“All is very well down here. I am in the middle of the last Holmes story after which the gentleman vanishes, never to return! I am weary of his name.”
—Arthur Conan Doyle, letter to his mother, April 6, 1893
“The Final Problem” had, in effect, laid the man and the legend of Sherlock Holmes to rest. For his part, Conan Doyle wasted no time immersing himself in other concerns, both in writing and in life. In a blog post on the subject, Ray Wilcockson noted:
Readers of the December, 1893, issue of The Strand…were left at the close of “The Final Problem” with an image of the dead detective in apotheosis, clad in his trademark dressing gown, musing perhaps on the congenial, if fatal, conclusion to his career. Conan Doyle's last story and Sidney Paget's accompanying farewell had of course been handed to the editor, H. Greenhough Smith, months earlier. On April 6, having returned to Norwood from a visit to Switzerland…he sat in his study, with a head cold, vaguely reading Pride and Prejudice as painters erected ladders outside […] The day before Robert Louis Stevenson had written from Samoa, ironically to compliment Doyle on his creation. Doyle replied:
"I trust that I may never write a word about him again."
And so, the period of time known to Holmes readers as “The Great Hiatus” began in earnest. It would be eight years before Conan Doyle relented, allowing Holmes to return.