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Sherlock Holmes, and The Case of the Discovered Story

The_Book_o_the_Bri_3206554e[1]Arthur Conan Doyle penned 60 Sherlock Holmes stories in his lifetime – or so we thought yesterday. Historians have recently discovered what could be a previously unknown Holmes story.

The Telegraph reports that a Holmes story has recently been rediscovered tucked away in an attic:

An historian has unearthed the first unseen Sherlock Holmes story in more than 80 years that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote to help save a town bridge.

Walter Elliot, 80, found the 1,300-word tale starring the famous detective in a collection of short stories written for a local bazaar.

Originally published in 1904, Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, by deduction, the Brig Bazaar is a 1,300 story in which Holmes deduces Watson is going on a trip to Selkirk. It was written and donated by the author to help the Scottish town of Selkirk raise funds to build a new bridge to replace a wooden bridge washed out in a flood years earlier.


It was published as part of a 48-page pamphlet in 1904. No one knows how many copies were produced, but it does appear that the story (if genuine) had escaped the notice of Holmes historians. This story isn’t mentioned in any of the Holmes bibliographies I found online, nor has it been republished on the 90 years since it was first released.

That last is particularly surprising, given that the estate would surely have republished this story had they know it existed.

What with the publication of a new Dr Suess story, the "discovery" of Harper Lee’s unpublished manuscript by her attorney, and now a Holmes mystery seeing the light of day, 2015 is rapidly turning into the year of the found works.

But while we’re going to have to wait several months to read the new novels, the Holmes story is already online.

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pond February 20, 2015 um 1:38 pm

No doubt in the tale, "a ton of tobacco" is a typo for "a tin of tobacco" — Holmes would never speak so sloppily as to misstate the amount.

A very odd opening for the tale as well: as though Conan Doyle, or whoever did write it, was winking that this is not canonical!

puzzled February 20, 2015 um 5:59 pm

Good thing the story has already been published, otherwise the Estate would be using it to claim retaining copyright on the entire Holmes bibliography.

Nate Hoffelder February 20, 2015 um 6:10 pm

Yep. That’s why I was careful to phrase it such terms.

Did Conan Doyle Write That Lost Holmes Story? ⋆ Ink, Bits, & Pixels February 23, 2015 um 10:40 am

[…] Sherlock Holmes story discovered in an attic and revealed to the world last week may be a pastiche or homage, experts say. Mattias Boström, […]

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