His Last Bow: An Epilogue of Sherlock Holmes

His Last Bow

His Last Bow: An Epilogue of Sherlock Holmes


Sherlock Holmes is one of the most famous and beloved fictional characters of all time. He is the brilliant and eccentric detective who solves the most baffling and mysterious cases with his keen observation, logical reasoning, and scientific methods. He is also the hero who fights against the forces of evil and injustice with his courage, wit, and moral code.

But every hero has an end, and Sherlock Holmes is no exception. His Last Bow: An Epilogue of Sherlock Holmes is the final story of the legendary detective, written by his loyal friend and biographer, Dr. John Watson. It is not a typical Sherlock Holmes story, but rather a farewell to the character and his fans.

In this article, I will review His Last Bow by Dr. John Watson and share my thoughts on this masterpiece of detective fiction. I will discuss the plot, the characters, the themes, and the historical context of this story. I will also answer some frequently asked questions about His Last Bow and Sherlock Holmes in general.

If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes or curious about his last adventure, then read on!

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Plot Summary

His Last Bow is set in August 1914, on the eve of World War I. Sherlock Holmes, who has retired from his detective career and lives as a beekeeper in Sussex, is called back to action by his brother Mycroft, who works for the British government. Holmes is asked to infiltrate a German spy ring led by a man named Von Bork, who has collected vital information about Britain’s military and naval plans.

Holmes disguises himself as an Irish-American agent named Altamont and befriends Von Bork, who trusts him as his best source of intelligence. Holmes manages to gain access to Von Bork’s safe and copies all his documents. He then reveals his true identity to Von Bork and arrests him with the help of Watson, who has been waiting outside.

Holmes explains to Watson that he decided to take on this mission as a patriotic duty and a personal challenge. He also says that this is his last bow, as he intends to return to his peaceful life in Sussex. He then bids farewell to Watson and expresses his hope for a better future for humanity.


  • Sherlock Holmes: The protagonist of the story and the greatest detective of all time. He is clever, observant, analytical, and resourceful. He can disguise himself as anyone and fool even his enemies. He is also brave, loyal, and honorable. He loves his country and his friend Watson. He considers His Last Bow as his final contribution to the world.
  • Dr. John Watson: The narrator of the story and the faithful companion of Sherlock Holmes. He is a doctor, a soldier, and a writer. He is kind, honest, and reliable. He admires Holmes for his genius and courage. He follows him on his last adventure and records it for posterity.
  • Von Bork: The antagonist of the story and the leader of the German spy ring in England. He is cunning, ruthless, and arrogant. He thinks he has outwitted the British intelligence and secured Germany’s victory in the war. He trusts Altamont as his best informant and does not suspect Holmes until it is too late.
  • Mycroft Holmes: The brother of Sherlock Holmes and a high-ranking official in the British government. He is also very intelligent and influential, but more lazy and corpulent than his brother. He recruits Holmes for his last mission and provides him with the necessary information and resources.
  • Altamont: The alias of Sherlock Holmes as an Irish-American agent working for Von Bork. He pretends to be a traitor to Britain and a loyal ally to Germany. He feeds Von Bork with false or useless information while secretly copying his real documents.

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  • Patriotism: One of the main themes of His Last Bow is patriotism, or love for one’s country. Sherlock Holmes shows his patriotism by coming out of retirement and risking his life to stop Von Bork from harming Britain’s interests in the war. He also expresses his pride in being an Englishman and his respect for King George V.
  • Friendship: Another theme of His Last Bow is friendship, or loyalty to one’s friends. Sherlock Holmes values his friendship with Watson more than anything else. He trusts him with his secrets and plans, he relies on him for his assistance and support, and he cherishes his company and conversation. He also thanks him for his friendship and service at the end of the story.
  • War: A third theme of His Last Bow is war, or the conflict between nations. The story is set in the context of World War I, which was one of the most devastating and tragic wars in history. The story shows the effects of war on the characters and the society, such as espionage, violence, fear, and uncertainty. It also shows the hope for peace and harmony among the people, as expressed by Holmes in his final words.

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Historical Context

His Last Bow was written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1917, three years after the outbreak of World War I. It was published as a standalone story in The Strand Magazine in September 1917, and later as part of a collection of eight stories titled His Last Bow: Some Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes in 1917.

The story reflects the historical situation and mood of the time, as Britain and its allies were fighting against Germany and its allies in a global war that lasted from 1914 to 1918. The war involved new technologies and weapons, such as airplanes, tanks, submarines, machine guns, poison gas, and barbed wire. It also caused millions of casualties and deaths, as well as social and political changes.

The story also pays tribute to Sherlock Holmes and his fans, as it was intended to be the last story of the character. Conan Doyle had already killed off Holmes in 1893 in The Final Problem, but he revived him in 1901 due to public demand. He wrote more stories about Holmes until 1927, but he considered His Last Bow as his official farewell to the character.

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Here are some frequently asked questions about His Last Bow and Sherlock Holmes:

  • Q: Is His Last Bow a good story?
  • A: His Last Bow is a good story for fans of Sherlock Holmes and detective fiction. It is not a typical mystery or crime story, but rather a spy thriller and a historical drama. It showcases Holmes’ skills and personality, as well as his relationship with Watson. It also provides a glimpse into the world of World War I and its impact on the characters and the society.
  • Q: How does His Last Bow compare to other Sherlock Holmes stories?
  • A: His Last Bow is different from other Sherlock Holmes stories in several ways. It is not narrated by Watson in the first person, but rather by an anonymous third-person narrator. It is not set in London or England, but rather in a country house near Harwich on the east coast of England. It is not about solving a murder or a mystery, but rather about preventing a spy from leaking vital information to the enemy. It is also more serious and somber than other stories, as it deals with the theme of war and its consequences.
  • Q: What is the significance of the title His Last Bow?
  • A: The title His Last Bow has multiple meanings and interpretations. It can refer to Holmes’ last appearance or performance as a detective, as he bows out of his career and retires to his bee farm. It can also refer to his last gesture or salute to his friend Watson and his fans, as he bows to them in gratitude and respect. It can also refer to his last weapon or tool, as he uses a bow (or a violin bow) to open Von Bork’s safe.


His Last Bow: An Epilogue of Sherlock Holmes is the final story of Sherlock Holmes, written by his loyal friend and biographer, Dr. John Watson. It is a spy thriller and a historical drama that shows Holmes’ patriotism, friendship, and hope for peace in the midst of World War I.

It is a good story for fans of Sherlock Holmes and detective fiction, as it showcases Holmes’ skills and personality, as well as his relationship with Watson. It is also a farewell to the character and his fans, as it marks his retirement from his detective career.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like these other stories by Dr. John Watson:

  • [The Adventure of the Empty House]: The story that reveals how Holmes survived his apparent death at Reichenbach Falls and returned to London after three years.
  • [The Hound of the Baskervilles]: The story that features one of Holmes’ most famous cases involving a mysterious hound that haunts an ancient family on Dartmoor.
  • [The Adventure of the Final Problem]: The story that depicts Holmes’ epic confrontation with his arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls.

Thank you for reading! I hope you found this article interesting and informative. If you have any questions or comments about His Last Bow or Sherlock Holmes, feel free to leave them below. I would love to hear from you! 😊

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