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Sherlock Holmes manuscript

1904

Sherlock Holmes

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  • Intro

    Sherlock Holmes is perhaps the most popular detective in literary history. The creation of Scotsman Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes is famous around the world for his brilliant analytical skills and his ability to sort carefully through the subtleties of complex clues.

     

    This is the meticulous manuscript of one of Conan Doyle's 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories, 'The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter', first published in 1904. One 'gloomy February morning', a 'weird' telegram is delivered to Holmes's flat at 221B Baker St, London, so beginning another fascinating mystery.

     

    In the audio recording available here, Conan Doyle explains how he was working as a young doctor when he first came up with the idea for Sherlock Holmes. He says he was inspired by a Doctor Bell of Edinburgh, who had 'the most remarkable powers of observation'. Bell, he says, 'prided himself that when he looked at a patient, he could tell not only their disease, but very often their occupation and place of residence.' Other fictional detectives, Doyle states, had obtained their information by chance rather than science; in creating Sherlock Holmes, he intended that science should 'take the place of chance'. The interview was recorded 14 May 1930.

     

    Shelfmark: Add. MS 50065, f.2.

  • Audio

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  • Transcript

    Sherlock Holmes manuscript

    Original text

     

    The Adventure of the Missing Three Quarter.

     

    We were fairly accustomed to receive weird telegrams at Baker Street but I have a particular recollection of one which reached us on a gloomy February morning some seven or eight years ago and gave Mr. Sherlock Holmes a puzzled quarter of an hour. It was addressed to him, and ran thus

        "Please await me/ Terrible misfortune/ Right wing three quarter missing, indispensable tomorrow. Overton."

        "Strand post mark and dispatched 10.36" said Holmes, reading it over and over. "Mr. Overton was evidently considerably excited when he sent it, and somewhat incoherent in consequence. Well, well, he will be here I dare say by the time I have looked through the Times and then we shall know all about it. Even the most insignificant problem would be welcome in these stagnant times."

     

        Things had indeed been very slow with us, and I had learned to dread such periods of inaction for I knew by experience that my companion's brain was so abnormally active that it was dangerous to leave it without material upon which to work. For years I had gradually weaned him from that drug mania which had threatened once to check his remarkable nature. Now I knew that under ordinary conditions he no longer craved for this artificial stimulus but I was well aware that the fiend was not dead but sleeping, and I have known that the sleep was a light one and the waking near when in periods of idleness I have seen the drawn look upon Holmes's ascetic face, and the brooding of his deep set and inscrutable eyes. Therefore I blessed this Mr. Overton, whoever he might be, since he had come with his enigmatic message to break that dangerous calm which brought more peril to my friend than all the storms of his tempestuous life.

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