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The Best of Sherlock Holmes
By Randall Stock, March 4, 2016
The manuscript for the first Brigadier Gerard story by Arthur Conan Doyle was feared lost for many years, but emerged for sale in 2016.
Headed on first page as "The Medal of Brigadier Gérard," as changed from an earlier title "The Mission of Brigadier Gérard" where the word "Mission" has been stricken and "Medal" written above it. Signed at end as "A Conan Doyle | 12 Tennison Road | South Norwood." Not dated, but 1894.
Conan Doyle's original autograph manuscript is written in ink on the rectos only of 41 pages of ruled paper. It measures 7 x 9 inches and includes revisions and corrections. The first page shows an accent mark over the "é" in "Gérard," but this mark did not appear in the published text in The Strand Magazine or the George Newnes first edition. See below for a photo of the manuscript's first page.
Conan Doyle's signature at the end of manuscript includes some stricken text, which appears to be "Md." While he had been a medical doctor, he largely turned to writing as his profession in 1891.
As shown here, the manuscript is bound in contemporary three-quarter calf and marbled paper over boards, with marbled endpapers. The spine consists of six panels, and is titled in gilt in the second panel as "THE MEDAL | OF | BRIGADIER | GERARD | [short rule] | CONAN DOYLE." The bound manuscript includes a printed half-title page and the bookplate of Herbert Foster Gunnison on the front pastedown.
There is a presentation inscription on a preliminary blank as "Presented to Herbert F. Gunnison with the warm regards of Irving Bacheller."
One of five Brigadier Gerard manuscripts for sale in 2016 by James S. Jaffe Rare Books of New York, who describes this one as "in fine condition; the binding lightly rubbed."
This story is typically referred to as "How the Brigadier Won His Medal" from its title in the first British book edition. Other titles include the following:
This story, the first of Conan Doyle's Brigadier Gerard tales, appeared in the December 1894 Strand Magazine as "The Medal of Brigadier Gerard." Conan Doyle wrote it as a standalone story before he left for his American lecture tour in October 1894. He read the tale at some of his lectures, and informed his mother in a 20 November 1894 letter from Boston that he now wanted to "do a whole series of Brigadier Gerard stories."
His interest in a series continued after he returned to England, and he wrote to Arthur Waugh on 18 December 1894, saying "I think of doing a series of six Brigadier Gerard Adventures." He soon produced seven more tales. The manuscript of his second Gerard story is dated 2 January 1895, and the eighth in this set is dated 31 May 1895.
The eight stories were collected in The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard (1896).
See my 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 "The Medal of Brigadier Gerard "
The manuscript description (above) has additional photos and information.
See the Jaffe catalogs for photos of the entire first and last pages of the manuscript.
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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