His Last Bow: Some Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes is the fourth collection of Sherlock Holmes stories published by Arthur Conan Doyles. It begins with a preface by Dr. John Watson, supposedly written in 1917, assuring the reader that Holmes is still alive but living in quiet retirement in Sussex.
This collection contains the well-known stories “The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans,” in which Holmes has to track down stolen plans for a new kind of submarine; and “The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot” in which a Cornish family is found one morning driven mad or dead, with expressions of horror on their faces. The titular story “His Last Bow” is set on the very eve of the outbreak of the First World War, and involves Holmes and Watson coming out of retirement to defeat a German spy.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was the first collection of Sherlock Holmes short stories Conan Doyle published in book form, following the popular success of the novels A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four, which introduced the characters of Dr. John Watson and the austere analytical detective Sherlock Holmes.
The collection contains twelve stories, all originally published in The Strand Magazine between July 1891 and June 1892. Narrated by the first-person voice of Dr. Watson, they involve him and Holmes solving a series of mysterious cases.
Some of the more well-known stories in this collection are “A Scandal in Bohemia,” in which Holmes comes up against a worthy opponent in the form of Irene Adler, whom Holmes forever after admiringly refers to as the woman; “The Redheaded League,” involving a bizarre scheme offering a well-paid sinecure to redheaded men; and “The Speckled Band,” in which Holmes and Watson save a young woman from a terrible death.
The Sign of the Four, initially titled just The Sign of Four, is the second of Doyle’s novels to feature the analytical detective Sherlock Holmes and his faithful companion and chronicler Dr. Watson. The action takes place not long after the events in A Study in Scarlet, the first Holmes novel, and that prior case is referred to frequently at the beginning of this one.
Holmes is consulted by a young woman about a strange communication she has received. Ten years previously her father Captain Morstan went missing the night after returning from service in the Far East before his daughter could travel to meet him. He has never been seen or heard of ever since. But a few years after his disappearance, Miss Morstan was startled to receive a precious pearl in the mail, with no sender’s name or address and no accompanying message. A similar pearl has arrived each subsequent year. Finally, she received an anonymous letter begging her to come to a meeting outside a London theater that very evening. She may bring two companions. Naturally, Holmes and Watson accompany the young woman to the mysterious meeting, and are subsequently involved in the unveiling of a complex story of treasure and betrayal.
The Return of Sherlock Holmes is the third collection of Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, published in 1905. It includes stories published in The Strand Magazine in 1903 and 1904, bringing Holmes for the first time into the twentieth century.
Doyle had memorably “killed off” Holmes in a struggle with his nemesis Professor Moriarty in the story “The Final Problem,” which had appeared in 1893 (and which is included in the collection The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes). Intense public demand for more Holmes material after that had led to Doyle writing the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles, and then finally to return to writing Holmes short stories once more. The first story in this collection, “The Adventure of the Empty House” finds Dr. Watson united once again with his old friend Sherlock Holmes, who explains how and why he faked his death at Reichenbach Falls.
Apart from the leading story which “resurrects” Holmes, this collection contains a number of the best-known Holmes stories. “The Adventure of the Dancing Men” has Holmes deciphering a cryptogram to solve a mystery; encountering a callous blackmailer in “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton;” working out why cheap busts of Napoleon are being shattered all over London; and possibly averting a major European war in “The Adventure of the Second Stain.”
It would be hard to nominate a more well-known character in English literature than that of the austere analytical detective Sherlock Holmes, created by Arthur Conan Doyle in the late 1880s. Holmes, alongside his friend and biographer Dr. John Watson, appeared in two initial novels and dozens of short stories serialized in popular magazines, attracting a devoted, almost fanatical following which continues to this day.
The Hound of the Baskervilles, serialized in 1901–1902, was the third novel featuring Holmes and Watson. Sherlock Holmes is consulted in his Baker Street apartment by Dr. Mortimer, a physician now living on the fringes of Dartmoor. He gives Holmes and Watson an account of a centuries-old legend, in which a hell-hound slaughtered the debauched heir of the Baskerville family who had been in lecherous pursuit of an innocent maiden across the moor. The same hound is reputed to have harrowed several of the subsequent heirs to the estate.
