Inspector Lestrade

Inspector G. Lestrade, or Mr. Lestrade ( /lɛˈstrd/ or /lɛˈstrɑːd/),[1] is a fictional character appearing in several of the Sherlock Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Doyle used the name of a friend from his days at the University of Edinburgh, a Saint Lucian medical student, Joseph Alexandre Lestrade. In ”The Adventure of the Cardboard Box”, Lestrade's first initial is revealed to be G. He is described as “a little sallow rat-faced, dark-eyed fellow” in A Study in Scarlet and “a lean, ferret-like man, furtive and sly-looking”," in ”The Boscombe Valley Mystery”.

G. Lestrade
Sherlock Holmes character
At The Adventure of the Cardboard Box Inspector Lestrade arresting a suspect, by Sidney Paget.
First appearanceA Study in Scarlet
Last appearanceThe Adventure of the Three Garridebs
Created byArthur Conan Doyle
TitleDetective Inspector

Appearances in canon

Case Case Date Publishing Date Location
A Study in Scarlet 1881 1887 London, England
The Adventure of the Cardboard Box 1890 1893 London Borough of Croydon
The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor 1888 1892 London
The Boscombe Valley Mystery 1889 1891 Herefordshire
The Hound of the Baskervilles 1889 1901 Devon
The Adventure of the Empty House 1894 1903 London, England
The Adventure of the Second Stain 1888 1905 London, England
The Adventure of the Norwood Builder 1894 1903 South Norwood
The Bruce-Partington Plans 1895 1908 Woolwich
The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton unknown 1904 Hampstead, now London Borough of Camden.
The Adventure of the Six Napoleons 1900 1904 London, England
The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax 1901 1911 Lausanne
The Adventure of the Three Garridebs 1902 1924 Middlesex, by Tyburn Tree


In the popular London media, Lestrade is depicted as one of the best detectives at Scotland Yard, chiefly because Holmes regularly allows him to take the credit for his deductions in cases such as "The Adventure of the Empty House" and "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder". In truth, he was already well-established as a respected policeman with 20 years in the Force before A Study in Scarlet. It is observed by Holmes that Lestrade and another detective, Tobias Gregson, have an ongoing rivalry, and he identifies the two as "the best of a bad lot ... both quick and energetic, but conventional shockingly so." Holmes once remarked in "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box" that, although Lestrade had almost no skill at actual crime-solving, his tenacity and determination are what brought him to the highest ranks in the official police force. His conventional nature leads him to grow frustrated at Holmes' methods, becoming "indifferent and contemptuous" to his exploration in "The Boscombe Valley Mystery". In both "The Boscombe Valley Mystery" and "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder", he states that he is "a practical man" in dismissal of Holmes' apparently trifling actions. Nevertheless, Lestrade's appreciation of Holmes' methods grows — likely aided by being credited with Holmes' successes — and by the time of The Hound of the Baskervilles Watson observes "from the reverential way in which Lestrade gazed at my companion that he had learned a good deal since the days when they had first worked together."

Additionally, despite his disdain for Lestrade's single-mindedness, Holmes appears to have an affection for the detective. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Holmes comments to Dr. Watson that Lestrade "is the best of the professionals, I think," meaning the professional detectives employed by Scotland Yard as opposed to himself. In the reported cases, Holmes works with Lestrade far more often than any other official. In "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons" it is revealed that Lestrade regularly drops in on Holmes and Watson at 221B Baker Street, sharing the news of Scotland Yard and discussing his current cases with Holmes. For his part, Lestrade gradually develops an appreciation of the detective's methods, going so far as to say at the end of the story, "We're not jealous of you down at Scotland Yard. No, sir, we are proud of you, and if you come down to-morrow there's not a man, from the oldest inspector to the youngest constable, who wouldn't be glad to shake you by the hand." Watson notes in passing that this little comment is one of the few instances where Holmes is visibly moved.


Lestrade is somewhat difficult to pin down as a character. His impatience with Holmes clashes with his kindness to clients, and his level of education appears limited. Despite being described uncharitably by Dr. Watson, Lestrade is pleasant to him, even implying to Watson in a comic way that he doubts Holmes' sanity in "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor". He uses basic working-class language without embellishments and occasionally archaic words such as "shivered" for "smashed" ("The Adventure of the Six Napoleons") and described his reaction to a nauseating act of murder as "sickish". He describes himself as being "no chicken" for "not young". ("A Study in Scarlet"). His greatest compliment to Holmes' methods was to describe them as "workmanlike".

