The Best of Sherlock Holmes


"The Marriage of the Brigadier" Manuscript:

Toronto Library Adds to its Conan Doyle Collection

By Randall Stock, February 4, 2014 (first posted 11/12/13)


The Toronto Public Library added the original manuscript of "The Marriage of the Brigadier" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to its holdings in October 2013. Once owned by William Randolph Hearst, it was the last Brigadier Gerard story written by Conan Doyle.


Marriage of the Brigadier manuscript cover


The Marriage of the Brigadier Manuscript Description


Written in ink on the rectos only of ten sheets measuring 13 x 8 inches, with some corrections and insertions by the author. Signed at the end as "Arthur Conan Doyle | Windlesham | Crowborough." Not dated. With a separate signed autograph title page showing the variant title "The Marriage of Brigadier Gerard." Entitled "The Marriage of the Brigadier " at top of the first page, which includes a pencil notation "3600 words." Pinhole at upper left corner of the sheets.


Bound in vellum by Spealls for Conan Doyle, with his holograph note (shown above) at top left of the cover as "The Marriage of Brigadier Gerard | A Conan Doyle." The manuscript is thus signed three times. Binder's mark in upper left corner of front pastedown. A small shelf label (from prior owner William Randolph Hearst) is affixed to the endpapers.


The separate title page is on a different type of paper and almost certainly created in preparation for binding. The variant title on both this page and the front cover suggest Conan Doyle inscribed the cover shortly after binding.


Acquired with a purpose-made box for the manuscript, which has "250-" in pencil ion the inside of the box.


Library Catalog Record: 823.91 D598.304 1910



About the Brigadier Gerard Stories


Marriage of the Brigadier illustration by Gilbert Holliday

Conan Doyle is best known for his Sherlock Holmes stories, but he created a number of other popular series with recurring characters. Professor Challenger appeared in a several science fiction/fantasy stories including The Lost World, which later inspired Jurassic Park. Brigadier Etienne Gerard featured in 18 short stories published in The Strand Magazine.


The Gerard tales involve the adventures of a French cavalrymen during the Napoleonic wars. Etienne Gerard, a brave but vain and unaware hero who is frequently tricked by a beautiful woman, narrates the often comic and satirical stories to a group of old friends during his retirement in Paris. Most of the tales were collected into two books: The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard (1896) and The Adventures of Gerard (1903).


Conan Doyle wrote his last Gerard story, "The Marriage of the Brigadier," in 1910. Gilbert Holliday produced four illustrations for its appearance in The Strand Magazine (one shown at left), and the tale was reprinted in Conan Doyle's collection The Last Galley (1911).


While Brigadier Gerard is not as famous as Sherlock Holmes, many people find the Gerard stories to be highly enjoyable. Cliff Goldfarb, author of The Great Shadow: Arthur Conan Doyle, Brigadier Gerard, and Napoleon, spoke about them at an Indiana University symposium in 2009. He particularly recommended "How the Brigadier Rode to Minsk" and "How the Brigadier Played for a Kingdom."


A good book version is The Complete Brigadier Gerard (Canongate Classics), edited and with an introduction by Owen Dudley Edwards, available in both paperback and Kindle from Amazon US. A Barnes and Noble edition of The Complete Brigadier Gerard, edited and with an introduction by Cliff Goldfarb, is available in Nook format.



History of the Manuscript


According to letters from Conan Doyle to his mother reprinted in A Life in Letters, he wrote "The Marriage of the Brigadier" in 1910 between April 6 and the end of May. The story was first published a few months later in the September 1910 issue of The Strand Magazine, and in the October 1910 copy of the New York edition of the Strand. He had the manuscript sheets bound by Spealls, probably in late 1913 with many of his other manuscripts.


He sent "The Marriage of the Brigadier" to auction at the American Art Association in New York along with 24 other manuscripts, where they were offered on 31 January 1923. Gabriel Wells, a dealer, bought the Brigadier manuscript for $50. Two days later he sold it to William Randolph Hearst for $75. Hearst had purchased a number of Conan Doyle manuscripts at the auction and held a significant collection of the author's material. See the BSI Manuscript series book Irregular Stain (2013) for details on Hearst's purchase of "The Second Stain" manuscript in 1922.


Hearst fell into financial trouble in the late 1930s, and eventually had to sell at least half of his massive collection. Some went to auction, but many items were sold at Gimbel Brothers department store in New York. A catalog of some of those items listed the Brigadier manuscript, and it sold on 27 August 1941 for $49.50. That buyer has not been identified (please contact me if you have any information), but many years later it was sold from an estate to Peter L. Stern, a dealer in rare books and manuscripts. Stern listed it for sale in his January 2008 catalog.


Using funds generously provided by Glen S. Miranker (through the American Foundation for the Toronto Public Library) and by the Friends of the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection, the Toronto Public Library Foundation purchased the manuscript from Stern. It was then added to the library's Arthur Conan Doyle Collection in October 2013.


News About the Manuscript


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. Articles will be added as they are published.


The Magic Door, Winter 2013, v. 15, n. 3

Conan Doyle's Napoleonic Era Writing by Cliff Goldfarb (pp. 1, 4, 6)

How the Brigadier Captured My Heart by Dayna Nuhn (p. 3)

Marriage of the Brigadier Manuscript by Randall Stock (pp. 1, 5, 6)

Articles about the Gerard stories and the manuscript


Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press, November 2013, page #3

[The manuscript of "The Marriage of the Brigadier"...] by Peter E. Blau



Related Reference Material


Goldfarb, Clifford S. "The Mettle of the Brigadier: How the Brigadier Found his Literary Place." The Baker Street Journal, v. 59, #4 (Winter 2009). Originally delivered at "The Remarkable Characters of Arthur Conan Doyle" symposium, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, on 26 September 2009. Also available in The Remarkable Characters of Arthur Conan Doyle edited by Joel B. Silver (2013).


Goldfarb, Clifford S. The Great Shadow: Arthur Conan Doyle, Brigadier Gerard, and Napoleon (Ashcroft, British Columbia: Calabash Press), 1997.


Lellenberg, Jon L., Daniel Stashower and Charles Foley (eds.). Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters (NY: The Penguin Press), 2007.


Stock, Randall. "Uncovering 'The Second Stain': Its History and Manuscript" in Irregular Stain, edited by Andrew Solberg and Robert Katz (New York: The Baker Street Irregulars in association with Haverford College), 2013.


Other Toronto Conan Doyle Holdings


The Arthur Conan Doyle Collection at the Toronto Public Library holds numerous Conan Doyle rarities.  This includes a number of Conan Doyle manuscripts, many Conan Doyle letters and notebooks, first editions of his books, a Beeton's Christmas Annual 1887 with the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes, and much more.


For details and links to photos of their holdings, see my page on Toronto's rare Conan Doyle material.  That page also has links to all of Toronto's online exhibits of Conan Doyle items.




My thanks to Peggy Perdue at the Toronto Public Library and to Cliff Goldfarb for their assistance with my research.




Related Pages


September 2010 Donation to Toronto Library of Conan Doyle Manuscripts


Five Brigadier Gerard manuscripts offered for sale


News Archive for Conan Doyle Manuscripts


Other Conan Doyle rarities like Beeton's Christmas Annual 1887 and Sidney Paget drawings.


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



Return to Conan Doyle Manuscripts home page and Introduction



Vers. 2.0dx-RN Original work
Copyright 2015  Randall Stock. All Rights Reserved.