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Grolier Club Exhibitions

The Hound of the Baskervilles in the UK

The best known, most beloved of Arthur Conan Doyle’s four novels and 56 short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles is a delight for the reader and collector alike.

After an absence of seven years, the detective returned to print in 1901 with the Hound’s serialization in both UK and US issues of the Strand Magazine. Set before his supposed death in 1893, the novel was a literary sensation. It is rich in gothic detail—an ancient family curse, a spectral hound, an eerie and treacherous landscape, an escaped convict, endangered young women—and illustrated with 60 Sidney Paget drawings, more than any other Holmes story. It opens with a famous deduction, which you can read in the author’s hand.

For me, manuscripts hold special pleasures. Reading handwritten words makes me feel as if I were present as the author put pen to paper. I’ve enjoyed discovering whether Conan Doyle wrote fluently (he did, and legibly), pondering what he struck out or inserted, or comparing the original and the printed text. Powerful as his printed words are, Conan Doyle’s handwritten words are even more affecting.

As artifacts, the manuscript leaves from the Hound tell a story themselves that both pleases and horrifies Sherlockians. On the one hand, Conan Doyle made an addition to the text that has become one of the best-known phrases in the Canon: “You know my methods. Apply them!”

On the other hand, the bulk of the manuscript has been lost to posterity through a publicity stunt. To boost sales, the American publisher S. S. McClure, Phillips & Co. broke up the manuscript and distributed single pages to bookshops for public display. Eventually most of the pages were ruined or discarded. Of an estimated 185 original leaves, only 37 leaves are known to survive.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Strand Magazine, Nos. 128–136, Vols. 22–23
London: George Newnes
August 1901–April 1902


Shown here is the first of the nine issues of the Strand in which the Hound first appeared. Readers who had been devastated by Sherlock Holmes’s apparent death in the 1893 story “The Adventure of the Final Problem” were jubilant over his revival. There were long lines outside the magazine’s offices, some people are said to have offered bribes for advance copies, and for the first and only time, the Strand needed a seventh printing.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles
Advertising broadsheet
10½ × 13½ in
London: George Newnes, Ltd., August 1901


The Strand Magazine promotion for the new Sherlock Holmes story is notable for its many typefaces. Resized as a newspaper ad, it also appeared in dozens of English, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh papers in the weeks leading up to the publication of the story’s first installment.

The Hound of the Baskervilles Original artwork for The Strand Magazine

Sidney Paget, The Hound of the Baskervilles
Original artwork for The Strand Magazine
Gouache, charcoal, and crayon on paper
7 × 11 in
London: George Newnes, January 1901

From its very beginning, The Hound of the Baskervilles serves up legends, sightings, and finally the deeds of an eerie, glowing, murderous creature in the Dartmoor wilds. Paget wisely doesn’t reveal the gigantic hound itself to readers until the story’s end, and then does so in only two drawings. His work is restrained and dramatic: a slash of white sets the hound’s still-glowing muzzle apart from the dark, foreboding moor with its clinging mist and threatening terrain.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles
Original manuscript leaf from Chapter I
12¼ × 8
 in

The second leaf of the Hound manuscript is one of only two consecutive leaves in private hands; the third leaf is displayed alongside it. (It is thought that the first leaf has not survived.) This is a textually rich page, notable for Holmes’s and Watson’s deductions about a visitor who had left behind his walking stick; for a variant of the detective’s hallmark phrase, “Interesting, though elementary”; and for a backhanded criticism that Watson interprets as a compliment:

“You are not luminous, but you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it.”

