Posted by: relativitygirl | October 4, 2014

What’s the Deal With Mycroft?

At the risk of exposing my penchant toward Granada, I’ll start with Charles Gray, whom I think gave more dimension (no pun intended) to the character than any other in the extensive list of Mycrofts through history. If you’re unfamiliar with Mycroft and his relationship with Sherlock, check out this 2-minute sample from “The Greek Interpreter” (starring Jeremy Brett as Holmes and David Burke as Watson), which illuminates the intellectual similarities between the two siblings.


From “The Greek Interpreter”

I have a thousand questions about Mycroft, and too few of them have been answered over the many years of my Holmes devotion. Why did Arthur Conan Doyle write so extensively, almost exhaustively, about Holmes and Watson with so very little about the elusive Mycroft? Did he imagine them growing up together, or else separated at birth and later reunited? Did they attend the same schools, study together, and otherwise care for each other in any typical brotherly ways? But most importantly, I hunger to know the reasons for Mycroft’s strange agoraphobia, his disdain for physical activity and perpetual retreats into the mute womb of London’s Diogenes Club despite his obvious fascination with human behavior. Mycroft naps and reads and observes with what Sherlock believes is the keenest mind he’s ever come across. Why were they not closer? I’ve almost thought, in the Granada episodes, that Sherlock looked to Mycroft as more of a parent than a sibling, only consulting him on matters of the utmost urgency.

In the more recent BBC “Sherlock” series, Mycroft (Mark Gatiss) and Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) don’t share the same affectionate regard as in earlier series’ and Mycroft dons a more shadowy X-Files’ish guise. This scene comically shows the obvious rivalry, tension, and competition between the opposing forces.

Some of the many faces of Mycroft:

Many Mycrofts

Many Mycrofts

And Sidney Paget’s illustration of him for The Strand Magazine:


For more reading on Mycroft, check out “The Confessions of Mycroft Holmes” by Marcel Theroux, published in 2001.



  1. Why isn’t my LIKE button showing for this post??

  2. A most excellent assessment! My personal favorite is Charles Gray…who masterfully captures the eccentricities. I believe it was Conan Doyle’s intention to keep the background of the brothers a mystery. As we are astounded by Sherlock’s amazing powers of deduction, Sherlock himself points to his brother as having far greater abilities, leaving us to only surmise how their past together must have been. That adds a power of wonder to the legacy of Holmes.

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