J. M. Barrie

Which author, who created the character Peter Pan, also wrote a pastiche of Sherlock Holmes in which Holmes dies?
And the answer: J.M. Barrie.
Photo credit: public domain. 

J.M. Barrie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle both attended the University of Edinburgh and played on the same cricket team. J.M. Barrie wrote three pastiches of Sherlock Holmes, one of which was "The Late Sherlock Holmes," in which Dr. Watson is accused of Holmes' murder before Holmes is found alive.    

Early in his writing career, Conan Doyle became involved with a new magazine called The Idler. Hoping to meet other writers, Doyle came in contact with another similarly minded creator and Edinburgh native: J.M. Barrie. The two realized, soon after, that they were both Scottish, had attended the University of Edinburgh, and were avid cricket players. In fact, Doyle had even played on one of Barrie's cricket teams at university (cue: "It's a Small World After All). Barrie and Doyle formed a close friendship almost instantly, going on to collaborate on a failed musical: Jane Annie or The Good Conduct Prize in 1892.

Barrie's insider view of Doyle’s love/hate relationship with the Holmes series meant that he was well-aware of Doyle's planned finale of his most famous creation. “The Late Sherlock Holmes” was the third of Barrie’s Holmes parodies, and was released only several months after Doyle's own "The Adventure of the Final Problem." Contrary to popular belief, the work was not the first Holmes parody ever written, however, it may have been the first pastiche to humorously rework a story from the canon. Structured in the style of a sensational newspaper article, the piece parodies the events related in “The Adventure of the Final Problem” and other Holmes stories in general. The numerous in-jokes and references would have been easily recognized by the general public, while others would only have had meaning to Doyle and Barrie.

Learn more about J.M. Barrie's work and relationship with Doyle here.


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