The Best of Sherlock Holmes


Sherlock Holmes Manuscripts: A Census Summary

By Randall Stock and Peter E. Blau, May 1, 2016


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote his original manuscripts for the Sherlock Holmes stories by hand, and they are now the cornerstone for any great collection of mystery or detective fiction.  The Holmes manuscripts provide a unique view into a cultural icon with enduring popularity, and warrant ongoing research and appreciation.


NEWS: Holmes manuscript sold at Bonhams in April 2016


Photo from first page of a Sherlock Holmes manuscript

fMS Eng 63, Houghton Library, Harvard University


Manuscript History & Overview


Conan Doyle wrote 60 Sherlock Holmes stories.  He sold or gave away many of these manuscripts during his lifetime.  He passed on others through his children.  They eventually sold most of them, but his last surviving child, Dame Jean Conan Doyle (1912-1997), bequeathed three Holmes manuscripts to British institutions.  Her gifts included The Retired Colourman, The Illustrious Client, and The Creeping Man.


Approximately two-thirds of the manuscripts are known to exist, although some of these include only fragments.   It's possible that a few more still survive.  Indeed, a previously-unrecorded Holmes manuscript showed up in 2004, so one can hope that new discoveries will be made.


Almost all of the Holmes manuscripts written after 1902 still exist, in part because Conan Doyle started submitting typed copies to his publishers and retaining the original for himself.  Only 4 of the 27 manuscripts written before 1902 are known to survive, although a few leaves remain from three other tales.  Private collectors hold about half of the known existing manuscripts.


These manuscripts are valuable both as rare collectibles and as objects for scholarly research.  An accurate census is important; please contact me if you have information on any Conan Doyle manuscript.  I keep sources and details private upon request, so you can contribute to the census without being identified.


Sherlock Holmes Original Autograph Manuscripts Listing


Story Title
The Abbey Grange
The Bodmer Library, Cologny/Geneva, Switzerland.
The Beryl Coronet
Black Peter
Private Collector.
The Blanched Soldier
The Berg Collection, New York Public Library.
The Blue Carbuncle
The Boscombe Valley Mystery
The Bruce-Partington Plans
The Cardboard Box
A Case of Identity
Charles Augustus Milverton
Constantine Rossakis, MD, BSI.
The Copper Beeches
The Creeping Man
Arthur Conan Doyle Collection, Portsmouth, England.
The Crooked Man
Not identified (4 leaves). Previously Alastair Martin, BSI, died 1/12/10.
The Dancing Men
Private collector in Texas; previously owned by Brian Perkins.
The Devil's Foot
The Berg Collection, New York Public Library.
The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax
Private Collector.
The Dying Detective
Constantine Rossakis, MD, BSI.
The Empty House
The Rosenbach Museum & Library, Philadelphia.
The Engineer's Thumb
The Final Problem
The Lilly Library, Indiana University (1 leaf).
The Five Orange Pips
The "Gloria Scott"
The Golden Pince-Nez
The Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin.
The Greek Interpreter
Preserved in the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museums.
His Last Bow
Private Collector (13 leaves).
The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Illustrious Client
The National Library of Scotland.
The Lion's Mane
Constantine Rossakis, MD, BSI.
The Man with the Twisted Lip
The Mazarin Stone
  • Private Collector.
  • Toronto Public Library (The Crown Diamond).
The Missing Three-Quarter
The British Library, London.
The Musgrave Ritual
The Naval Treaty
The Noble Bachelor
The Norwood Builder
The Berg Collection, New York Public Library.
The Priory School
Glen S. Miranker, BSI.
The Problem of Thor Bridge
Not identified.
The Red Circle
The Lilly Library, Indiana University.
The Red-Headed League
The Reigate Squires
Constantine Rossakis, MD, BSI (1 leaf).
The Resident Patient
The Retired Colourman
The British Library, London.
A Scandal in Bohemia
The Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin.
The Second Stain
Haverford College, [Philadelphia] PA.
Shoscombe Old Place
The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Foundation, Switzerland.
The Sign of the Four
  • University of California, San Diego (first leaf)
  • Private collector (remainder with fair copy of first page)
Silver Blaze
The Six Napoleons
The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.
The Solitary Cyclist
  • Glen S. Miranker, BSI (first 40 leaves in two exercise books);
  • James Pepper (last 2 leaves in one exercise book).
The Speckled Band
Not identified. Last reported 1997.
The Stockbroker's Clerk
A Study in Scarlet
  • Unrecorded.
  • Estate of Mrs. Adrian Conan Doyle (one page of notes);
  • Constantine Rossakis, MD, BSI (Southsea notebook);
  • Toronto Public Library (Angels of Darkness).
The Sussex Vampire
Private Collector.
The Three Gables
Private Collector. Previously Walter Pond, BSI, died 1/11/03.
The Three Garridebs
Estate of Richard M. Lackritz, who died 9/5/09.
The Three Students
The Houghton Library, Harvard University.
The Valley of Fear
  • Stuart Rose.
  • Peter E. Blau, BSI (4 leaves of notes).
The Veiled Lodger
Private Collector. Previously Walter Pond, BSI, died 1/11/03.
Wisteria Lodge
The Yellow Face

