop to the stories of Sherlock Holmes. But in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's later collections of Sherlock Holmes short stories, the legendary detective is catching spies for British intelligence agencies, finally retiring and spending his days beekeeping!

3. Sherlock Holmes's parents are never mentioned in any of his stories

Not one mention - imagine being poor Roger and Daphne Holmes (presumed names!). You would be livid, right?! Though he was never the sentimental sort, the only mention of Sherlock Holmes's family in any of the Sherlock stories (apart from his brother, Mycroft) is in reference to his ancestors.

4. Sherlock Holmes never said "Elementary, my dear Watson"

"Elementary" - yes. "My dear Watson" - but, of course. The time-old combination of the two phrases, however - never once did it leave his lips. This, though, didn't stop it becoming a huge part of popular culture and part of Sherlockian folk law. If you're interested, it was apparently first uttered in the 1929 Clive Brook film The Return of Sherlock Holmes.

5. Sherlock wasn't always going to be called "Sherlock"

Did you know he was almost named "Sherrinford" - just as great a name for a sleuth, or we think so anyway. The name "Sherlock"comes from (or so the tale goes) a combination of the names of two Nottinghamshire cricketers: Mortdecai Sherwin and Joseph Shacklock. Doyle himself was a keen (and talented) cricketer, so we'd like to think this is the true origin of Sherlock Holmes's name.

6. The name "Sherlock" is a little more popular than you might think... with animals anyway...

Despite his undeniable popularity, there haven't been that many children born bearing the name of this super sleuth. Just 5 new-born babies were given the name Sherlock in 2012, but, this was the most usages of the name in 17 years so maybe it's starting to make a comeback. According to the 1911 Census, the name did used to have some love as one entry from a family lists the names of two of their children as Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. Now THAT'S dedication! But, bizarrely, in 2013 there were at least 30 pets sporting the name. So, why do people see the name as more suited to a dog than a child? We don't know for sure, but there is definitely something cute about the idea of a puppy called Sherlock Bones!

7. Sherlock used some detective techniques before real detectives did

Fingerprints - Sherlock. Identification of a suspect by their typewriter - Sherlock. Identifying blood stains - Sherlock. Gauging gunshot firing distance - do we need to go on..? In each of these cases, the great detective used his powers of deduction and scientific prowess to pioneer techniques before they were officially used by the police.

So, Sherlock fans, have any of our facts surprised you?

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