Sherlock Holmes - The Complete Long Stories
The 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories are collected in another volume: Sherlock Holmes - The Complete Short Stories (1928).
- Preface by Arthur Conan Doyle
- A Study in Scarlet
- The Sign of Four
- The Hound of the Baskervilles
- The Valley of Fear
- Sherlock Holmes - The Complete Long Stories (14 september 1929, John Murray [UK])
- Sherlock Holmes - The Complete Long Stories (14 september 1929, John Murray's Imperial Library [UK])
- Sherlock Holmes - The Complete Long Stories (1930-1931, Musson Book Co. [CA])
The following stories paint Mr Sherlock Holmes and his activities upon a somewhat broader canvas where there is room for expansion. This expansion must express itself in action, for there is no room for character development in the conception of a detective. Whatever you add to the one central quality of astuteness must in my opinion detract from the general effect. Other writers may however succeed where I fail.
The Study in Scarlet was the first completed long story which I ever wrote, though I had served an apprenticeship of nearly ten years of short stories, most of which were anonymous. It represented a reaction against the too facile way in which the detective of the old school, so far as he was depicted in literature, gained his results. Having endured a severe course of training in medical diagnosis, I felt that if the same austere methods of observation and reasoning were applied to the problems of crime some more scientific system could be constructed. On the whole, taking the series of books, my view has been justified, as I understand that in several countries some change has been made in police procedure on account of these stories. It is all very well to sneer at the paper detective, but a principle is a principle, whether in fiction or in fact. Many of the great lessons of life are to be learned in the pages of the novelist.
There was no American copyright in 1887 when the Study in Scarlet was written, so that the book had a circulation in the United States, and attracted some attention. As a consequence Mr Lippincott sent an ambassador over to treat for a successor. He had commissions for several British authors, and invited Oscar Wilde and myself to dinner to discuss the matter. The result was The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Sign of Four. Then came The Hound of the Baskervilles. It arose from a remark by that fine fellow, whose premature death was a loss to the world, Fletcher Robinson, that there was a spectral dog near his home on Dartmoor. That remark was the inception of the book, but I should add that the plot and every word of the actual narrative was my own. Finally, there is The Valley of Fear, which had its origin through my reading a graphic account of the Molly McQuire outrages in the coalfields of Pennsylvania, when a young detective drawn from Pinkerton's Agency acted exactly as the hero is represented as doing. Holmes plays a subsidiary part in this story.
I trust that the younger public may find these romances of interest, and that here and there one of the older generation may recapture an ancient thrill.
ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE.