If you’re a sleuth yourself, and/or a fan of detective novels, you’re no doubt familiar with the name of, arguably, London’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is a fictional detective, created by the Scottish author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Doyle, born in Edinburgh, studied in Jesuit schools for ten years, and finished his education by studying medicine at Edinburgh University. Some of his professors at the University became models for his later literary characters, including Sherlock Holmes. Although trained as a physician, Doyle was not particularly successful in private practice, and often wrote stories while waiting for his few patients. He wrote historical novels, essays, poetry, autobiography, and works on spiritualism and the supernatural, but his most successful works were the detective stories featuring Sherlock Holmes and his comrade, Dr. John Watson. Holmes and Watson solved crimes that even Scotland Yard could not resolve. Holmes was introduced in 1887 in “A Study in Scarlet,” published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual, and the address of 221B Baker Street became a part of the London landscape, even though it was then a fictional address. The characters of Holmes and Watson were instant successes, and stories of their adventures began to appear in the Strand Magazine. By 1890 Doyle had left his practice of medicine and concentrated his entire time to writing. Doyle eventually tired of his character, and killed him in “The Final Problem” published in 1893. But the public would not accept Holmes’ death, and Doyle resurrected him in 1903.
Numerous Sherlock Holmes clubs, called the Baker Street Irregulars, formed with many famous names on their rosters. Sherlock Holmes stories have been translated into more than 50 languages, and have been adapted into many genres such as plays, films, television series, and cartoons.
The library’s Rare Book Room houses two first edition volumes of the Sherlock Holmes stories,
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, published in London in 1892 by George Newnes, and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes,
published by Newnes in 1894. Both volumes are beautifully illustrated by Sidney Paget.
Thanks to Mr. Wilbur Fugate, class of 1934, for these wonderful volumes.