Although he does place a high value in first-hand detecting, Lestrade is not uneducated. He is fluent in shorthand, dresses well, and his language is predominantly free of street-slang and 'coarse' talkhis only linguistic failing is the aforementioned archaic speech which is more indicative of a rural origin. (The Metropolitan Police preferred to recruit the country men as opposed to the London-born.[2]) He has (presumably by reputation) gained the trust of the public enough that he is brought in to a case involving a major landowner of Herefordshire ("The Boscombe Valley Mystery").

Despite a French surname (Lestrade is the name of a village in the Midi-Pyrénées and "l'estrade" means "the raised platform"), he shows no overt French ties. Conan Doyle wrote him as a very particular dresser, who nevertheless will get muddy in the line of work. He prefers to get out and find his evidence in person rather than solve crimes in his head. He closely resembles another Yarder, Peter Jones, whom Holmes describes as "an absolute imbecile" but "tenacious as a lobster" in "The Red-Headed League". His appearance and style very much contrast with Tobias Gregson which visually increases their rivalry. The two were never paired up in the Canon after A Study in Scarlet.

Lestrade is unique in that he works with Holmes throughout most the spectrum of the Canon, from the first adventure to one of the latest, "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs". His character is the only one to appreciably grow and adapt with his exposure to Holmes. By the same token, Lestrade is one of the few people besides Dr. Watson who is capable of moving Holmes on an emotional level, in "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons".

He was described by H. Paul Jeffers in the following words:

He is the most famous detective ever to walk the corridors of Scotland Yard, yet he existed only in the fertile imagination of a writer. He was Inspector Lestrade. We do not know his first name, only his initial: G. Although he appears thirteen times in the immortal adventures of Sherlock Holmes, nothing is known of the life outside the Yard of the detective whom Dr. Watson described unflatteringly as sallow, rat-faced, and dark-eyed and whom Holmes saw as quick and energetic but wholly conventional, lacking in imagination, and normally out of his depth “the best of a bad lot” who had reached the top in the CID by bulldog tenacity.[3]

Depiction in derivatives and adaptations

The author M. J. Trow wrote a series of seventeen books using Lestrade as the central character, beginning with The Adventures of Inspector Lestrade in 1985. In these stories, Trow shows Lestrade to be a more than capable detective. He is given a first name, "Sholto", a young daughter whom he seldom sees, and a series of adventures set against a historical backdrop. In one book Lestrade meets G. K. Chesterton and in another he suffers a broken leg in a fall from the gangplank of the RMS Titanic.

Lestrade's lack of ability is frequently exaggerated in adaptations, which often characterise him as a bumbling idiot. Notably, Dennis Hoey played Lestrade in most of the Sherlock Holmes films from Universal Pictures starring Basil Rathbone as Holmes. This version had the Yard man as a well-meaning fool patronised by the detective,[4][5] whose help he greatly appreciated, rather in the manner of that series' version of Doctor Watson (Nigel Bruce). Lestrade is nonetheless a capable officer, and Holmes never questions his honesty or his willingness to solve a case. Archie Duncan portrayed Lestrade in the same fashion as Hoey[6] in the 1954 television series Sherlock Holmes featuring Ronald Howard as Holmes and H. Marion-Crawford as Watson.

In the book Sherlock Holmes: The Man and His World by H.R.F. Keating, Keating notes that despite Holmes' accusations of his lack of observational skills, he knows Holmes craves the outré and uses this to collect his interest in the case of "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons".[7]

Granada Television series

Colin Jeavons played Lestrade throughout the Granada Television adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes stories, starting with "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder" in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The character was portrayed as a capable, if slightly vain, career policeman with a prickly but ultimately affectionate relationship with Holmes as evidenced in the dramatisation of the aforementioned "We're proud of you" scene. So familiar did Jeavons become in the part that when he was unavailable for "The Eligible Bachelor", Lestrade was replaced by another of ACD's Yarders, Inspector Montgomery. Lestrade's absence was explained as having gone to the Leamington Baths on vacation, and Holmes fumes that he hopes his wife was with him. This is an embellishment on canon, as Lestrade was never shown to be married or attached.

In other episodes, Jeavons was given parts originally belonging to other detectives, such as "The Adventure of the Creeping Man" and extra scenes in "The Master Blackmailer" (their version of "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton"). Lestrade was even mentioned off-screen in the scripts, emphasising his close relationship with 221B Baker Street.

