Sherlock and Arthur Conan Doyle

: A Study iScarlet embossed in gold

A Study in Scarlet embossed in gold

Willie Lieberman is a fourth-year student in the History honors program specializing in European Studies. 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1950) was a prolific writer who spearheaded the crime fiction genre with his iconic character Sherlock Holmes. The British author and physician created captivating universes and complex characters in his four novels and over fifty poems and short stories. He did not limit himself to just crime fiction – he branched out to a myriad of genres like science fiction, romance, and fantasy, too. The Rose Library is proud to hold several rare editions of his works. 

Red morocco binding of A Study in Scarlet

Conan Doyle’s literary inklings began years before he wrote the novel that launched him into fame. During his years as a medical student at the University of Edinburgh, he met a professor who would change his life. Dr. Joseph Bell was the inspiration behind Sherlock Holmes. Conan Doyle’s website states that Bell was a “master at observation, logic, deduction, and diagnosis,” which are all characteristics of Sherlock Holmes. The famed fictional detective and his trusty sidekick, Dr. Watson, are first introduced in Conan Doyle’s freshman novel, A Study in Scarlet (1887), and the Rose Library has a first edition. This handsome copy, which we acquired from the library of late British writer and journalist Graham Greene (1904-1991), 

Cover pages with illustration

is bound in full red morocco with numerous original engravings and illustrations by D.H. Friston, R. André, and Matt Stretch.

The Rose Library has first editions of several Arthur Conan Doyle works, including two more of his novels about Sherlock Holmes. Published over a decade apart, The Sign of Four (1890) and The Hound of Baskervilles (1902) remain beloved novels. We have both paperback and hardcover versions of The Sign of Four, the former version containing several pages of contemporary advertisements.

Hardcover and paperback versions of The Sign of Four

Advertisements in the paperback version of The Sign of Four








The Hound of Baskervilles cover

Our copy of The Hound of Baskervilles is in excellent condition. The stunning red cover with gold engraving is complemented by Sidney Paget’s illustrations throughout.

Illustration in The Hound of Baskervilles

Much to the public’s delight, Conan Doyle continued to write about Holmes and Watson for several years. He published a collection of his popular short stories in 1892, originally published over several years by The Strand Magazine, called The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. These tales have provided inspiration for a number of retellings that remain ardently adored to this day, including BBC’s critically acclaimed series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Holmes and Watson, respectively. Also included in Graham Greene’s library is a first edition of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes adorned with stunning illustrations by Sidney Paget (1860-1908).

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes cover

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes art

Graham Greene insignia in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Conan Doyle felt neutral about his eternal character, Sherlock Holmes. Despite constant demand from his adoring fans, the author went through multiple years-long phases of refusing to write about the character at all. The other stories he wrote never reached the popularity of those about Holmes, but Conan Doyle had passions besides fictional detective stories, one of which being true crime. In 1963, Peter Ruber’s Candlelight Press printed Strange Studies of Life, which was a collection of Conan Doyle’s three unknown stories based on true crimes provided by the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Society. This book is another of the Rose Library’s first editions, and it includes a profile of the author by Philip Trevor and an introduction and note on the illustrator by Peter Ruber.

Strange Studies cover

Strange Studies publishing info

Arthur Conan Doyle lived a fascinating life. He was multifaceted and inventive – a true original. His entire body of work includes almost 200 short stories, novels, and poems. Conan Doyle’s invention of Sherlock Holmes, the most famous fictional detective of all time, proves his authorial merit. His stories are eternal, and his characters are classic. Having created work that has remained relevant and recognizable for over 130 years, Arthur Conan Doyle is unparalleled in the literary community, and the Rose Library is excited to highlight our prized pieces of his vast legacy.