Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Christmas 2010: Whodunit

Dr Watson: a regular reader of the British Medical Journal

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 09 December 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6898
  1. C Ross Philpot, senior consultant physician
  1. 1Adelaide, Australia
  1. Correspondence to: C Ross Philpot rsphilpot{at}

For the first time in the histories of the British Medical Journal and the canon of Sherlock Holmes adventures, the two icons have been brought together in a special Holmes and Watson adventure facilitated by the new BMJ online archive. Dr Watson describes how he and his esteemed colleague Sherlock Holmes collaborated to track down clues to the BMJ in the canon of Sherlock Holmes adventures and Sherlock Holmes in the BMJ

Chapter I

“Holmes,” said I, one fine morning, as we lit our pipes refilled with yesterday’s carefully saved plugs and dottles. “For a change, I have a challenge for YOU.”

“Indeed, Watson?”

Illustration by Phil Cornell

“It’s a nice little problem of medical detection, to be set out with proper documentation and referencing, the whole project to be completed by the end of next week.”

“What, my dear fellow, have you and your mischievous colleagues at the British Medical Journal been up to this time?”

“Holmes!” I exclaimed in astonishment. “How in Heaven’s name could you have read my thoughts to perceive that it is indeed my editorial friends and their famous BMJ that I have in mind?”

“My good man, when I observe that a doctor has spent sleepless hours scribbling in the margins of the latest edition of his favourite medical journal and covered several foolscap pages with notes and lists, it needs no great effort of the imagination nor great deductive reasoning to discern that something of that nature is afoot.”

“Quite right, Holmes. I see your reasoning now. Well, what do you think? Should you and I collaborate to match up some medical comments in the Sherlock Holmes canon with articles published in the BMJ?”

“Surely, my friend. We’ll need a list of doctors, and of diseases, plus some remedies, which I can provide …

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