Canon of Sherlock Holmes

Traditionally, the canon of Sherlock Holmes consists of the 56 short stories and four novels written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  In this context, the term "canon" is an attempt to distinguish between Doyle's original works and subsequent works by other authors using the same characters.



The traditional canon consists of the four novels and fifty-six short stories collected.


Here is the list of the four novels of the canon:

  1. A Study in Scarlet(published 1887)
  2. The Sign of the Four(published 1890)
  3. The Hound of the Baskervilles(serialised 1901 - 1902 in The Strand)
  4. The Valley of Fear(serialised 1914 - 1915)

Short stories

The 56 short stories are collected in five books:

  1. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes(published 1892)
  2. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes(published 1894)
  3. The Return of Sherlock Holmes(published 1905)
  4. His Last Bow(published 1917)
  5. The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes(published 1927)



The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of twelve short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was first published in 1892.

This is the first collection of Sherlock Holmes short stories, originally published as serialised single stories in The Strand Magazine from July 1891 to June 1892[1] with original illustrations by Sidney Paget. The book was published in England on 14 October 1892 by George Newnes Ltd and in a US Edition on 15 October by Harper. The initial combined print run was 14,500 copies.


Stories in the Book



The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes are a collection of twelve short stories published in The Strand as further episodes of the Adventures between December 1892 and December 1893 with original illustrations by Sidney Paget. They were first published as a collection in 1894.

They include one of the most famous Sherlock Holmes stories, "The Adventure of the Final Problem", in which Doyle "killed" Holmes. Several of the stories are told in a way which is more from Holmes' own point of view, as he tells Watson some of the early work that he did before meeting the doctor.





The Return of Sherlock Holmes

The Return of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of 13 short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. They were first published in The Strand Magazine between October 1903 and December 1904 with original illustrations by Sidney Paget. All of these stories take place after Sherlock Holmes' apparent death in "The Adventure of the Final Problem".

The book was first published in February 1905 by McClure, Phillips & Co. (New York) then on 7 March 1905 by Georges Newnes, Ltd. (London)

This was the first Holmes collection since 1893, when Holmes had "died" in The Final Problem. Having published The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1901–1902 (although setting it before Holmes' death) Doyle came under intense pressure to revive his famous character.

The first story is set in 1894 and has Holmes returning in London and explaining the period from 1891–94, a period called "The Great Hiatus" by Sherlockian enthusiasts.






His Last Bow (short stories)

His Last Bow (also known as The Reminiscence of Sherlock Holmes) contains seven stories published between 1908 – 1917. American editions often have "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box" in this collection instead of in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.

Also of note is John Watson's statement in the last story of the cycle that Sherlock Holmes has retired, and forbids him to publish any more stories.



The book contains a short preface that reads as follows:

The friends of Mr Sherlock Holmes will be glad to learn that he is still alive and well, though somewhat crippled by occasional attacks of rheumatism. He has, for many years, lived in a small farm upon the downs five miles from Eastbourne, where his time is divided between philosophy and agriculture. During this period of rest he has refused the most princely offers to take up various cases, having determined that his retirement was a permanent one. The approach of the German war caused him, however, to lay his remarkable combination of intellectual and practical activity at the disposal of the government, with historical results which are recounted in His Last Bow. Several previous experiences which have lain long in my portfolio have been added to His Last Bow so as to complete the volume.

John H. Watson, M. D.

Stories in the Book





The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes is the last Sherlock Holmes books to be written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was published in 1927 and contains 12 stories originally serialised 1921–1927.



Original Order (Written Order)

Newer Order

The real last Sherlock Holmes story ever written is "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place" rather than "The Adventure of the Retired Colourman".