Long before Lostpedia and in-character Mad Men tweets; long before Kirk made out with Spock in a turbolift, courtesy of some devotee's overheated imagination; long before the words slash and drabble came to signify genres of, ahem, literature, there was Sherlock Holmes. Scarcely had Arthur Conan Doyle begun publishing his tales of the deductive detective when an avid fan base sprang up, the first of a new breed of followers. These early Sherlockians weren't content simply to read the books. They wanted to enter the world Conan Doyle had created, puppeteer his characters, and design their own mysteries for Holmes to solve. In short, they wanted to play, and, with Xbox still a few years off, they ended up doing the next best thing: They wrote stories. Lots of them.
How did this come about? IN large part because Conan Doyle (1) prematurely abandoned Holmes (killed him off in fact) and (2) left major crack in the Holmesverse encouraging fanfic spackling:
For Sir Arthur, God bless him, didn't write with an eye to what today's nerd would call "continuity." Crafting Holmes stories bored him, and he frequently lost track of details like the exact location of Watson's Afghan war wound (was it the shoulder or the leg?) and the precise status of Mrs. Watson. But Sir Arthur's table scraps, his inconsistencies and random allusions, made for a fan feast. From a throwaway line—a hilariously oblique reference such as "the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared"—scores of amateur yarns have been spun.
Brown quotes Christopher Morley, founder of The Baker Street Irregulars--"The whole Sherlock Holmes saga is a triumphant illustration of art's supremacy over life"--but add his own correction: "He might as well have written 'the story's supremacy over the author.'"