Columbia Library columns (v.35(1985Nov-1986May))

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  v.35,no.2(1986:Feb): Page 12  

Sherlock Holmes:
The Detective As Hero


IN November, 1886 when, after several rejections. Dr. Arthur
Conan Doyle's novelette, A Study in Scarlet, was finally ac¬
cepted for publication by AYird, Lock and Company in
Beeton's Christmas Anmial, 1887, no one involved suspected that
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson were destined to be¬
come two of the most popular figures in literary history. The lack
of fanfare surrounding their debut is illusttated by the fact that,
although the publishers liked the talc, they bad no inclination to
rush its appearance or to increase their original offer of £25 for the
story and all rights to it. Doyle, eager for ready money, accepted
the terms and never earned another penny from it. But Doyle did
not remain an impecunious author for long. Over the next fotty
years, the doings of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson provided
him with an enormous, steady income.

A Study in Scarlet, not the most carefully plotted of the four
novelettes and fifty-six stories that comprise the Canon, the term
used for the complete collection by ardent admirers, served to in¬
troduce Holmes and ^A'atson to their adoring public. The publica¬
tion of "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place" in the Strand
Magazine for January 1927 brought the Sherlockian saga to a
close. The universal appeal these works achieved is obvious in the
light of a report issued in 195 8 by the Doyle Estate stipulating that
it was drawing royalties in seventy-two currencies. More recently,
Ronald Bnrt De Waal, in The World Bibliography of Sherlock
HolmesandDr. Watsoji (1974), lists 920 foreign editions in fifty
languages, thirty of which are English language readers published
in Japan for use by students. Editions are available in Braille and
shorthand as well.
  v.35,no.2(1986:Feb): Page 12