This ancient story might be dismissed as mere fancy, but for the fact that the elderly Sir Charles Baskerville recently died in very mysterious circumstances, apparently fleeing in terror from something which came from the moor. Dr. Mortimer is concerned that the new heir, Sir Henry, just returned from Canada, may be at risk from this supernatural beast. Holmes is intrigued, but being too busy to go himself, sends Dr. Watson to accompany Sir Henry to the ancestral home on Dartmoor and to report anything suspicious.
The Hound of the Baskervilles is arguably the best, and certainly the most popular, of Doyle’s novels featuring his iconic detective. It has been translated into almost every language in the world and been the basis of dozens of movies (starting as early as 1914), radio plays and comic books.
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, published in 1894, is the second collection of Sherlock Holmes stories published in book form. All of the stories included in the collection previously appeared in The Strand Magazine between 1892 and 1893. They purport to be the accounts given by Dr. John Watson of the more remarkable cases in which his friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes becomes involved in his role as a consulting detective.
This collection has several memorable features. The first British edition omitted the story “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” which appeared in The Strand in 1893. This story did appear in the very first American edition of the collection, immediately following “Silver Blaze,” but it was quickly replaced by a revised edition which omitted it. Apparently these omissions were at the specific request of the author, who was concerned that its inclusion of the theme of adultery would make it unsuitable for younger readers. The story was, however, eventually included in the later collection His Last Bow, but it is out of chronological position there. In this Standard Ebooks edition (as in most modern British editions), we have included this story to restore it to its correct chronological place in the Holmes canon.
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes is also notable because by this time Doyle had tired of the Holmes character and decided to kill him off, so that this was intended to be the last Holmes collection ever to be published. It contains several of the best-known Holmes stories, including “Silver Blaze,” “The Musgrave Ritual,” and “The Greek Interpreter,” which introduces Sherlock’s brother Mycroft; and of course “The Final Problem” in which Holmes struggles with his nemesis Professor Moriarty.
The Valley of Fear is the final novel in the Sherlock Holmes series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The story originally appeared over several issues of the monthly Strand Magazine in late 1914 before being published as a standalone work. While Doyle would continue to publish Sherlock Holmes short stories until 1927, The Valley of Fear remains Holmes’ final long-form appearance.
In the novel, Holmes and his assistant Watson are called to assist with an investigation into the murder of John Douglas, a man shot in his own home at point-blank range with a shotgun. As evidence is examined and witnesses within the house are questioned, Holmes uncovers holes in testimonies and a connection to a secret society that no one wishes to discuss.
Even though Doyle is most famous for his Sherlock stories, he was also a prolific novelist, and The Lost World is one of his more famous non-Sherlock novels. Like many novels of the day, it was first published serially.
In it we meet a group of adventurers who head to a deep South American jungle to explore rumors of long-lost dinosaurs. The plot is driven by their journey, discoveries, and subsequent narrow escape. Notably, The Lost World is the novel in which Doyle’s popular recurring character, Professor Challenger, is introduced.
Doyle based many of the characters and locations on people and places he was familiar with: the journalist Ed Malone was modeled on E. D. Morel, and Lord John Roxton on Roger Casement; the Lost World itself was based on descriptions of Bolivia in letters sent to Doyle by his friend Percy Harrison Fawcett.
The novel remains hugely influential and widely adapted today. The title might even remind modern readers of a certain very famous movie franchise about dinosaur theme parks!
A Study in Scarlet is the novel which first introduced Arthur Conan Doyles’ iconic characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. It was published in 1887 in a popular magazine, Beeton’s Christmas Annual. It attracted little public attention at the time, but interest in Holmes continued to build with the subsequent series of short stories Doyle wrote featuring the austere, analytical detective—now one of the most well-known characters in all of English literature.
A Study in Scarlet is told from the point of view of Dr. John Watson, a medical doctor who has recently returned to London after suffering serious injury and illness as part of the Army Medical Department deployed to Afghanistan. In precarious health and even more precarious financial straits, he’s looking for cheap lodgings when a friend introduces him to Sherlock Holmes. The pair agree to share the rent of a flat Holmes has found.
Watson is baffled by his companion’s strange nature, his peculiar interests, his unusual breadth of knowledge in certain fields alongside his shocking ignorance in others, and his many strange visitors. Only eventually does Watsonb discover that Holmes has set himself up as the world’s first “consulting detective,” and it’s not long before Watson finds himself assisting Holmes in a mysterious case. The body of a man has been found in an abandoned house, without wounds or other marks of injury. But on the wall, scrawled in blood, is the word RACHE. The subsequent unravelling of the mystery takes many unexpected turns.