The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle

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"The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle"
Short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Peterson shows Holmes and Watson the surprising item found inside the goose, 1892 illustration by Sidney Paget
Text available at Wikisource
CountryUnited Kingdom
Genre(s)Detective fiction short stories
Published inStrand Magazine
Publication dateJanuary 1892
SeriesThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Man with the Twisted Lip
The Adventure of the Speckled Band

"The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" is one of 56 short Sherlock Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the seventh story of twelve in the collection The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. It was first published in The Strand Magazine in January 1892.[1]


As London prepares for Christmas, newspapers report the theft of a near-priceless gemstone, the "Blue Carbuncle", from the Countess of Morcar's hotel suite. The police arrest John Horner, a plumber with a criminal record who was in the Countess's room repairing a fireplace grate.

Meanwhile, at 221B Baker Street, Dr Watson finds Sherlock Holmes contemplating a battered old hat brought to him by Peterson, a commissionaire who seeks Holmes's help in returning it and a Christmas goose to their rightful owners after he found them dropped in the street during a scuffle. A nametag on the goose reading "Henry Baker" is of little assistance as the name is a very common one. Ultimately, Peterson takes the goose home for dinner while Holmes keeps the hat to study as an intellectual exercise.

An excited Peterson finds the stolen gem in the goose's crop. Holmes studies the hat, deducing Baker's age, social standing, intellect, and domestic status. When Baker appears in response to advertisements that Holmes placed in the London newspapers, Holmes offers him a new goose. Happily accepting the replacement bird, Baker refuses the original bird's entrails, convincing Holmes that he knew nothing about the gem and that he had innocently purchased the goose, as he says, at the Alpha Inn, a pub near the British Museum.

Holmes and Watson visit the pub, where the proprietor informs them that the bird had been purchased from a Covent Garden dealer. However, the latter refuses to help, complaining that he been repeatedly pestered by another man about geese purchased by the Alpha Inn. Realising that he is not the only one aware of the goose's importance, Holmes tricks the dealer into revealing that the bird was supplied to him by its breeder, Mrs Oakshott of Brixton. The dealer's other "pesterer" arrives – it is James Ryder, head attendant of the hotel where the gem was stolen.

James Ryder imploring Holmes' mercy

Back at Baker Street, a remorseful Ryder admits that he and his accomplice, the Countess's maid, had contrived to frame Horner, believing that his criminal past would make him an easy scapegoat. During a visit to his sister, Mrs Oakshott, Ryder decided to feed the gem to a goose she had promised him as a gift, but had confused the bird with another. By the time he realised his mistake, his goose had already been sold. As it is Christmas, Holmes takes pity on Ryder and allows him to leave England, concluding that the latter is too frightened by what happened to offend again. Holmes is confident that Horner will be freed once the case against him collapses.

Publication history[edit]

"The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" was first published with eight illustrations by Sidney Paget in The Strand Magazine in January 1892,[2] and in the US edition of the Strand in February 1892.[3] It was also included in the short story collection The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes[2] published in October 1892.[4]


Film and television[edit]

A silent short film based on the story was released in 1923 as part of the Stoll film series starring Eille Norwood as Sherlock Holmes.[5]

Peter Cushing portrayed Sherlock Holmes in the 1968 BBC series. "The Adventure of Blue Carbuncle" is one of only six surviving episodes.[6]

Algimantas Masiulis played Sherlock Holmes in a television film adaptation by Belarusfilm (1979).[7]

In 1984 the story was the subject of an episode of the Granada TV version directed by David Carson and starring Jeremy Brett.[8]

The animated television series Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century featured an adaptation of the story, replacing the goose with a blue stuffed toy called "Carbuncle" and the stone with a microprocessor.[9]

In 2014, it is referenced in "The Empty Hearse" from the BBC television series Sherlock, in which Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes make deductions about a man from his hat. Mycroft Holmes was portrayed by Mark Gatiss.

