Detail from a portrait of William Gillette – New York Public Library Digital Gallery, Billy Rose Theatre Division

William Gillette (1853–1937)

William Gillette was an American actor and playwright known best for his portrayal of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. A native of Hartford, Gillette gave over 1,300 theater performances—and starred in one movie—as Sherlock Holmes, a role he adapted from the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Gillette built his home along the Connecticut River in East Haddam in the style of a medieval castle, high upon the hill chain known as the Seven Sisters. There he made numerous architectural renovations to accommodate his many cats, and built a three-mile-long narrow-gauge railroad for riding around his property. The Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection now operates the property as Gillette Castle State Park.

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Holmes at Home: The Life of William Gillette

William Gillette was an American actor, playwright, and stage director most famous for his stage portrayal of Sherlock Holmes and for the stone castle he built in East Haddam. …[more]

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Loffredo, Peter T. William Gillette: A Connecticut Yankee and the American Stage. Princeton, NJ: Films for the Humanities & Sciences, 2003.


“East Haddam Historical Society & Museum,” 2017. Link.
Department of Energy & Environmental Protection. “Gillette Castle State Park,” 2017. Link.
“Harriet Beecher Stowe Center,” 2017. Link.


Connecticut State Library. “Archives: William Gillette Papers, 1834-1935,” 2017. Link.
Connecticut State Library. “Manuscript Collections Finding Aids Index: Gillette (William Hooker) Collection, 1884-1936 (RG 069:109),” 2017. Link.
Connecticut Digital Archive. “William Gillette Collection,” n.d. Link.


Gillette, William Hooker. Secret Service; a Romance of the Southern Confederacy. New York, NY: Samuel French, 1898. Link.
Cook, Doris E. Sherlock Holmes and Much More, or, Some of the Facts About William Gillette. Hartford, CT: Connecticut Historical Society, 1970.
Gillette, William. William Gillette in Sherlock Holmes, as Produced at the Garrick Theatre, New York. New York, NY: R. H. Russell, 1900. Link.
Zecher, Henry. William Gillette, America’s Sherlock Holmes. Bloomington, IN: Xlibris Corp, 2011.