The Essential Guide to Reading the Sherlock Holmes Books

Related Articles

 Exploring the World of Sherlock Holmes

The world of Sherlock Holmes has been capturing the imaginations of readers since it was first introduced to the public in 1892. For more than a century, Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick Dr. John Watson – and their memorable adventures – have been woven into the lexicon of literature and pop culture. Such is the lasting impact of the beloved detective and his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

This guide provides an introduction to the books of Sherlock Holmes – from the original four novels and fifty-six short stories published by author Arthur Conan Doyle to the numerous pastiches and sequels written in the years since.

What is Sherlock Holmes?

Sherlock Holmes is the fictional detective created by Scottish author Arthur Conan Doyle in the late 19th century. He is well-known for his investigative prowess, resourcefulness, and uncanny deductive abilities in solving seemingly impossible cases. His investigations take him all over London, often to seemingly mundane residences and gathering places where an extraordinary crime has been committed.

Strategy: Dive into the Original Sources

To get the most out of exploring the world of Sherlock Holmes, readers should not skip past the original source material. As with any classic work, the written record of its creator’s voice and vision is indispensable. Here’s a brief summary of the Sherlock Holmes books:

Sherlock Holmes Novels

The four novels featuring Sherlock Holmes form the basis of the detective’s adventures. Written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle between 1887 and 1927, these are essential reading for anyone new to the world of Sherlock Holmes. The novels are listed below in order of publication:

• A Study in Scarlet (1887)
• The Sign of Four (1890)
• The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902)
• The Valley of Fear (1915)

Sherlock Holmes Short Stories

In addition to his novels, Arthur Conan Doyle wrote fifty-six short stories featuring the great detective. Most of the stories appeared in The Strand Magazine from July 1891 to June 1927 and have been compiled into five collections:

• The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892)
• The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894)
• The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1905)
• His Last Bow (1917)
• The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927)

Sherlock Holmes and the Strand Magazine

The Strand Magazine was known for its serialization of great fiction in its magazine’s pages. As it happened, Arthur Conan Doyle was a friend of the magazine’s editor, and the two men struck up a business relationship in which the Sherlock Holmes stories were published in installments. The British public quickly embraced the character of Sherlock Holmes and the magazine’s readership doubled due to the detective stories’ popularity.

Connecting the Strand to Conan Doyle’s Original Work

The vast majority of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories first appeared in the magazine before being collected and published as separate books. Therefore, the magazine serves as an invaluable source of the earliest versions of Holmes’ adventures. As readers become familiar with the text published in the magazine, they can cross-reference it to the copies of the books in their collection to explore any differences and follow the evolution of the original stories.

The Story Continues

Beyond the selections of stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the world of Sherlock Holmes remains alive to this day through countless pastiches, parodies, and sequels.

Pastiche Novels

Pastiche novels give fans of Sherlock Holmes the opportunity to explore the stories of the famous detective from fresh angles and viewpoints. This can include stories published by other authors that use settings, characters, and references to the original Conan Doyle stories. Popular examples include:

• The Adventure of the Dead Rabbits Society by Michael Collins
• The Home of the Dead and Dying by Alistairso Wallace
• The Notched Hairpin by Guy Adams
• Hamlet’s Pillow by David Pirie

Parodies and Satires

The world of Sherlock Holmes has also been expanded through playful parodies and satires. From films to books, these works of fiction offer humorous send-ups of the original material while also staying true to their roots. Popular titles include:

• Sherlock: The Casebook by Laurie R. King
• Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye
• Baskervilles: An Affair in Five Acts by Peter Hayes
• The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother by Gene Wilder

Sherlock Holmes Sequels

In addition to the stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle and the fan fiction around them, the character of Sherlock Holmes can also be explored in sequels set in the same universe with concurrent stories. Two of the most famous examples include:

• The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series by various authors
• The Sherlock Holmes Chronology

The books of Sherlock Holmes offer fantastic opportunities for readers to dive into the world of late Victorian England. From the novels to the short stories, the authentic works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle remain the heart and soul of the detective’s adventures – providing the foundation for the rich network of stories and interpretations that continue to thrive over a century later.

No matter how you experience the stories of Sherlock Holmes, they offer tales of wit, knowledge, and fascinating clues that can truly captivate the mind.

More on this topic



Popular stories