Sherlock Holmes

by Dave J. Maggs 2 months ago in literature

A Brief Literary History

Sherlock Holmes
Photo by Soyoung Han on Unsplash

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation first appeared in print in “Beeton's Christmas Annual”, published in 1887. Doyle initially wrote 27 Holmes short stories and 2 novels, culminating in the short story “The Final Problem”, published in December 1893. This was supposed to be the death of Sherlock Holmes as Doyle was reportedly wanting to move on to other things. However, the public demand for more of Holmes’ adventures was greater than Doyle could have imagined, so Doyle created a scenario that, ostensibly, brought Holmes back from the dead.

But, let us go back to the very beginning of the stories. As most people already know the Holmes stories are set in Victorian London at the end of the 19th century. Doyles’ first story, a novel, to be printed “A Study in Scarlet”, introduces readers to our two main characters Sherlock Holmes (b. 1854) and Dr John Watson (b. 1852). The story details their first meeting and the first mention of the famous address of 221b Baker Street. The story also introduces us to the abilities of Holmes as described by Dr Watson:

Knowledge of-

  • Literature – Nil
  • Philosophy – Nil
  • Astronomy – Nil
  • Politics – Feeble
  • Botany – Variable
  • Geology – Practical
  • Chemistry – Profound
  • Anatomy – Accurate
  • Sensational Literature – Immense
  • Plays the violin well
  • Expert singlestick player, boxer and swordsman
  • Has a good practical knowledge of British law

This story created enough interest in the “First Consulting Detective”, that the Strand Magazine began to publish the short stories in 1891, beginning with “A Scandal in Bohemia”. It was this story that introduced us to the one and only woman that has ever equalled Holmes’ intellect, Irene Adler, and as Watson puts it “when he (Holmes) speaks of Irene Adler, or when he refers to her photograph, it is always under the honourable title of the woman”.

The second novel written by Doyle “The Sign of the Four” was published in 1890 before the initial twelve short stories that are contained in a single book “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” was published, the first six of these appear in The Strand Magazine, issues 7 to 12 of 1891 (See a list of short stories below). The final six appear in issues 1 to 6 of 1892, The Strand Magazine would continue to publish the short stories until December 1893 with the publication of “The Final Problem”.

As has already been mentioned, the need for more Holmes stories was great, but Doyle did not publish another one until 1901 when the Novel “The Hound of the Baskervilles” was published, which was, incidentally, set before the events in “The Final Problem”. The next short story to be published was “The Adventure of the Empty House” (publ. Oct 1903), with Holmes explaining to Watson the reason why he faked his own death. This new short story is the first story that appears in the compilation book “The Return of Sherlock Holmes” (publ. 1905), which has includes 13 short stories.

In total “The Strand Magazine” would publish 51 of Doyle's short stories and would also serialise the novels “The Hound of the Baskervilles” and “The Valley of Fear”, this novel was published in 1914-15. There would be, overall, a total of 60 Holmes stories penned by Doyle. The last short story written was “The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place”, published in 1927. As a side note, the Strand publication had many illustrators creating images for the Holmes stories, the most famous of these was Sidney Henry Paget.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died in 1930, he is my favourite author and the Holmes stories are my go-to stories when I require a good read.

Sherlock Holmes stories have continued to be published periodically by new authors, the character has been immortalised on the silver screen by the likes of Basil Rathbone, on the stage in the play “Sherlock Holmes” with William Gillette in 1899. My introduction to Holmes was watching the ITV television series from 1984-1994, starring Jeremy Brett in the main role.

Below is a list of the Sherlock Holmes short stories in the order they were published by "The Strand Magazine":

  1. A Scandal in Bohemia (June 1891)
  2. The Red-Headed League (August 1891)
  3. A Case of Identity (September 1891)
  4. The Boscombe Valley Mystery (October 1891)
  5. The Five Orange Pips (November 1891)
  6. The Man with the Twisted Lip (December 1891)
  7. The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle (January 1892)
  8. The Adventure of the Speckled Band (February 1892)
  9. The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb (March 1892)
  10. The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor (April 1892)
  11. The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet (May 1892)
  12. The Adventure of the Copper Beeches (June 1892)
  13. The Adventure of Silver Blaze" (December 1892)
  14. The Adventure of the Cardboard Box (January 1893)
  15. The Adventure of the Yellow Face (February 1893)
  16. The Adventure of the Stockbroker's Clerk (March 1893)
  17. The Adventure of the Gloria Scott (April 1893)
  18. The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual (May 1893)
  19. The Adventure of the Reigate Squire (June 1893)
  20. The Adventure of the Crooked Man (July 1893)
  21. The Adventure of the Resident Patient (August 1893)
  22. The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter (September 1893)
  23. The Adventure of the Naval Treaty (October–November 1893)
  24. The Final Problem (December 1893)
  25. The Adventure of the Empty House (October 1903)
  26. The Adventure of the Norwood Builder (November 1903)
  27. The Adventure of the Dancing Men (December 1903)
  28. The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist (January 1904)
  29. The Adventure of the Priory School (February 1904)
  30. The Adventure of Black Peter (March 1904)
  31. The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton (April 1904)
  32. The Adventure of the Six Napoleons (May 1904)
  33. The Adventure of the Three Students (June 1904)
  34. The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez (July 1904)
  35. The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter (August 1904)
  36. The Adventure of the Abbey Grange (September 1904)
  37. The Adventure of the Second Stain (December 1904)
  38. The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge (1908)
  39. The Adventure of the Red Circle (1911)
  40. The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans (1908)
  41. The Adventure of the Dying Detective (1913)
  42. The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax (1911)
  43. The Adventure of the Devil's Foot (1910)
  44. His Last Bow. The War Service of Sherlock Holmes (1917)
  45. The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone (1921)
  46. The Problem of Thor Bridge (1922)
  47. The Adventure of the Creeping Man (1923)
  48. The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire (1924)
  49. The Adventure of the Three Garridebs (1924)
  50. The Adventure of the Illustrious Client (1924)
  51. The Adventure of the Three Gables (1926)
  52. The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier (1926)
  53. The Adventure of the Lion's Mane (1926)
  54. The Adventure of the Retired Colourman (1926)
  55. The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger (1927)
  56. The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place (1927)

Novels (by years published)

  1. A Study in Scarlet (1887)
  2. The Sign of the Four (1890)
  3. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1901-02)
  4. The Valley of Fear (1914-15)

literature
Dave J. Maggs
Dave J. Maggs
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Dave J. Maggs

I am a newbie when it comes to writing, this, then, is an exercise to practice and produce interesting stories/articles on areas that interest me.

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