For questions regarding the Sherlock Holmes series of novels and short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle or any other literary work featuring this character. For questions about the original Doyle stories, use the [arthur-conan-doyle] tag as well.
Sherlock Holmes started off as a fictional detective in a series of four novels and fifty-six short stories published by Arthur Conan Doyle between 1887 and 1927. These sixty works comprise what is known as the "canon" of Sherlock Holmes, but there have been many hundreds of stories about him, and other characters either from Doyle's stories or elsewhere, written by dozens of other authors.
Doyle's Holmes stories were not the first instance of detective fiction (they are predated, for instance, by Edgar Allan Poe's Dupin stories), but they are surely one of the most influential, with Holmes frequently being believed to be a real person. According to the Guinness Book of Records, he is also the "most portrayed movie character" of all time - this reflecting the extreme and enduring popularity of the character even beyond the realm of literature.