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The Best of Sherlock Holmes
By Randall Stock, March 4, 2016
Arthur Conan Doyle's manuscript, with editorial notations on the first page, was feared lost for many years until it emerged for sale in 2016.
Headed on first page as "The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard | IV | How the Brigadier came to the Castle of Gloom". Signed at end as "A Conan Doyle | Belvedere | Davos Platz." Not dated, but 1895.
Conan Doyle's original autograph manuscript is written in ink on 21 pages. folio & 8vo. It includes revisions and corrections.
The notation "Not to be published before July 7" appears in another hand at the top of the first page. James Jaffe attributes it to Irving Bacheller, who syndicated the story in America. Despite this admonition, a number of American newspapers carried it on July 6.
Another notation appears in the upper left corner of the first page. Though partially obscured by the binding, it's probably "9040 words" since the published text was about 9,000 words. The faint initials below it might be "H.G.S." If so, that would almost certainly be Herbert Greenhough Smith, the editor of The Strand Magazine. See below for a large photo of the manuscript's first page.
It is bound together with three other Brigadier Gerard manuscripts that were also written and published in 1895. The overall volume includes the bookplate of Herbert Foster Gunnison and a presentation inscription from Irving Bacheller to Gunnison. For details and a photo, see the bound manuscript.
One of five Brigadier Gerard manuscripts offered in 2016 by James S. Jaffe Rare Books of New York.
After finishing his first Gerard story, Conan Doyle decided to write an entire series featuring Brigadier Etienne Gerard. These later stories appeared under the series title "The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard," and used Roman numerals starting with "I" despite the prior publication of the first tale. Thus, the fifth published Gerard story, "How the Brigadier Came to the Castle of Gloom," carried a series number of "IV" on the manuscript and in the July 1895 Strand Magazine.
Although this manuscript is not dated, the manuscript of the second Gerard tale is dated 2 January 1895, and so this later tale was also finished in 1895. It was collected in The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard (1896) along with seven other Gerard stories.
For details about how the series began, see my page on "The Medal of Brigadier Gerard."
See also this page with more Brigadier Gerard publishing history.
Arthur Conan Doyle. Irving Bacheller (from inscription). Herbert Foster Gunnison. By descent from Gunnison. Offered by James S. Jaffe Rare Books in 2016.
More about Bacheller and Gunnison.
Top of first page of Conan Doyle manuscript for "How the Brigadier Came to the Castle of Gloom"
The manuscript description (above) has additional information.
Photos courtesy of James S. Jaffe Rare Books
My thanks to James Jaffe for additional details and photos of the manuscript.
The first version of this report appeared March 4, 2016.
James S. Jaffe sale of five Brigadier Gerard manuscripts
Checklist of non-Sherlockian Conan Doyle Manuscripts
Census of Sherlock Holmes Manuscripts
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