The Historical Backstory of Netflix’s Enola Holmes 2


Shannon Pharr, Staff Writer

Whether or not you have watched Enola Holmes on Netflix, it has an outstanding theme of feminism and a groundbreaking historical aspect. The movies are produced by actor Millie Bobby Brown, famous for her role as Eleven in Netflix’s Stranger Things. As well, most of the cast members are female. Both the first and the second editions of the movie take place during a time in history where women were regarded as second-rank to men. Enola Holmes, the main character played by Millie Bobby Brown, is always in the shadow of her brother, Sherlock Holmes. She wants to make a name for herself instead of being recognized as “Sherlock’s sister”, so she starts her own detective business. In the sequel to Enola Holmes, the setting is London during the year 1888. Enola learns of the disappearance of a woman named Sarah Chapman and finally gets to investigate what happened to this missing woman.

From left to right, Henry Cavill stars as Sherlock Holmes, Millie Bobby Brown as Enola Holmes, and Louis Partridge as Tewkesbury.

In the Bryant & May match factory when this movie occurs, women were subject to terrible conditions, poor treatment, and low wages for their extreme work. The white phosphorus they used to create matches was dangerous and caused a disease known as “phossy jaw” that made their jaws rot. Since there was a typhus outbreak going on at the same time, the male managers of Bryant & May incorrectly labelled the disease as typhus. After years of dealing with the injustices of the match factory, the women protested for change. This protest led to the transition from using white phosphorus to red phosphorus, which was a much safer and more effective material. Additionally, it gained much attention throughout the country and granted more rights to workers along with encouraging union movements. The movie directors did some serious research on the workers’ strike as Sarah Chapman, the woman at the center of Enola’s new case, was an actual woman who played a huge role in demanding equality.

Not only did I find this movie enjoyable, humorous, and suspenseful, but the fact that it had a historical significance to it was truly special. Although this movie takes place more than 100 years ago, it speaks to the struggles that women are still experiencing to this day and the denial of certain rights.



The Real History of Enola Holmes 2 and the Matchgirls’ Strike of 1888