January 6th marks the birthday of one of my all-time favourite fictional characters – Sherlock Holmes.

Aside from myself, Sherlock’s avid fans have included Roosevelt and Harry Truman, who were both members of The Baker Street Irregulars, the most famous Sherlockian society (not to mention exclusive…. one can only join by receiving an invitation. BSIs, think of your friendly Mystery Maiden when next handing out shillings, please!)

Sherlock first came to light in Arthur Conan Doyle’s short stories. The Scottish author never intended Holmes to be his most noteworthy work, and had a love/hate relationship with his protagonist. But since Holmes first appeared in Beaton’s Christmas Annual in 1887 (A Study in Scarlet), mystery enthusiasts haven’t been able to sate their thirst for the sometimes curmudgeonly, always entertaining detective. He is brilliant and sees things no one else sees, has a nemesis (Moriarty), an ‘un-clubbable’ brother (Mycroft) and a woman (Irene Adler) whose memory he kept alive by carrying her picture. Throw in some murder – what’s not to love?

In honour of Holmes’ birthday today, I’d like to share with you some of my favourite Sherlockian works.

Favourite Sherlock Holmes Story: The Dancing Men and The Speckled Band

Favourite Sherlock Holmes Story: The Dancing Men and The Speckled Band

The first Sherlock Holmes story I ever read was The Dancing Men when I was young, because I loved the little pictures that were in my anthology. Next came The Speckled Band – how hilariously brilliant it was (8-year-old me thought) to train a snake! I was hooked. Now I have new faves, but those two stories have a special place on my heart and top the list of my faves.

Favourite Sherlock Holmes Bar: The Conan Doyle, Edinburgh

Favourite Sherlock Holmes Bar: The Conan Doyle, Edinburgh

While living in Scotland in 2003, my now-husband and I frequented a pub called The Conan Doyle in Edinburgh at the top of Leith Walk. While there are lots of Holmes mentions in this pub, it also celebrates Doyle himself and does make mention of his other works (this is the author in me showing through!). It wasn’t as touristy as I thought it would be – most Holmes fanatics center their pilgrimage in London.

Favourite Non-Doyle Work Featuring Sherlock Holmes: The Last Sherlock Holmes Story by Michael Dibdin

Favourite Non-Doyle Work Featuring Sherlock Holmes: The Last Sherlock Holmes Story by Michael Dibdin

If you have not read it, Holmes and Watson hunt Jack the Ripper on the streets of London. While he took some liberties with my beloved Holmes, I’m a sucker for a twist ending.

Favourite Screen Rendition of Sherlock Holmes: Benedict Cumberbatch

Favourite Screen Rendition of Sherlock Holmes: Benedict Cumberbatch

I never saw my love of Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes coming. In fact, I thought at first that he was a strange choice for the sleuth – until I saw him in action. He, and the writers and producers (of Doctor Who fame) put a fast-paced, devilishly cool spin on the houndstooth-clad Holmes of the past. I wrote an entire blog post on why I love this new version and can’t wait until they make more (CLICK HERE TO READ IT!).

So, happy birthday, Mr. Holmes! You are the reason I became a mystery writer, and maybe someday I’ll pen a character as cool as you.