The Best of Conan Doyle’s Gothic Tales

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle revisits Conan Doyle’s best tales of terror

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had the rare and peculiar ability to make fiction seem real. When he killed off his most famous creation, Sherlock Holmes, in 1893, many of his devoted readers donned black armbands as a sign of mourning. He got letters from real people asking if he could pass their requests on to the great sleuth, in the hope that he might take up their real-life case. Many people have heard the mysterious story of the Marie Celeste, the ship which was found abandoned with everything perfectly preserved. In truth, there was no Marie Celeste: the actual ship was the Mary Celeste, which was found abandoned but was severely waterlogged. Its one boat was also missing, providing a clue as to how the ship’s crew had not-so-mysteriously disappeared. But it was the fictional version of events – with the story of the pristine ship – that took hold of the public imagination. And this version was the product of one man: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Doyle created this modern myth, taking

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10 of the Best Sherlock Holmes Stories Everyone Should Read

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 60 Sherlock Holmes cases in all: 56 short stories and four full-length novels. But where is the best place for the reader who is new to Sherlock Holmes to begin exploring these classic works of detective fiction? We offer our selection of the ten best Sherlock Holmes cases below.

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A Summary and Analysis of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Speckled Band’

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

The Adventure of the Speckled Band’ is one of the most popular Sherlock Holmes story written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Doyle himself recognised that many readers would include ‘The Speckled Band’ among their list of favourite Holmes outings. It’s easy to read Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories and enjoy them, with no additional analysis deemed necessary.

But closer inspection reveals its links to previous detective fiction and the reasons for its status as one of the finest of Doyle’s short stories.

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A Summary and Analysis of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

‘A Scandal in Bohemia’ was the short story that transformed the fortunes of Sherlock Holmes, or at least those of his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Although the great sleuth had previously appeared in two short novels, A Study in Scarlet (1887; it was originally published by Mrs Beeton’s husband, in Beeton’s Christmas Annual) and The Sign of the Four (1890), it would be the short stories, published in The Strand magazine from 1891, that would transform Sherlock Holmes into one of the most recognisable fictional characters in all fiction.

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Five Fascinating Facts about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

In honour of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday (he was born on 22 May 1859 – fans of The Smiths may be interested to learn that this was exactly 100 years to the day before Morrissey’s birth), we’re here with five of our favourite fascinating facts about the man who gave us Sherlock Holmes. 1. … Read more