The Best of Sherlock Holmes


The Hound of the Baskervilles Manuscript Leaf H31

By Randall Stock, March 19, 2016


This leaf is one of only three privately-held chapter heading pages from Conan Doyle's classic tale of Gothic horror and suspense, which became one of the first bestselling novels of the 20th century.


The Hound of the Baskervilles manuscript leaf H31 - Chapter 13 first 3 lines


The Hound of the Baskervilles Manuscript (H31) Description


Headed at top of page as "Chapter XIII | Fixing the Nets." Not signed, no location or date, but 1901.


This leaf from Conan Doyle's original autograph manuscript is written in ink on one side only of a 12 3/4 x 8 inch sheet. Previously folded, it has archival repairs to and tape removed from the verso, but is in fine condition otherwise. It is housed in a custom gray cloth portfolio within a black morocco-backed marbled cloth box with gilt-lettering. See below for a photo of the entire manuscript leaf.


As noted in the census for The Hound of the Baskervilles manuscript, only 36 leaves from this story still exist and most of those are held by libraries and similar institutions. In addition to this leaf, there are only two other privately-held leaves that contain chapter headings (H7 and H27 on the census).


This leaf (H31 on the census) opens by mentioning Holmes's name in the first line of text. Watson is named twice, once with the well-known phrase "My dear Watson." Other references central to the story include the moor, the hound, and the death of Sir Charles Baskerville. Conan Doyle strengthened his plotting for the story's climax by cancelling a line on this leaf involving the hound's hiding place.


These fine textual attributes, combined with being a most unusual chapter head (see the history section), make for an especially appealing manuscript leaf. A different leaf from the Hound (H36) sold at auction in 2012 for $158,500.


This is one of five Conan Doyle manuscripts in the Bonhams 2016 auction.





Inspired by a west country legend conveyed to him by Bertram Fletcher Robinson, Conan Doyle wrote this tale in roughly three months from May to July 1901. His handwritten manuscript was broken up as part of a publicity campaign for the American publication of the book in 1902. Most of the manuscript is almost certainly lost, with only 36 leaves reported to still exist, and the majority of those held by institutions.


Conan Doyle originally planned for this text to be the opening of Chapter 13, but he changed that prior to its first serial publication. In The Strand Magazine, the text appears near the end of chapter 12, although the chapter head from this leaf is used for the heading to the Strand's Chapter 13. This change was carried through in the first English book edition, but both the first American edition and later American reprints by various publishers retained the chapter break and text as indicated on this leaf.


The Hound was serialized in both the London and New York editions of The Strand Magazine. The English version appeared from August 1901 through April 1902, while the American version went from September 1901 through May 1902. George Newnes published the English first edition of The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1902, and McClure, Phillips & Co. produced the American first edition.





A member of the Baker Street Irregulars literary society owned this leaf in 1952, and displayed it at the 6 November 1952 meeting of The Five Orange Pips in New York. Later owners included BSI members Lew David Feldman and Rollin Hadley. Pepper & Stern advertised it in 1989 in their Rare Books Catalogue 25, and it was last reported as owned by David Karpeles as leaf H31 on the manuscript census.



The Hound of the Baskervilles Manuscript (H31) Photo


Manuscript of The Hound of the Baskervilles - leaf H31

Leaf H31 of Conan Doyle manuscript for The Hound of the Baskervilles


The manuscript description (above) has more information.


See the Bonhams catalogue for other photos of the manuscript.



Acknowledgements and Page History


Photos courtesy of Bonhams


My thanks to Tom Lamb and Katie Segreto at Bonhams for photos and additional details about the manuscript.  Special thanks to David Karpeles for allowing me to examine the manuscript in 2012.


Details from Bonhams 2016 catalogue and other sources.  The first version of this report appeared March 19, 2016.



Related Pages


Bonhams April 2016 manuscript auction


Census of Sherlock Holmes Manuscripts


Census of the Manuscript of The Hound of the Baskervilles


Checklist of non-Sherlockian Conan Doyle Manuscripts


Lists of each year's best Sherlock Holmes books & DVDs, the most famous Sherlock Holmes quotes, and more Top 10 Lists.




Return to Manuscripts Home page and Introduction




Vers. 2.0bx-RN Original work
Copyright 2016  Randall Stock. All Rights Reserved.