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Manuscript for early Sherlock Holmes could fetch £1 million

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Published Time: 12.05.2024 - 22:40:25 Modified Time: 12.05.2024 - 22:40:25

Arthur Conan Doyle wrote The Sign of Four in 1889 as the second novel featuring the famous detective The handwritten manuscript for one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes mysteries could fetch a record £1 million at auction

Arthur Conan Doyle wrote The Sign of Four in 1889 as the second novel featuring the famous detective


The handwritten manuscript for one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes mysteries could fetch a record £1 million at auction.

The Edinburgh-born author wrote The Sign of Four in 1889 as the second novel featuring the famous detective and his assistant Dr Watson.

Published the following year, the murder mystery has since been adapted for the screen numerous times with Peter Cushing, Peter O’Toole and Benedict Cumberbatch among the stars portraying Holmes.

The 160-page bound manuscript, signed twice by the author, will go under the hammer at Sotheby’s in New York on June 26.

Considered “the most significant Conan Doyle manuscript ever to be auctioned” it is estimated at £650,000 to £1,000,000.

Originally titled “The Sign of The Four”, the novel saw the return of Holmes two years after the first novel, A Study in Scarlet.


Conan Doyle was commissioned to write the story by Joseph Marshall Stoddart, managing editor of the American publication Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, over a dinner at the Langham Hotel in London, also attended by Oscar Wilde.

By the end of the evening, Conan Doyle had agreed to write The Sign of Four for the magazine, while Wilde committed to producing “The Picture of Dorian Gray”.

The novel appeared in Lippincott’s Magazine in February 1890 and was then published in book form by Spencer Blackett in October the same year.

Conan Doyle’s manuscript contains edits to “Americanise” the text for publication in the United States.

Richard Austin, Sotheby’s Global Head of Books & Manuscripts, said: “Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is one of the most universally beloved writers, whose classic tales of Sherlock Holmes have delighted readers for more than a century.

“The autographed manuscript of Conan Doyle’s iconic work, The Sign of Four, is an exceptionally rare piece of literary history, offering a unique glimpse into Doyle’s writing process.

Conan Doyle studied medicine

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