The great collector and Sherlockian evangelist John Bennett Shaw was known, among many other things, for creating his Basic Holmes Library—commonly called the Shaw 100. But he really couldn’t keep it to just 100.
Not long ago, a budding Sherlockian asked me for a key list of a dozen or so books. How could I do that when Shaw’s “basic” list was more than 100? The answer is that my purpose is not to cover the field. My roster of seven books is designed to plunge the neophyte very quickly into the Sherlockian world, particularly the earliest players and their writings. I can almost guarantee that some of your favorites aren’t on it.
Here we go:
From Holmes to Sherlock by Mattias Boström—an amazing history of the Sherlockian world from Conan Doyle to Cumberbatch
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes by Vincent Starrett—the first and best biography of Sherlock Holmes
Studies in 221B: Studies in Sherlock Holmes, edited by Vincent Starrett—the first BSI anthology of Writings About the Writings
Profile by Gaslight, edited by Edgar W. Smith—the best (I think), BSI anthology of Writings About the Writings
The Standard Doyle Company, edited by Steve Rothman—a compendium of Christopher Morley’s writings about Sherlock Holmes
“A Remarkable Mixture,” edited by Steven Rothman—an anthology of award-winning essays in the BSJ from 1959 to 2007
The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, by Leslie Klinger—invaluable as a quick reference to major commentaries on issues raised in each story