Radio and audio dramas[edit]

Edith Meiser adapted "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" as an episode of the radio series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The episode aired on 28 December 1932 (with Richard Gordon as Sherlock Holmes and Leigh Lovell as Dr. Watson).[10] Meiser also adapted the story for the radio series The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes as an episode that aired on 4 January 1940 (with Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Watson).[11] Another episode adapted from the story aired on 25 December 1944 (again starring Rathbone and Bruce, and with Eric Snowden as Peterson).[12] An adaptation written by Howard Merrill aired on 26 December 1948 (with John Stanley as Holmes and Wendell Holmes as Watson).[13]

A radio dramatisation adapted by Felix Felton was broadcast on the BBC Home Service on 10 December 1952, as part of the 1952–1969 radio series starring Carleton Hobbs as Holmes and Norman Shelley as Watson.[14] Other adaptations of the story in the same series aired on the BBC Home Service on 25 October 1957[15] and on the BBC Light Programme on 29 December 1961 (adapted by Michael Hardwick).[16]

A 1954 BBC adaptation starred John Gielgud as Holmes and Ralph Richardson as Watson.[17] The production first aired on the BBC Light Programme on 14 December 1954, and also aired on NBC radio on 13 March 1955.[18]

An audio drama based on the story was released in 1970 on LP record, as one of several dramas starring Robert Hardy as Holmes and Nigel Stock as Watson. It was dramatised and produced by Michael Hardwick (who adapted the 1961 radio adaptation) and Mollie Hardwick.[19]

"The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" was adapted as an episode of CBS Radio Mystery Theater featuring Kevin McCarthy as Sherlock Holmes and Court Benson as Dr. Watson. The episode first aired on 25 July 1977.[20]

A radio production adapted by Bill Morrison aired on 23 July 1978, with Barry Foster as Holmes and David Buck as Watson, as one of 13 Holmes stories adapted for BBC Radio 4.[21]

A BBC radio adaptation aired on 2 January 1991, as part of the 1989–1998 radio series starring Clive Merrison as Holmes and Michael Williams as Watson. The episode was adapted by Bert Coules, and featured Peter Blythe as James Ryder, Ben Onwukwe as John Horner, and Christopher Good as Peterson.[22]

An episode of the radio series The Classic Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was adapted from the story. Starring John Patrick Lowrie as Holmes and Lawrence Albert as Watson, the episode aired on 28 December 2008.[23]


It was adapted into one of the books of the Hong Kong children's book series The Great Detective Sherlock Holmes, as "The Fat Goose and Blue Carbuncle" (肥鵝與藍寶石). It is Book #3 of the original Chinese version,[24] and book #6 of the English version.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Blue Carbuncle". Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b Cawthorne (2011), p. 65.
  3. ^ Smith (2014), p. 55.
  4. ^ Cawthorne (2011), p. 54.
  5. ^ Eyles, Alan (1986). Sherlock Holmes: A Centenary Celebration. Harper & Row. pp. 132. ISBN 0-06-015620-1.
  6. ^ Barnes, Alan (2011). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Titan Books. p. 250. ISBN 978-0857687760.
  7. ^ The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  8. ^ "The Blue Carbuncle". IMDb. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  9. ^ Barnes, Alan (2002). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. p. 165. ISBN 1-903111-04-8.
  10. ^ Dickerson (2019), p. 49.
  11. ^ Dickerson (2019), p. 89.
  12. ^ Dickerson (2019), p. 150.
  13. ^ Dickerson (2019), p. 266.
  14. ^ De Waal, Ronald Burt (1974). The World Bibliography of Sherlock Holmes. Bramhall House. p. 385. ISBN 0-517-217597.
  15. ^ De Waal, Ronald Burt (1974). The World Bibliography of Sherlock Holmes. Bramhall House. p. 386. ISBN 0-517-217597.
  16. ^ De Waal, Ronald Burt (1974). The World Bibliography of Sherlock Holmes. Bramhall House. p. 388. ISBN 0-517-217597.
  17. ^ Eyles, Alan (1986). Sherlock Holmes: A Centenary Celebration. Harper. pp. 137. ISBN 0-06-015620-1.
  18. ^ Dickerson (2019), p. 286.
  19. ^ De Waal, Ronald Burt (1974). The World Bibliography of Sherlock Holmes. Bramhall House. p. 411–412. ISBN 0-517-217597.
  20. ^ Payton, Gordon; Grams, Martin Jr. (2015) [1999]. The CBS Radio Mystery Theater: An Episode Guide and Handbook to Nine Years of Broadcasting, 1974-1982 (Reprinted ed.). McFarland. p. 219. ISBN 9780786492282.
  21. ^ VV341 – The Valley of Fear
  22. ^ Coules, Bert. "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes". The BBC complete audio Sherlock Holmes. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  23. ^ Wright, Stewart (30 April 2019). "The Classic Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Broadcast Log" (PDF). Old-Time Radio. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  24. ^ "大偵探福爾摩斯#3 肥鵝與藍寶石". 正文社 (in Chinese (Hong Kong)). Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  25. ^ "The Great Detective Sherlock Holmes #9". 正文社. Retrieved 7 May 2023.


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