Two Sides of the Same Coin

by | Oct 2, 2023 | Author | 3 comments

Like other fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved duo, I often imagined Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson were real people, regardless if they lived in the late 19th century, during World War II, or even present day.

It’s not the when which intrigued me, but the way they lived. Two men from totally different backgrounds come together to become dependent upon each other, a relationship lasting decades, remaining true no matter how the characters have been depicted. It wasn’t until recently, give or take a decade, that I became aware of others who felt the same as I. Through the published pastiches and admiration societies, I discovered there were people who imagined how these two lived, both together and apart. This is why I wrote Two Sides of the Same Coin: In-between stories of Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson. I had to take their imagined experiences and share them with those fans.

I chose the subtitle of “In-between stories…” to offer imagined experiences to supplement some of the sixty-four stories penned by Conan Doyle, but not outside the established Canon of their lives together. I have imagined experiences each character had before they met and offered in these stories how those experiences shaped the men they would become.

The title, Two Sides of the Same Coin, represents how individually each man might have been a success, but it was when they came together, they became a force to be reckoned with. Holmes’s lessons on observation and for never taking anything at face value helped to make a better diagnostician of Dr. Watson. The excitement he brought into Watson’s life gave the man purpose. Watson, on the other hand, grounded Holmes to a sense of reality and a healthful existence beyond the cocaine Holmes had grown dependent upon. I did not go deep into Holmes’s addiction in the book, but I believe the use of cocaine was for the purpose of calming the “voices” demanding attention in his active mind and imagination. This just might be the basis for a story in my next book.

The term “bromance” was only recently coined to describe the type of relationship Holmes and Watson had.

I like to believe their attachment was more in line with a brotherhood. Would Holmes’s consulting detective business ever had become the success it was were it not for the support and faith shown through Watson’s essays? It was never mentioned in the Canon whether or not Watson was a writer of any note prior to his attachment to Holmes? Sherlock Holmes intrigued Watson. He became more than just a flatmate. He became the face he looked forward to seeing every morning across the breakfast table. Were it not for Watson’s marriage to Mary Morstan, could there have been something other to their relationship, after all, Holmes was known to be a peculiar individual. Even after moving out of the home they had shared on Baker Street, Sherlock Holmes provided Dr. Watson with a sense of fulfillment not provided by his marriage or medical practice.

I believe it was never the intention of Conan Doyle for his two characters to be considered in any other kind of relationship than that of a sense of comradeship. He made the point for Holmes to mention early on, he believed he could never take upon himself a relationship which could be jeopardized by his enemies. His decision to live an asexual life, or a romantically solitary life, was actually his best action to prevent unnecessary pain to someone he would care for. Unfortunately for him, John Watson filled that vacancy with his presence in Holmes’s life. Not that he was in any way romantically or sexually attracted to the man, but Watson did become dear to him, maybe closer than a brother, as demonstrated with his relationship with his own brother, Mycroft Holmes.

I like to believe it was through his association with John Watson he learned to care about other human beings. Raising his head above his microscope, putting down his pipe, and learning how to share his thoughts, taught Holmes how to enjoy his life enough to eventually give up living in London and retire to the shores of the English Channel. Whether you envision Sherlock Holmes to have looked like Sidney Padgett’s brother, Basil Rathbone, Ronald Howard, Jeremy Brett, or Benjamin Cumberbatch, it truly does not matter. It’s the spirit of the man and his relationship with his friend, John Watson which is important. For that matter, regardless of who portrays John Watson, I have never believed him to be the comic foil as he was often considered. The man was an army officer, a physician, and a decent enough writer for his stories about his companion to be published and approved by the reading public. Hardly, the steel of a clown.

Yes, these men are two sides of the same coin, in so much that individually their lives would probably have taken a far different turn. They needed each other as much as a coin needs both sides, otherwise it is considered worthless and it certainly is not what these two characters were when together. I hope you enjoy reading Two Sides of the Same Coin: In-between stories of Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson. This and other books containing my stories can be found on my Amazon author page: P.A. O’Neil


  1. Antaeus

    Beautifully written, Pat O’Neil.

  2. Mary Ellen Gambutti

    Nice! in my humble opinion, Jeremy Brett was the best Holmes!


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