Jeavons' portrayal is considered the most faithful to the Canon. In Starring Sherlock Holmes David Stuart Davies wrote, "Lestrade was played with great panache throughout the Granada series by Colin Jeavons, who humanised and enhanced Doyle's sketchy portrait of the Inspector."[8] Unusually, in this series, Lestrade's name was pronounced with a long a sound, rhyming with "trade", as opposed to the usual practice in screen or audio adaptations of using the French pronunciation.

In other media

Other appearances

  • Inspector Lestrade[12] is a logic puzzle game online through Everett Kaser Software.
  • Lestrade is briefly mentioned in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume I.
  • Lestrade is a recurring character in the Moonstone Books versions of Sherlock Holmes adventures. His "We're proud of you" speech is adapted for a scene in Holmes' birthday in "Return of the Devil".
  • In the TV show Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century one of the main characters was Inspector Beth Lestrade, a descendant who is quite efficient in her own way and has inherited Doctor Watson's diaries.
  • A search engine, the Inspector Lestrade, is used by MacIntosh, a "fast, lightweight meta searcher."[13]
  • "The Inspector Lestrade Award" is a rising term among message boards for a person who is "almost correct." It has shown up on zdnet and "Bad Astronomy and the Universe Today" forum[14]
  • The Peterson Pipes company has a Sherlock Holmes (Return) Series of handmade pipes with silverwork. Two Lestrade pipes are in the collection.[15]
  • He appears in the book series The Boy Sherlock Holmes as the son of a ferret-faced inspector by the same name who dislikes Sherlock greatly.
  • In the novel The Canary Trainer, Sherlock Holmes uses "Inspector Lestrade" as an alias while investigating the phantom of the Paris Opera while incognito.
  • Holmes also used the alias Inspector Lestrade in the pastiche, The Counterfeit Detective by Stuart Douglas.
  • Lestrade appears as a Non-player character in the Sherlock computer adventure game.
  • A young female pickpocket based on Lestrade, her first name being "Gina", appears in the Ace Attorney spin-off, Dai Gyakuten Saiban: Naruhodō Ryūnosuke no Bōken. She appears as a witness in the game's third case, and as a defendant falsely accused of murder and stabbing Sherlock Holmes in the game's fifth case. She joins the police force as a trainee and dubs herself "Inspector Lestrade" in the game's sequel, Dai Gyakuten Saiban 2: Naruhodō Ryūnosuke no Kakugo.
  • In the otome dating game and phone app "Guard Me, Sherlock!", Lestrade appears as "George" Lestrade, who is an inspector in the apparently "useless" Scotland Yard. There is a story route for him.

See also


  1. Jones, Daniel; Gimson, Alfred C. (1977) [1917]. Everyman's English Pronunciation Dictionary. Everyman's Reference Library (14 ed.). London: J. M. Dent & Sons. ISBN 0-460-03029-9.
  2. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2013-05-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. Jeffers, H.P. (1992) Bloody Business: An anecdotal history of Scotland Yard, p. 95. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble.
  4. Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. p. 211. ISBN 9780857687760.
  5. Bunson, Matthew (1997). Encyclopedia Sherlockiana. Simon & Schuster. p. 104. ISBN 0-02-861679-0.
  6. Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. p. 181. ISBN 9780857687760.
  7. P. 112, Keating, H. R. F. Sherlock Holmes: The Man and His World; Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, (c)1979 ISBN 0-684-16269-5
  8. Davies, David Stuart (2007). Starring Sherlock Holmes. Titan Books. p. 155. ISBN 9781845765378.
  9. Slayton, Christopher (26 September 2013). "Elementary Keeps Getting Sherlock Holmes Right". The Atlantic. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  10. McNutt, Myles (6 March 2014). "Elementary: "Ears To You"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  11. Shinjiro Okazaki and Kenichi Fujita (ed.), "シャーロックホームズ冒険ファンブック Shārokku Hōmuzu Bōken Fan Bukku", Tokyo: Shogakukan, 2014,
    p. 11, p. 32 and p. 53.
  12. "Inpsector Lestrade - Everett Kaser Software". Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  13. Welcome to Northern Softworks Archived 2009-04-01 at the Wayback Machine
  14. Bad Astronomy and Universe Today Forum - View Single Post - Alert! Zetatalk gives exact date of pole shift!
  15. "Peterson SH Squire - Pipes and Cigars". Archived from the original on 6 September 2012. Retrieved 20 October 2016.


  • "Starring Sherlock Holmes" David Stuart Davies; Titan Books, 2001
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