Please contact me if you know the current location or have information on the history of any of these manuscripts.


Key to Census Entries & Terms


Story Titles: given in alphabetical order using the short form, omitting "The Adventure of"

Those familiar with story title abbreviations should note that IDEN, LAST, LADY, THOR, and TWIS alphabetize differently using the short form title.



"Private Collector" - someone who requested anonymity for this online census

"Unrecorded" - no definite record exists of the manuscript after publication of the story

Some closely-related original material may also be listed with certain stories (e.g., see "The Mazarin Stone")


Dates: given in the American form of month/day/year


Return to the top of the census table





Special thanks to Peter E. Blau for truly invaluable assistance with all things Sherlockian, and with Holmes manuscripts in particular.


Peter published his first census of Sherlock Holmes manuscripts for the BSI dinner in 1971, and for many years he provided updates to it at the Sherlocktron website.  In January 2012, he suggested that I should begin posting the census summary I delivered at the Harvard Conan Doyle Symposium in 2009 for the author's sesquicentennial.  I've updated some entries, and revised the format to make it more useful for general readers. 


Staff members at many of the libraries provided extra information about their holdings.  My thanks go to Peter Accardo (Harvard), Lynda Corey Claassen (UC San Diego), Stephen Crook (Berg Collection), Rachel Foss and Jamie Andrews (British Library), Claire Looney and Michael Gunton (Portsmouth), Richard Oram (Harry Ransom Center), Peggy Perdue (Toronto Public Library), and Dr. Murray Simpson and Derek Oliver (National Library of Scotland).  In addition, thanks to the Houghton Library at Harvard for the manuscript photo used above.  It shows the top portion of the first page of "The Three Students."


Finally, private collectors and Sherlockians graciously offered their expertise and knowledge.  I'm indebted to David Karpeles, Richard Lackritz, Glen Miranker, Diance Nolan, James Pepper, Brian Perkins, Sarah Ann Robertson, Stuart Rose, Constantine Rossakis, and others who preferred to remain anonymous.


While this census could never have been made without everyone's help, I am solely responsible for any errors or omissions.  If I omitted your name, please be assured it was inadvertent and let me know so I can correct it.



More About Conan Doyle Manuscripts and Related Pages


The Hound of the Baskervilles Manuscript Census


Main page for Conan Doyle Manuscripts


Checklist of Conan Doyle Manuscripts (not including the Holmes stories)


Facsimiles of the Sherlock Holmes Story Manuscripts (with links to online photos)


For more details about the census and Holmes manuscripts, see my paper given at the 2009 Harvard Conan Doyle Symposium, "A Sherlock Holmes Census: What's Really Out There" in Papers at an Exhibition, edited by Peter X. Accardo, John Bergquist, and Dan Posnansky (New York: The Baker Street Irregulars in cooperation with Houghton Library, 2009).


Ronald B. De Waal's The Universal Sherlock Holmes (volume 1) contains some additional information on the Holmes story manuscripts in entries C2315 C2374 on pp. 115-118.  An electronic version of this work is maintained at the University of Minnesota and it can be purchased from the Battered Silicon Dispatch Box.



The site also has details on other Conan Doyle rarities, including a census of Beeton's Christmas Annual 1887 with the first Sherlock Holmes story, a census of Sidney Paget original drawings, and a census of the rare first edition of "The Unique Hamlet", a Sherlock Holmes pastiche by Vincent Starrett.


While not rare, there are also lists of the each year's best Sherlock Holmes books & DVDs, the best Holmes stories, and the most famous Sherlock Holmes quotes.



Return to Manuscripts Home page and Introduction



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