The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of twelve short stories by British writer Arthur Conan Doyle, first published on 14 October 1892. It contains the earliest short stories featuring the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, which had been published in twelve monthly issues of The Strand Magazine from July 1891 to June 1892. The stories are collected in the same sequence, which is not supported by any fictional chronology. The only characters common to all twelve are Holmes and Dr. Watson and all are related in first-person narrative from Watson’s point of view.

In general the stories in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes identify, and try to correct, social injustices. Holmes is portrayed as offering a new, fairer sense of justice. The stories were well received, and boosted the subscriptions figures of The Strand Magazine, prompting Doyle to be able to demand more money for his next set of stories. The first story, “A Scandal in Bohemia”, includes the character of Irene Adler, who, despite being featured only within this one story by Doyle, is a prominent character in modern Sherlock Holmes adaptations, generally as a love interest for Holmes. Doyle included four of the twelve stories from this collection in his twelve favourite Sherlock Holmes stories, picking “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” as his overall favourite.

Publication sequence

Stories by publication sequence
Title Publication Plot Ref.
“A Scandal in Bohemia” July 1891 The King of Bohemia engages Holmes to recover an indiscreet photograph showing him with the renowned beauty, adventuress and opera singer Irene Adler, the revelation of which would derail his marriage. [11][12]
“The Red-Headed League” August 1891 Jabez Wilson, a pawnbroker, consults Holmes about a job which he gained only because of his red hair. [13]
“A Case of Identity” September 1891 Against the wishes of her stepfather, Mary Sutherland has become engaged to Hosmer Angel. On the morning of their wedding Angel disappears en route to the church. [14]
“The Boscombe Valley Mystery” October 1891 Inspector Lestrade asks for Holmes’s help after Charles McCarthy is murdered and McCarthy’s son James is implicated. [15]
“The Five Orange Pips” November 1891 John Openshaw tells Holmes that in 1883 his uncle died two months after receiving a letter inscribed “K.K.K.” with five orange pips enclosed, and that in 1885 his father died soon after receiving a similar letter. [16]
“The Man with the Twisted Lip” December 1891 Neville St. Clair, a respectable businessman, has disappeared and his wife claims that she has seen him at the upper window of an opium den. [17]
“The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” January 1892 A “Blue Carbuncle” jewel is stolen from a hotel suite, and a former felon is soon arrested. However, an acquaintance of Holmes discovers the gemstone in the throat of a Christmas goose. [18]
“The Adventure of the Speckled Band” February 1892 Helen Stoner worries that her stepfather may be trying to kill her after he contrives to move her to the bedroom where her sister had died two years earlier, shortly before her wedding. [19]
“The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb” March 1892 An engineer, Victor Hatherley, attends Dr Watson’s surgery after his thumb is chopped off, and recounts his tale to Watson and Holmes. [20]
“The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor” April 1892 Lord Robert St. Simon’s new American bride, Hatty Doran, has disappeared almost immediately after the wedding. [21]
“The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet” May 1892 A banker asks Holmes to investigate after a “Beryl Coronet” entrusted to him is damaged at his home. [22]
“The Adventure of the Copper Beeches” June 1892 Violet Hunter consults Holmes after being offered a governess job subject to a number of unusual conditions, including cutting her hair short. [23]

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