Sherlock Holmes Short Stories

Identify the unique features in the four novelettes and fifty-six short stories kept Sherlock fans begging for more.

Sherlock Holmes Pipe

Sherlock Holmes Books In Order

We use this numbering system to list the 60 stories (4 novels and 56 short stories) in the 9 books they were published in. See below for the list of short stories in each book. A couple of insignificant notes for those interested in fine details. The short story "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box" is included in The Memoirs of some versions and His Last Bow in others. Also the dates above for short stories indicate the dates they were originally pubished in magazines. The book collections were usually published the same year as the last story in the collection. You will see minor discrepencies as some stories were published in different magazines. Also note these are the dates of publication, not the date of the fictitious events that occured, which we refer to as the setting.

Sherlock Holmes Mysteries

Four Multi-Chaptered Stories

Arthur Conan Doyle produced a total 4 full length mysteries of the famous sleuth - in addition to his highly popular short stories. While the short stories are read more frequently, true Sherlockian fans continue to enjoy his larger books.

These Sherlock Holmes mysteries are sometimes called novelettes. Shorter than most novels, they are multi-chaptered stories usually less than 100 pages.

A. A Study In Scarlet

Published 1887

This is the original story which shows the opening of the career of Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective, and his beginning partnership with the injured army surgeon, Dr. John Watson.

Consisting of two parts, and fourteen chapters, it tells the story of a romance gone wrong. The content has a very negative portrayal of Mormons and is offensive to many modern day readers for that reason.

B. The Sign of Four

Published February 1890

The second of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, The Sign of Four, introduces the detective's Science of Deduction, the Baker Street Irregulars, and his client, Miss Mary Morstan - destined to become Mrs. Watson.

Offensive content includes his regular abuse of cocaine (not recommended for younger readers for that reason) as well as stereotyping of an islander native.

After this book was published, the short stories were written and sky-rocketed the popularity of Holmes and Doyle.

E. The Hound of the Baskervilles

Published 1902

The most famous of the full length Sherlock Holmes mysteries, The Hound of the Baskervilles, takes place after he has achieved notoriety as a detective. We also see Watson appearing solo as a detective as the two attempt to solve a sinister plot about a frightening family legend.

G. The Valley of Fear

Published Feb 1915

The last of the full length Sherlock Holmes mysteries revolves around a dead body, a non-grieving wife, and an old feud. This is a two part story with fourteen chapters. In the first part Sherlock solves the mystery of the murder. The killer then has a detailed flash-back explaining the reason behind the mystery. This mystery-in-a-mystery is a specialty of Doyle's seen also in his first novel.

56 Sherlock Holmes Short Stories

Sherlock Holmes Pipe

There are a total of 56 short stories in addition to the four longer mysteries described above. These stories were written over a period of many years and published individually in magazines as they were written. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle subsequently grouped and released them in volumes after they had been published as short stories.

C. Adventure of Sherlock Holmes

Published October 1892

The young detective has started to gain recognition by out-witting Scotland Yard (see Study in Scarlet above.) He further demonstrates his sagacious powers in these 12 adventures:

D. Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

Published July 1891

Some of the best cases of the now-famous detective are included in this set of stories. They culminate in the death of Sherlock Holmes, who Sir Arthur Conan Doyle desired to assassinate so he could get on with his own more serious writing. The stories include:
From The Adventure of the Empty House - Holmes: Describing his escape from death to Watson:
"There I was when you, my dear Watson, and all your following were investigating in the most sympathetic and inefficient manner the circumstances of my death. At last, when you had formed your inevitable and totally erroneous conclusions, you departed for the hotel and I was left alone."

F. The Return of Sherlock Holmes

Published 1905

Okay, so what does a famous author do when the public demands he resurrect their favorite detective after his death? Doyle had ho choice but to bring him back to life, which he fortunately could do by the way he originally wrote of Sherlock's death.

The convenience of having such a simple explanation for Sherlock's reappearance makes us wonder? Is it possible, in spite of his own words, that Doyle may have planned to bring him back all along?

Of course life can't be that perfect, so he trades Mrs. Watson's life for Sherlock's. Nice dramatic touch there, Sir Doyle!

Conveniently eliminating Mrs. Watson allowed the good doctor to focus more on Sherlock's mysteries and less on his own practice. A wife, a medical practice, a part-time job writing Holmes adventures AND being an assistant to the now internationally-acclaimed detective would be a lot on anyone's schedule.

His fans forgave him for killing Mrs. Watson (hah, he never even mentioned what happened to her) as they enjoyed the next series of Sherlock Holmes short stories including:

G. His Last Bow

Published October 1917

The fourth set of Sherlock Holmes short stories was written and published individually from 1908 to 1917. They were collected and published as a volume in 1917 as "His Last Bow: Some Remininces of Sherlock Holmes."

Unique feature of this collection The entire collection of 7 stories (eight in some American versions) bears the name of the final story: His Last Bow Therefore, when reading or writing about His Last Bow it is necessary to differentiate between the individual short story or the volume of 7 (or 8) stories. These were intended to be the final collection of Sherlock Holmes short stories. (Hmmm, where did we hear THAT before?)

Watson's Preface to His Last Bow collection
A one paragraph preface alerts fans that the aging detective is retired, "somewhat crippled by occasional attacks of rheumatism" and living on a small farm. He had a brief but temporary return to practice in 1917 in which time he patriotically aided his government as the Great War loomed large. Watson took this opportunity to present to the public seven additional cases that he had in his portfolio from prior years.

Readers will see how the partnership between the aging detective and his side-kick, Watson, changed as the decades advanced. In the final tale we meet Sherlock and Watson together one last time after his retirement - somewhat reminiscent of Robin Hood and Little John reuniting in Sherwood Forest. We learn that Sherlock has taken up bee-keeping and international espionage.

I. The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes

Published June 1927

The previous Sherlock Holmes short stories all appeared in more-or-less chronological order - and were written pretty close to the year in which the events were said to occur. In this final set of stories, Doyle gifted his readers with another 12 stories that were written towards the end of his career and told of events that occured in the earlier career of the now-retired Sherlock.

These stories include

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