The Best of Sherlock Holmes


Portsmouth Celebrates 125 Years of Sherlock with Beeton's 1887

By Randall Stock, November 21, 2012


One of the few existing copies of Beeton's Christmas Annual 1887, featuring the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes, will go on display at the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection in Portsmouth, England to honor 125 years of the world's greatest detective.


Copy R23: Beeton's Christmas Annual 1887 front cover at Portsmouth


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created the great detective in the spring of 1886 in a story entitled A Study in Scarlet. After being rejected by several publishers, the firm of Ward, Lock & Co. purchased the book but decided to wait until November 1887 to publish it in Beeton's.


Only 33 copies of Beeton's Christmas Annual 1887.are known to exist as of November 2012. Most of those are missing the original cover or advertisements, and fewer than a dozen are complete. Copies have sold at auction for more than $150,000, and the Antique Trader Vintage Magazines Price Guide calls it the most expensive magazine in the world.


Portsmouth acquired its copy as part of the collection of Richard Lancelyn Green, a writer and renowned Conan Doyle scholar. Described as the world's largest private collection of Conan Doyle books and memorabilia, it contains more than 55,000 items and includes a re-creation of Holmes's rooms at 221B Baker Street. The collection is valued at more than 3 million and was donated to Portsmouth after Green's death in 2004.


First page and illustration in Beeton's Christmas Annual 1887

The Lancelyn Green Beeton's 1887 at Portsmouth (R23) copy is complete. In 2003 Green said it was the most perfect copy he had ever seen and "probably the best in existence." Advertised by rare book dealer Peter L. Stern for $125,000 in 1990, Green acquired it as part of an exchange for a number of other valuable items.


It goes on exhibit at the Portsmouth City Museum from November 24 through January 2013. Due to its fragile condition, it will not be on permanent display.


Stephen Fry, a patron of the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection Lancelyn Green Bequest who also played Mycroft Holmes in the 2011 movie Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, said the exhibit highlighted "125 years of the world's most recognizable, enduring and influential detective".


Conan Doyle was living in Portsmouth and working as a GP when he created Sherlock Holmes. Earning relatively little as a doctor due to a slow medical practice, he wrote stories to supplement his income.


Portsmouth City Council's head of culture Stephen Baily said: "When Conan Doyle first started writing Sherlock Holmes's adventures 125 years ago, he could never have realised he'd created a global icon.


"Through books, films and the now the latest television series, Conan Doyle's famous detective still endures and also fascinates new audiences."



News articles about Portsmouth and the exhibit


Unless noted, online reports were available free to the public when originally posted. Some websites may remove online articles or charge for accessing older items.


Most are simply repeats or re-writes of the press release, so I list their URLs for reference but have not actively linked to them.


Portsmouth Press Release, November 20, 2012 (720 words)

Stephen Fry leads tributes to 125th anniversary of Sherlock Holmes

Includes background on ACD and Lancelyn Green, with extended quotes by Stephen Fry, Scirard Lancelyn Green, and Stephen Baily


For general info about the Lancelyn Green material, see the Portsmouth Conan Doyle Collection website



BBC News, November 21, 2012 (275 words)

Rare Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes book on display


The Daily Echo, November 21, 2012 (700 words)

Detective created by Arthur Conan Doyle first appeared 125 years ago


The [London] Evening Standard, November 21, 2012 (700 words)

Sherlock Holmes first edition goes on display


Huffington Post UK, November 21, 2012 (700 words)

Stephen Fry Celebrates 125th Anniversary Of Sherlock Holmes As First Edition Copy Of 'A Study In Scarlet' Goes On Display


Sky News, November 21, 2012 (249 words)

Sherlock Holmes Celebrates 125 Years


KLFM 967 Radio, November 21, 2012 (249 words)

Sherlock Holmes Celebrates 125 Years


Key 103 Manchester Radio, November 21, 2012 (233 words)

Sherlock Holmes Celebrates 125 Years


The Littlehampton Gazette, November 20, 2012 (283 words)

Exhibition marks Holmes anniversary

Press Association story


Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press, August 2004, 2012, p.2 (120 words)

["Conan Doyle Comes Home to Portsmouth...] by Peter E. Blau

Describes announcement of Green's collection going to Portsmouth


Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press, March 2004, 2012, p.7. (240 words)

["Richard Lancelyn Green ("The Three Gables") died on Mar. 27...] by Peter E. Blau

Obituary that mentions many of Green's published works



Photos courtesy of Portsmouth City Council, showing Beeton's 1887 copy R23 as held by Museums volunteer Aneta Martiskova.


My thanks also to Peter E. Blau and Roger Johnson.




Related Pages


Beeton's Christmas Annual 1887 Annotated Checklist and Census


Conan Doyle Manuscripts and the Sherlock Holmes Manuscript Census Summary


Other Conan Doyle rarities like Sidney Paget drawings and The Unique Hamlet


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





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