Sherlock Holmes – what’s the sexual attraction?

Indulging my fantasies? No sorry – Sherlock Holmes is definitely not my type.

I’ve been lucky, most reviews of my novel have been  favourable and really understood what I was trying to achieve.  But I did come across one the other day which really made me smile.  The reviewer suggested that I was ‘indulging my own fantasies’ by writing about my protagonist and her liaison with Sherlock Holmes.  The person clearly doesn’t know me very well because, no offense to Mr Holmes, but he’s really not for me.  Complex, moody, difficult, egotistical and thin – oh dear, hardly a ringing endorsement.  A fascinating character to read and write about but if I actually met the great man, I’d be terrified.  Snog, marry, avoid?  Definitely avoid I’m afraid.  I can understand why my central character developed an infatuation with this mysterious, eccentric older man and it was great fun to write, but she and I are very different people and I would run a mile from a man like that.

Clearly out there in the Fandom universe there are many who would disagree with me (both men and women I might add).  So what is the sexual appeal of Sherlock Holmes? Is it that we are drawn to someone we think we can fix?  Or is it the challenge of being good enough to secure the heart of someone who has never given it before?  Basically, is it the challenge?  Like Carrie and Mr Big in Sex and the City?  The idea of wanting someone we can’t have?  Or is it because Jeremy Brett and Benedict Cumberbatch are so ascetically pleasing?  Whatever the reason, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ended up creating a bit of a sex symbol – whether he intended to or not.

For me, the opposite of ego is attractive – a man who is really good looking but doesn’t realise it.  More like Doctor Watson perhaps?  He might be less of a challenge but, well, in snog, marry, avoid I’d say he was a keeper!  That stoic, reliable, somewhat humble, self-deprecating nature is certainly attractive – but possibly a bit too conventional for me.  Not that I’m fussy or anything . . .

I also like unusual pairings, that’s why in Barefoot it’s the person you’d least expect who gets the girl in the end.  This also happens in my short story, Charlie Milverton, which was published as part of Sherlock’s Home, The Empty House – an anthology of short stories created in support of The Undershaw Preservation Trust.  Expect the unexpected when it comes to my writing and romantic couplings.

So why write about love at all in Barefoot?  Well, firstly because I think love is the foundation of our lives and you can’t really write a story charting someone’s life without it.  Secondly, I think a reader gets to experience more of the real person when they read about them interacting with someone they love – being vulnerable, open and not quite in control.  This is very relevant with a character like Holmes.

When writing your first novel it’s so hard to get sentimental/romantic/sexual scenes right.  Especially when your publisher doesn’t have an in-house editor to guide you through the process.  It takes so much skill and I’ve put a lot of work into re-writing these scenes (and leaving some out) in the second edition.  I do think that reviewers should cut you a little slack when it comes to writing scenes of this nature in your first novel.  Especially when they involve a character who everyone has pre-conceived ideas about and who you personally don’t go weak at the knees for.  This took lots of bravery and imagination – the only fantasy I indulged in was becoming a published author.   Thank goodness it came true.

* I’m sure you’ll want to disagree with me – so please give me your thoughts by using the comment facility below.

My novel Barefoot on Baker Street has been published. Here are some of the ways you can purchase it.

You can order my book in America here.

You can purchase the American Kindle version here

You can order my book in the UK here.

You can purchase the UK Kindle version here.

About barefootonbakerstreet

Author and senior recruitment manager from Shropshire
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6 Responses to Sherlock Holmes – what’s the sexual attraction?

  1. Larry Feldman says:

    I would imagined the appeal of Holmes on the ladies is like that of Mr. Spock. The challenge of getting through to a powerful, yet emotionally unavailable character. Kind of like trying to turn the good looking gay guy back to women. Of course, in most cases, this hardly ever ends well.

  2. Ennui says:

    Not an expert in why the sex appeal. It seems like any vaguely famous character – real or imagined – will find a fan club. In any fan club there is bound to be some that are sexually attracted. Our society confuses infatuation and love far to often.
    Although I do think Jeremy Brett and Benedict Cumberbatch are rather good looking, I agree that their character, SH, would end up being terrible in matrimony.
    That being said, I have also considered what is the attraction in general to SH? Why this continued fascination with an egotistical, complex, moody, difficult genius? Maybe there’s a small part in us that identifies with bits of his character? Or maybe there’s something inside of us that wishes for an unparalleled intellect such as his? Don’t have the answer. Just wondering.

  3. As Irene Adler said in Scandal in Belgravia, it could be because smart IS sexy. Characters like Mr. Spock, or even Data, on Star Trek are not only smart, but mysterious. Women do, I think, enjoy a good mystery, and Holmes is just about as mysterious as the crimes and murders he solves! Holmes in canon is just as mysterious as Cumberbatch’s Sherlock and Watson of canon is just as brave, loyal, and lovable as Freeman’s John, or any other on-screen adaptation one cares to mention. Could that be why we love the good doctor, equally, if not more than the amazing detective? And, why love in any form–be it a bromance and/or all forms of sexuality and love–are discussed in scholarship and modern adaptations. For my part, Holmes and Watson will always love each other as family, and that is one strong, important bond. Did I go a bit off topic?! Oops.

  4. Mala says:

    Am not sure how you missed the fact that intelligence can be very sexy indeed! Stephen Hawking or Einstein were not easy to live with, yet women married them – i can see possibilities in Holmes of a good spouse although it would need tremendous patience to make it happen.

  5. Yes intelligence is sexy, I agree, but when blended with ego it becomes less so. That’s the problem with Holmes for me. But I can totally understand why a smart, mysterious, unobtainable man is regarded as sexually attractive.

  6. Hella says:

    Sherlock Holmes – what`s the sexual attraction?
    All previous Sherlocks did not look sexual at all – maybe because they were placed in the 19th century or because they were 40-50 years old. So, what was their attraction? The same one which is in Agatha Christie`s books, namely – the crime is not exactly a crime, there is no mess or families whose lives were ruined forever. Everything was a thinking / guessing game – like a puzzle or cards. Everything and everyone, big and small details alike, were at the crime scene. If you could figure out how to put every card or detail in the right order and in the right place – you could find the solution, and everything came back to normal, as if nothing happened. Therefore, Sherlock`s attraction (sexuality was not the right word) was not the crimes he solved, or his personal appearance, but his analytical mind, his scientific thought, which were tools for the most important thing – looking for the truth.
    Now, Moffatt & Gatiss placed Sherlock in the 21 century, in which the question concerning sex and sexuality is unavoidable. I am not sure whether the audience did not mix between the fictional Sherlock and the very real actor Benedict Cumberbatch, but they began to be interested in Sherlock for reasons Sir Conan did not dare even to dream about (many of them are irrelevant and even ridiculous):
    Did Sherlock ever sleep with a woman? Sherlock and Watson – will they become lovers? Is Irene the femme fatale who broke Sherlock`s heart? Will Sherlock have “something” with Molly? Etc. Moreover, the 19 century Sherlock lived as expected from him – like a gentleman, namely – he did not work, therefore could occupy himself with solving crimes. By the same go, the 21 century Sherlock is expected to have a career, settle down, have a wife/kids/mortgage, visit pubs, etc. In this case, he will never have the time or energy to solve crimes.
    I believe that besides of discussing about how sexy Sherlock is and what makes him so sexy – whether it is Sherlock per se or Benedict Cumberbatch per se – Moffatt & Gatiss have to decide, and very quickly, what kind of Sherlock they want, a loyal heir to his ancestors or someone completely different.

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