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Pairing: Sherlock Holmes/Dr. John Watson
Alternative name(s): Holmes/Watson, SH/JW, H/W
Gender category: M/M Slash
Fandom: Sherlock Holmes
Canonical?: No
Prevalence: Most popular pairing in Sherlock Holmes fandom.
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The relationship between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson is the most popular pairing in Sherlock Holmes fandom. Fannish interest in the pairing has increased recently following the Sherlock Holmes 2009 film and the BBC's 2010 TV series Sherlock.


Speculation that Doyle's Holmes was gay or bisexual has been rampant for many decades. Thomas Bragg's thesis "A Mere Appendix: The Reclaiming and Desexing of Sherlock Holmes" (Univ. of Florida, 2004) makes an interesting circumstantial case for Doyle's Holmes as an aesthete of ambiguous sexuality, then later as a more "masculine" and unemotional character.

Chris Redmond of the Baker Street Irregulars describes the history surrounding Holmes/Watson in "Intimate Converse in Baker Street". Perhaps the first documented romantic interpretation of the paring was in Rex Stoat's 1941 humorous essay "Watson Was a Woman" in which Stoat references the canon to claim Holmes and Watson act like an old married couple, with Watson as Holmes' wife. The first publicized portrayal of Holmes and Watson as a gay couple was The Sexual Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a 1971 erotic pulp novel by Larry Townsend.

Holmes/Watson was not especially common before the overwhelming popularity of BBC's Sherlock, but has long been present in fandom communities being included in Zines as early as 1990 (in Pæan to Priapus's first issue). Early fans often cited both Doyle's canon and the 1984 Granada TV adaptation as inspiration for fanworks. This iteration of Holmes/Watson was possibly first vidded by Mary Van Deusen in the early 90's.


The blog With Love, S.H. features an extensive archive of essays extrapolating the slashy subtext of each of the Holmes stories, as well as a timeline of the Holmes/Watson Relationship.


Because the characters have long been public domain, Holmes/Watson has been 'canonized' in a number of published pastiche novels. Some examples include My Dearest Holmes, A Murmuring of Bees, and Kissing Sherlock Holmes (a list of gay pastiches is available on goodreads)

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

The 1970 film The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes includes a plot in which Holmes pretends to be in a relationship with Watson to avoid a ballerina who wants to have a child with him. Director Billy Wilder later stated he originally intended for Holmes to be explicitly portrayed as a "repressed homosexual" in love with Watson, but ended up making the relationship ambiguous in the final film.

2009 Film

One of the major sub-plots of the 2009 film is that Holmes wants to stop Watson from getting married and from moving out of 221B. (Something about the homoerotic subtext, and wasn't there something else about RDJ insinuating that he played Holmes as gay?)

BBC TV Series

The Sherlock (BBC) TV series somewhat toys with the possibility of a romantic relationship between Sherlock and John; notably, there is a dinner conversation where Sherlock thinks John is coming on to him, so Sherlock gently explains that he is "married to his work"; a number of other characters assume that the two are a couple, such as Mrs. Hudson thinking that they might share a bedroom.


While Sherlock Holmes fandom is one of the oldest, most venerable fandoms, and mainstream besides, Holmes/Watson is rare enough online that it continues to qualify as a Yuletide fandom.

There is an archive of Holmes/Watson slash called Sacrilege! (founded in 1998 and updated through 2013) which features a number of stories by various authors, including what ship manifesto refers to as the classic H/W slash story: Irene Adler's Absurdly Simple.





H/W vids are multiplying now that the new Sherlock Holmes (2009) film is out; Robert Downey Jr. has that effect on people! The Sherlock (BBC) TV series already has a ton of vids out as well.


General Sherlock Holmes slash:

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