The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Publication date 1927 Publisher doubleday & company, inc. Collection internet archive books Digitizing sponsor Kahle/Austin Foundation Contributor Internet Archive Language English Volume 2
Editor’s Note: Now free of copyright, multiple versions available for download. See also Volume 1
The complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle Publication date 1927 Collection internetarchivebooks Digitizing sponsor Kahle/Austin Foundation Contributor Internet Archive Language English Volume 1
Editor’s Note: Now free of copyright, multiple versions available for download. See also Volume 2.
Opinion by Roy Schwartz, Updated 2:06 PM ET, Fri May 20, 2022
(CNN) May 22 is “Sherlock Holmes Day,” honoring the birthday of his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Holmes, who turns 135 this year, is one of the most famous literary characters in the world and probably the most famous detective.
He’s come to be referenced as a historical figure rather than a fictional one (often at the expense of his actual author), with countless legends surrounding him. Perhaps the most popular is that he invented modern forensic science.
This particular aspect of Holmes lore has been addressed in articles, books, documentaries, and college courses and is even cited by forensic experts. But is it really true?
If he did, it would mean that, aside from entertaining generations of readers and viewers and inspiring dozens of other popular characters like Batman and House, M.D., he also deserves credit for helping solve thousands, if not millions, of crimes in the real world.
The Grolier Club, a private society for bibliophiles on the Upper East Side, with its marble foyer and dark wood-panelled gallery, would be a fine stage for a nineteenth-century fictional murder, perhaps done in the library with a candlestick, most certainly involving a will.
On January 12th, an exhibit called “Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects” opened there. It features a proper Baker Street-number of items from the collection of Glen S. Miranker, a former executive at Apple, who has been buying all manner of things Holmesian since 1977.
There are a number of Arthur Conan Doyle’s letters; an “idea book” in which he jotted notes for possible future stories; and a never-before-displayed speech, written by hand, in which Conan Doyle talks about why he killed off Holmes. There are also handwritten manuscript pages and a pirated copy of “The Sign of the Four,” which Conan Doyle apparently signed, despite loathing the pirating practice.
What’s a mystery all about? The ending? Well, of course, you say—the denouement, the unraveling of the clues, the big reveal. If it’s too easy to guess the ending before that very moment, or if the ending doesn’t seem to mesh with the clues provided by the author you’re disappointed with it. It’s a lousy mystery, right?
Really? Ever re-read a mystery? Even though you know the solution? (If you’re like me, of course, you can re-read it a year later because you’ve forgotten the solution, but that’s another matter.) But what’s the pleasure in re-reading if the entire pleasure is in the solution dangled like a carrot before you? Tom Stoppard, the great British playwright, opines that a play which depends on keeping its secrets isn’t worth viewing twice—which he found out the hard way. Which brings us to the mystery of Sherlock Holmes. If you’ve read a Holmes story, chances are you’ve read another, and if you’ve read two, you’ve probably read them all and re-read them all, and chances are you’ve picked every bone of that corpus clean, with a great deal of relish. Why on earth would you do that? Where’s the mystery in that? I’ll spill my solution up front: the mystery is in Holmes. It’s been said that next to Jesus and Hamlet, Sherlock Holmes has had more ink spilled about him than any man, real or fictional. Holmes is the black box of literature. Doyle’s genius is not in what he reveals, but what he conceals. The rue depth is not in the notes, but the silences.
Deerstalker hat? Check. Victorian-era London? Check. Dr. Watson valiantly trying to keep up? Definitely check.
Many of the tales in The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories are as Sherlock Holmesian as they come. But readers will deduce the big twist from the cover: Arthur Conan Doyle didn’t write most of them. Instead, this anthology – touted as the “biggest collection” of Sherlock Holmes stories ever – is full of fond tributes by other writers.