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The View from the East End (2)

By Inspector Hopkins

December 19, 2004

"The Many Facets of Sherlockiana"

Part 2: Canonical Tools

As a newer Sherlockian, it is quite easy to become overwhelmed by the vast amount of printed materials out there. To begin with, of course, the budding student will need to acquire a copy of the Sherlock Holmes adventures, and there are several ways to do this.

Originally, these stories appeared in magazines such as "The Strand" and "Colliers" and were published over a forty year period from 1887 through 1927. They consisted of four novelettes and fifty-six short stories. The four novelettes are "A Study in Scarlet", "The Sign of Four", "The Hound of the Baskervilles", and "The Valley of Fear". The fifty six short stories were later gathered up into five small volumes known as the "Adventures", the "Memoirs", the "Return", "His Last Bow", and the "Casebook".

In turn, these four novelettes and five volumes of short stories have been gathered up into one large volume containing all sixty Sherlock Holmes adventures, known collectively as the "Canon".

These large volumes may take the form of "The Complete Sherlock Holmes" (known as the "Doubleday" version), "The Oxford Sherlock Holmes", or the famous "Annotated Sherlock Holmes" by William S. Baring-Gould. The difference between these versions lies primarily in the order of presentation of the stories within the Canon. In addition, the "Annotated" version contains many extra notes, references, definitions, theories, and explanations regarding Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Usually a search in a used book store will turn up several Sherlock Holmes books which can be purchased very inexpensively. You may be able to find any combination of the above mentioned novelettes and small volumes, often in paperback. The larger volumes of the complete Canon are hardbound, and are usually published in two parts.

Part of the fun of Sherlockiana is in locating these delightful books, and some of us have even taken this to a hobby all unto itself! In my own case for instance, the first time out looking for Sherlock Holmes books turned up volume 2 of the Doubleday version for $3.

And on my next time out shopping, I was able to get both volumes of the "Annotated" in mint condition, with dust jackets, for $25! Now, that is a good deal, and those two books are the backbone of my Sherlockian library.

A new annotated version has just become available from entitled "The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes 150th Anniversary: The Short Stories", by Leslie S. Klinger. This work retails for about $50 plus shipping, but, as the title suggests, it only covers the short stories and not the novelettes.


If you are reading this, then you have figured out how to get around the Internet, and you can read the entire Canon for free if you wish! See the following link to do this:

If you are really cyberphilic, you can also get the complete Canon (plus more) in Adobe Acrobat format, with search capabilities, on a CD, for only $10 from BSI member Bill Dorn:

Once you get your copy of the Canon, in whichever form or version it might be, read it and savor it! As I had mentioned to you last time, I first started to read through it in no particular order. Part of the beauty of the Canon, is that it is written in such a way that it is possible to either start at page one, or to plunge right in at any of the stories. It doesn’t really matter in what order you read them, because you will be reading them many more times than just once.

You will soon discover that for yourself!

Until next time, and thanking you for your time and attention, I remain,


Yours faithfully,