Friday, September 30, 2016

FFB: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is hardly a forgotten book. This famous collection of a dozen Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has been so popular that it has never been out of print since it was first published in 1892.

The forgotten part, for me, was the edition of this book that I read as a kid.

A few days ago, Patti Abbott, on her blog, asked the question: “Who were the first adult crime fiction writers you read?”

Right off the bat, I knew the first was Conan Doyle, and the book was The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I was hooked on Holmes after reading the first story, “The Red-Headed League.”

But “The Red-Headed League” is not the first story in the collection. So how did I come to read it first?

Traditionally, the stories in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes are:

“A Scandal in Bohemia”

“The Adventure of the Red-Headed League”

“A Case of Identity”

“The Boscombe Valley Mystery”

“The Five Orange Pips”

“The Man with the Twisted Lip”

“The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle”

“The Adventure of the Speckled Band”

“The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb”

“The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor”

“The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet”

“The Adventure of the Copper Beeches”

Still, I was sure “The Red-Headed League” was my introduction to Sherlock Holmes. I could not check the book because I have not seen it in years. One of my siblings might have it, and I’ll bet I know which one – the one who saved all the board games we had as kids.

A quicker way to find it than rummaging around in an attic, is rummaging around on the Internet. And that is what I did. There, I found the book, identified by the cover art of Cheslie D’Andrea (pictured here).

This version of Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, put out by Whitman Publishing, was an abbreviated collection in that it contained only eight of the Holmes stories:

"The Red-Headed League"

"The Boscombe Valley Mystery"

"The Five Orange Pips"

"The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle"

"The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb"

"The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor"

"The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet"

"The Adventure of the Copper Beeches"

Whitman, I learned, was part of Western Publishing of Racine, Wisconsin, a company that also published Golden Books for young children.

How this particular book first came into my hands, I do not know, but it made me a lifelong Holmes fan.

And, by the way, "The Red-Headed League," which I reread for this post, is even better than I remembered it.

(For more forgotten books, please see Patti Abbott’s blog.)


  1. I'm not familiar with this edition, and it's darn interesting that Whitman choose to cut those 4 stories. Perhaps just to make the book cheaper to produce? The cover is a clue they thought this a "juvenile" as they were then labeled. Thanks for this one.

    1. Thanks for checking out the post. Yes, I would say they cut 4 stories to produce an edition for kids, with larger type, that was not too heavy or too expensive.

  2. Holmes and Watson are old friends. Occasionally I pull them off the shelf to get reacquainted.

  3. One of these editions is packed with many dozens of books in boxes yet unpacked from my last move (going on four years ago, sad to say) but I'm thinking it must be the other one, as I do not recognize this cover. I do recognize the stories, though. But I think instead of digging through the boxes I'll look for an ebook, which is what I've been doing a lot of lately. Thanks for whetting my nostalgia!

    1. I have the two-volume complete works as well as a couple of beat-up old paperbacks of Holmes stories. Writing this post has whetted my own interest in reading more of them right now.

  4. Besides the hard copies of Holmes stories, I also, recently acquired the entire canon in audio version. A perfect way to spend a rainy day indoors. Or even, a perfect way to wile away the miles on a long drive. I've done both.

    THE RED HEADED LEAGUE is one of my all time favorites as well. I can't remember when I first read Conan Doyle, but I know I was young and impressionable. It's funny how once Conan Doyle gets you, he never lets go.

    1. Audio books are great for road trips. Dipping back into the Sherlock pages gave me a new appreciation of Conan Doyle’s skill as a writer. I always thought he was great, but seeing the way he weaves his tale and brings a reader into the Victorian world is something special.

  5. Elgin, I haven't read Conan Doyle in many years though I have been repeatedly tempted to read his short stories. We have a decent edition of his collection that I ought to pick up one of these days.

    1. Prashant – There were all kinds of rewards in rereading this one story for the post. I am going to slowly work through the volumes, one story at a time, with time in between, to not only enjoy the works, but also look closely at the writing.

  6. I read Holmes-Conan Doyle as a teenager. I don't think I'm tempted to revisit.