The Best of Sherlock Holmes


Sherlock Holmes and "The Missing Three-Quarter" Manuscript:

A Special Display in Japan

By Randall Stock, April 23, 2012


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's manuscript for "The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter" was presented as a gift to the British people in 1959. In April 2012, the manuscript traveled to Japan as part of a showcase of British culture. See the Exhibitions and News sections for details.



The Missing Three-Quarter Manuscript Description


Conan Doyle's 25-page autograph manuscript also includes a handwritten and signed title page. It's not dated, but it is signed on the last page as "Arthur Conan Doyle | Undershaw | Hindhead." The first text page is headed "The Adventure of the Missing Three Quarter." It does not include the two slips of paper produced by Conan Doyle and attached to the manuscript to illustrate a clue in the case. The manuscript is bound in white vellum and includes the bookplates of prior owners Vincent Starrett and Rollin Van Nostrand Hadley.


The manuscript was purchased in 1959 for $1,000 and presented to the British Museum Library on the occasion of the centenary of Conan Doyle's 22 May 1859 birth. It was presented through the Friends of the National Libraries by James Bliss Austin, Lew David Feldman, E. T. Guymon, Rollin Van Nostrand Hadley, Edgar Wadsworth Smith, and the Sherlock Holmes Society of London. First published in the August 1904 issue of The Strand Magazine, the story made its American debut in the 26 November 1904 issue of Collier's Weekly. It later appeared in The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1905).


British Library:


See the BL Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue (not the general catalogue) and search for "MS 50065."

Their catalogue entry provides more details about the manuscript, but is almost certainly in error when describing it as a "fair copy."


More Information:

Redmond, D. A. "Textual Variations in 'The Missing Three-Quarter'," The Baker Street Journal, Vol. 35, No. 1 (March 1985), 9-11.


Skaet, T. C. "The Case of the Missing Three-Quarter," British Museum Quarterly, Vol. 22, No. 3/4 (April 1960), 54-56; also in Sherlock Holmes Journal, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Winter 1960), 17-18.


See also entries for "The Missing Three-Quarter" in the Checklist of Holmes Manuscript Facsimiles



Online News Articles About the Manuscript


The following reports were available online.


The Guardian, April 23, 2012 (775 words)

Taking Shakespeare to Japan by Jamie Andrews

The author brings the manuscript to Japan for a special exhibit, with brief comments about Holmes


The British Library press release, April 16, 2012 (550 words)

GREAT British icons bound for Tokyo

Announces "The Missing Three-Quarter" manuscript will be exhibited in Japan


Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press, March 2000, page # 3(50 words)

[John also has forwarded a story from The Independent...] by Peter Blau


The Independent (London), March 5, 2000, pp. 28-29 (740 words)

The Broader Picture: Truly Original Writing by Suzi Feay

Includes a photo of the first page of the manuscript and a passing reference to the Holmes story

[article no longer available for free online]



The Missing Three-Quarter Manuscript Exhibitions


See also the News section for related articles about each exhibition


Showcase of British Culture and Education

23-25 April 2012

The British Embassy, Tokyo, Japan

Includes Shakespeare's First Folio and Conan Doyle manuscript



Chapter & Verse: 1,000 Years of English Literature

10 March 15 October 2000

The British Library

BL Exhibit info (no mention of Conan Doyle)


Visitor description (far down the page) and his photo of the manuscript



Other British Library Conan Doyle Material


Some of the other Conan Doyle material at the British Library includes:


Conan Doyle's 1 April 1891 application to use the British Library Reading Room


The British Library published Conan Doyle's lost first novel using a manuscript from the family archives.


Dame Jean Conan Doyle bequeathed the manuscript of "The Retired Colourman" and two boxes of other Conan Doyle papers. to the BL, and it received this material in May 2004.


The heirs of Anna Conan Doyle offered a large collection of Sir Arthur's papers at auction at Christie's London on 19 May 2004. The BL purchased more than 1,000 documents at this auction, and later in 2004 acquired some additional Conan Doyle material that went unsold at the auction. The May 2004 Christie's sale page includes many details about the auction and an extensive set of links to news reports about it. The Conan Doyle Collection census provides a list of all the lots from that sale now held by the BL.


The British Library press release, 21 May 2004

Saved for the Nation: Conan Doyle manuscripts bought by the British Library

Describes purchase of over 1,000 documents by the BL at the 2004 Conan Doyle auction at Christie's

Originally posted at:

Archived at: Saved for the Nation: Conan Doyle manuscripts bought by the British Library



My thanks to Peter Blau for his assistance.



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