The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

For The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes 1991 TV series, see Sherlock Holmes (1984 TV series).
The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

Dust-jacket illustration of the first edition of The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes
Author Arthur Conan Doyle
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Sherlock Holmes
Genre Detective fiction short stories
Publisher John Murray
Publication date
Media type Print (hardback)
Pages 320 pp
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 title of the American was The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes ("Case Book" as two words).

Further confusing the issue of the title, some later publishers published 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:

However, many newer editions of The Case-Book favour the following ordering:

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).


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.[1]

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.[2]

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.[3]

The Case-Book contains three stories 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.

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."[4]


  1. "Copyright Notes on the ownership of the Sherlock Holmes stories". Sherlockian.Net. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
  2. "Copyright Notes on the ownership of the Sherlock Holmes stories". Sherlockian.Net. Retrieved March 3, 2014.
  3. "Copyright". Sherlockian.Net. Retrieved 2014-03-03.
  4. Freeman, Kyle. "Introduction". The Complete Sherlock Holmes. 2: 35. ISBN 978-1-59308-040-2.
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