Sherlock Holmes does not seem to have sexual desires. He disliked and distrusted women, and above all he did not know what women really want. In “The Adventure of the Illustrious Client,” Holmes contends: “Woman's heart and mind are insoluble puzzles to the male.” (The Complete Sherlock Holmes, II, 501) In “The Adventure of the Lion's Mane,” he confesses: “Women have seldom been an attraction to me for my brain has always governed my heart” (The Complete Sherlock Holmes, II, 621)

However, in the Sherlock Holmes stories a number of attractive young women appear, including Violet Hunter (“The Adventure of the Copper Beeches”) and Mary Morstan (first introduced in The Sign of Four), who eventually marries Dr Watson. They don't, however, make a lasting impression on Holmes. Only Irene Adler from “A Scandal in Bohemia,” a retired operatic diva and a primadonna of the Imperial Opera of Warsaw, seems to have caught Holmes's attention. He described her as “the daintiest thing under a bonnet on this planet.” (The Complete Sherlock Holmes, I, 196) Irene Adler appears to Holmes as an extraordinary woman, but he was primarily captivated by her mind. “To Sherlock Holmes,” Dr Watson said, “she is always the woman.” (The Complete Sherlock Holmes, vol. I, 187) He admired her because she outwitted him and the King of Bohemia.

Last modified 13 December 2013