Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are the uncontested heroes of the Sherlock Holmes world, but with them comes a host of supporting characters, from the most significant, such as Inspector Lestrade, to unnamed household staff members and everything in between. In a universe that mostly consists of short stories, each character has a purpose, and none is superfluous.
For me, Mary Morstan, Watson’s first wife, is the nearly-silent heroine of the early Sherlock Holmes stories. She falls for Watson during a case, meaning she has a clear understanding of his consuming partnership with Sherlock Holmes, and she continues to tolerate it until her death, apparently choosing not to impede her husband’s friendship in any way. From her characterization in The Sign of the Four, she doesn’t strike me as a woman who sits around twiddling her thumbs. I believe she has a rich life, both with and without her husband, and the hours he’s with Holmes are filled by her in enjoyable ways.
Do you have a favorite supporting Holmes character? Let me know in the comments.