“The Adventure of the Dancing Men”
undated but 1903
Original holograph manuscript
The story of how Conan Doyle conjured the dancing men cipher is charming, revealing him to be as observant and as alert to oddities as his detective. While staying at the Hill House Hotel in May 1903, Conan Doyle signed the hotel’s autograph book and came across drawings by two children, Gilbert and Edith Alice Cubitt. The boy had drawn lines of letters decorated with little faces, and his sister had adapted musical notes into remarkably expressive stick figures to tell a brief melodrama. Conan Doyle conflated those elements into his dancing men and also gave the surname Cubitt to this tale’s heroine.
53 leaves bound in plain vellum over boards, 8½ × 6¼ in