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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes

Of all the literally thousands of Sherlock Holmes pastiches written, one of the most famous collections of them is The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes.

This classic contains six short stories by Adrian Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur's son, and six by him in collaboration with the great mystery writer John Dickson Carr. The stories were published in magazines from 1952 (the year I was born) to 1954. The book came out in 1954.

Although I'm not a collector, I'm fortunate to own three copies. The oldest is the one above, a fifth printing for which I paid one dollar, probably at a library sale. I also have a newer hardback edition and a paperback.

The edition shown above has a quote on the back that any author would envy. It's from Winston Churchill, commenting on Carr's The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: "I shall keep this book among my most treasured possessions." (My former boss, a multilingual intellectual, once said the same about The Complete Sherlock Holmes.) 

For years I had the impression that the two authors had a falling out that led to Carr leaving the project. But Douglas G. Greene's wonderful John Dickson Carr: The Man Who Explained Miracles, relates that Carr had a physical breakdown (only partially related to alcohol) that kept him from honoring his commitment. The strong Doyle-Carr friendship was ruptured for a while, but later repaired.

Today there is no shortage of Holmes pastiches in many different styles. But there's only one book of them written by the Literary Agent's son and one of the great mystery writers of the Golden Age of detective fiction.


  1. I remember enjoying these when I read them at 13 - and I should probably try them again. Have you seen the issues of Collier's where they first appeared - accompanied by Robert Fawcett's amazing illustrations?

    1. I haven't seen the Collier's, Ian, but I'd love to!

  2. Thanks for the info on this great book.

  3. Just Google "robert fawcett" "sherlock holmes" "collier's" - go to Images - and several will show up. My father (also an illustrator) extracted them from the magazines for his reference files, so I probably saw them before I even read the Canon. My absolute favorite is this one (though it's a bit washed out): http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Bgb--EINd_4/UKPYyxAEQwI/AAAAAAAADdg/gt-226dBh9A/s1600/fawcett+book+announcement.jpg