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles
Sequential manuscript leaf from Chapter I
With McClure promotional sticker
13½
× 8 in


The third leaf of the Hound manuscript contains six added words in Conan Doyle’s hand that have become one of Sherlock’s most famous phrases: “You know my methods. Apply them!” (Look about a third of the way down the page, on the left.) This manuscript leaf features a McClure promotional sticker, a vestige of a publicity campaign in which the publisher broke up the manuscript and distributed single pages to bookshops for public display.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles
Original manuscript leaf from Chapter X w
ith McClure promotional sticker, 12¼ × 8 in

This manuscript leaf from Chapter X also has the McClure promotional sticker attached. The text describes a scene set in Baskerville Hall, Watson concludes a conversation with Sir Henry Baskerville and (in the last paragraph) begins a run-on letter to Holmes, in all its gothic detail.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles
First edition, inscribed
London: George Newnes, Limited
March 25, 1902

This first book publication of the Hound came out in England as the magazine series was ending in the Strand, with an initial run of 25,000 copies. The book includes 16 of Paget’s 60 magazine illustrations and features a design by Alfred Garth Jones on the cover: a silhouette of the hound on the moor, in black, against a gilt moon. Inscribed on the title page.

Longmans’ Colonial Library: The Hound of the Baskervilles

Longmans’ Colonial Library:
The Hound of the Baskervilles
First colonial edition
London: Longmans, Green, and Co., April 2, 1902


The first colonial edition was “intended for circulation only in India and the British Colonies” and cost two shillings. Longmans’s print run was 15,000 copies: 13,000 printed in March and 2,000 in September.

Holograph letter to A. P. Watt

Holograph letter to A. P. Watt
On Crowborough stationery, July 18, 1910

In 1890, Conan Doyle signed on with agent A. P. (Alexander Pollock) Watt, founder, in 1875, of the first literary agency. Watt secured Conan Doyle his initial placement in the Strand (for “The Voice of Science”) in its inaugural issue of January 1891, placing his first Sherlock Holmes short stories with the new magazine later that year, and acting as Conan Doyle’s agent until his own death in 1914.

Conan Doyle’s side of their voluminous correspondence was often telegraphically concise, as seen here.The tiny glyph beneath Conan Doyle’s last name indicates that this piece of correspondence was written by his private secretary, Alfred H. Wood, whose handwriting was remarkably, sometimes nearly undetectably, akin to Conan Doyle’s.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles
Newnes Sixpenny Copyright Novels, No. 230
London: George Newnes, Limited, 1912
In original pictorial wrappers


Beside publishing magazines, Newnes maintained a wealth of imprints—The Strand Library, the Cabinet edition, the Sixpence series, Sixpenny Novels Illustrated, Sixpenny Copyright Novels Illustrated, the Souvenir Edition, Sixpenny Novels, the Copyright Novels, Popular Novels, and more. Sherlock Holmes appeared in them all.
This edition is flanked by related artifacts: Conan Doyle’s brief missive to Watt approving the publication, and the original artwork for its cover.

The Hound of the Baskervilles Original cover artwork

H. M. Brock, The Hound of the Baskervilles
Original cover artwork, 1912
Gouache and crayon on paper, 13¼
× 9¼ in

H. M. Brock (1875–1960) was one of a trio of illustrators, the others being Sidney Paget and Frederic Dorr Steele, who put an artistic stamp on the Sherlock Holmes stories that survives to this day. His gigantic hound is truly hellish, its slavering tongue and muzzle glowing through the fogbound moor.

A prolific English artist—one of four artist brothers who all shared a studio— Brock contributed to Punch magazine, produced posters for D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, created artwork for scores of books, and illustrated the Strand Magazine appearance of the Sherlockian story “The Adventure of the Red Circle.”

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles
Advertising poster for the Peter Cushing movie, 30×14 in
London: Hammer Film Productions, 1959

This is the first movie adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles to be filmed in color. The hellhound practically leaps from this flamboyant poster for the Hammer Film Productions movie of 1959, pairing two masters of horror, Peter Cushing as Holmes and Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville. A Holmes aficionado himself, Cushing added detail from the Canon to the movie. It was his suggestion that the Baker Street mantelpiece feature Holmes’s correspondence pinned with a jackknife, as in the original stories.

The Hound of the Baskervilles Original cover art and proof

John Holder, The Hound of the Baskervilles
Original cover art and proof

Pen and ink on paper, 9 × 6½ in
The Sherlock Holmes Collection
London: Penguin Books, 1981


This is the original cover illustration and proof for one of 10 Sherlock Holmes paperbacks issued in 1981 by Penguin Books as part of its Crime/Mystery series. Inscribed to me and signed in pencil.

The Hound of the Baskervilles in the UK