The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes
Dust-jacket illustration of the first edition of The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes
|Author||Arthur Conan Doyle|
|Genre||Detective fiction short stories|
|Media type||Print (hardback)|
|Preceded by||His Last Bow|
The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes is the final set of twelve (out of a total of fifty-six) Sherlock Holmes short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in the Strand Magazine between October 1921 and April 1927.
Title of collection
The first British edition and the first American edition of the collection were both published in June 1927. However, they had slightly different titles. The title of the British collection was The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (hyphenated "Case-Book"), whereas the title of the American edition was The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes ("Case Book" as two words).
Further confusing the issue of the title, some later publishers released the collection under the title The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes ("Casebook" as a single word).
The original chronological order in which the twelve stories in The Case-Book were published is as follows:
- "The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone" (1921)
- "The Problem of Thor Bridge" (1922)
- "The Adventure of the Creeping Man" (1923)
- "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire" (1924)
- "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs" (1924)
- "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client" (1924)
- "The Adventure of the Three Gables" (1926)
- "The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier" (1926)
- "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane" (1926)
- "The Adventure of the Retired Colourman" (1926)
- "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger" (1927)
- "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place" (1927)
However, the first edition of The Case-Book (1927) favours the following ordering:
- "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client"
- "The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier"
- "The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone"
- "The Adventure of the Three Gables"
- "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire"
- "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs"
- "The Problem of Thor Bridge"
- "The Adventure of the Creeping Man"
- "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane"
- "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger"
- "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place"
- "The Adventure of the Retired Colourman"
Because of the two orderings, "The Adventure of the Retired Colourman" (1926) has often been incorrectly identified as the last Sherlock Holmes story written by Arthur Conan Doyle to be published, when the last such story to be published is in fact "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place" (1927).
Copyright history and challenges
The copyrights for Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories expired in 1980 in Canada and in 2000 in the United Kingdom. In the United States, the only Sherlock Holmes works still protected by copyrights are portions of The Case Book. Two of the stories, published in 1921 through 1922, are already in the public domain; the rest will enter the public domain in various years leading up to 2023. A legal challenge that would have invalidated a 1998 extension to the length of copyright—putting Sherlock Holmes into the public domain immediately—was thrown out by the Supreme Court January 15, 2003.
The Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. claim they hold the American copyrights. The company has a web page setting out its views about other claimants to those rights. For background, see a note by Peter Blau, January 2011.
As 2013 came to an end, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois handed down a ruling about copyright protection, not for the stories themselves, but for the characters of Holmes and Watson. The defendant in the case was Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. The plaintiff was well-known Sherlockian editor, and Los Angeles entertainment lawyer, Leslie S. Klinger. In the case of Klinger vs. Conan Doyle Estate Ltd., the court ruled that the Holmes and Watson characters as described in the "story elements" that stem from most of the stories—those published before 1923—are in the public domain.
Literary significance and reception
Although some of the stories are comparable with Doyle's earlier work, this collection is often considered a lesser entry in the Sherlock Holmes canon. David Stuart Davies has commented that "The Adventure of the Creeping Man" "veers towards risible science fiction"; in the 1974 novel The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, author Nicholas Meyer's Watson claims that this entry, as well as three others from the Case-Book ("The Mazarin Stone", "The Three Gables" and "The Lion's Mane"), are forged "drivel". Kyle Freeman also suggests that "The Mazarin Stone" and "The Three Gables" may not be Conan Doyle's work, stating that "[a]lmost nothing about either of "The Mazarin Stone" or "The Three Gables" has the true ring of Conan Doyle's style about them."
Possible evidence for some Case-Book stories not being Doyle's own includes the fact that three are not narrated by Dr. Watson, as most Sherlock Holmes stories are. "The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone" is narrated in the third person, since it was adapted from a stage play in which Watson hardly appeared. "The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier" and "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane" are both narrated by Holmes himself, the latter being set after his retirement.
The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes was adapted for BBC Radio 4 in 1994–5 as part of Bert Coules' complete radio adaptation of the canon, starring Clive Merrison as Holmes and Michael Williams as Watson. Notable guest stars included Robert Glenister as James Dodd in "The Blanched Soldier" and Harriet Walter as Eugenia Ronder in "The Veiled Lodger". The episodes were written by Bert Coules, Roger Danes, Peter Ling, David Ashton, Robert Forrest, and Michael Bakewell, and directed by Enyd Williams and Patrick Rayner.
- "Copyright Notes on the ownership of the Sherlock Holmes stories". Sherlockian.Net. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- "Copyright Notes on the ownership of the Sherlock Holmes stories". Sherlockian.Net. Retrieved March 3, 2014.
- "Copyright". Sherlockian.Net. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
- Freeman, Kyle. "Introduction". The Complete Sherlock Holmes. 2: 35. ISBN 978-1-59308-040-2.
- Bert Coules. "His Last Bow". The BBC complete audio Sherlock Holmes. Retrieved 12 December 2016.