Illustrations from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes


These illustrations by Sydney Paget are from Arthur Conan Doyle's The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

Doyle came to feel that Sherlock Holmes overshadowed every other piece of work he wrote. In 1893 Doyle killed off his famous detective in 'The Final Problem'. This frontispiece to The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes depicts the shocking scene where Holmes fights with Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. They both plummet off the edge of the cliff, supposedly falling to their deaths. The Strand Magazine, in which the Holmes stories were originally published, lost 20,000 subscribers overnight after the publication of 'The Final Problem'.

The second image digitised here is captioned 'Holmes gave me a sketch of the events'. Here we see Holmes, in what is now thought of as his trademark deerstalker hat, talking to his side-kick Dr Watson. Doyle never described Holmes as wearing a deerstalker, this choice of head-wear appears to be the invention of the illustrator Sidney Paget. Dr Watson was a very useful tool for Doyle, as the 'idiot friend' character Watson provided the perfect way for Holmes explain complicated plot lines and deceptions to the reader.

Full title:
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.
1894, London
Arthur Conan Doyle, Sydney Paget [Illustrator]
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

Full catalogue details

Related articles

An introduction to The Hound of the Baskervilles

Article by:
Greg Buzwell
The Gothic, Fin de siècle, Crime and crime fiction, Technology and science, London

The Hound of the Baskervilles merges two popular genres, the detective story and the Gothic tale. Here curator Greg Buzwell examines the novel’s depiction of scientific deduction, eerie landscapes and violent ancestry.

An introduction to The Moonstone

Article by:
Robert McCrum
The novel 1832–1880

Robert McCrum considers how Wilkie Collins combined plot, character and the imperial drama of India to create the first Victorian detective novel.

Sherlock Holmes, the world's most famous literary detective

Article by:
John Sutherland
Fin de siècle, Crime and crime fiction, Technology and science, London

Why has Sherlock Holmes continued to captivate readers generation after generation, while other fictional detectives of the Victorian period have been forgotten? To investigate, Professor John Sutherland explores shilling shockers, arch criminals, and forensic science.

Related collection items