The Long Association of Arthur Conan Doyle & The Strand Magazine

by Margie Deck & Nancy Holder

When The Strand Magazine first published “The Terror of Blue John Gap” in August 1910, more than 130 previous issues of the magazine had included a piece of work by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. His relationship with the magazine began in 1891 and lasted to several months past his death in July 1930.

The first Doyle work to appear in the magazine, the short story “The Voice of Science” in March 1891, is perhaps little remembered today. However, the second, “A Scandal in Bohemia,” is certainly remembered: Sherlock Holmes, Dr. John Watson, and Irene Adler have never faded from the public’s imagination. That first Sherlock Holmes short story appeared in July and it changed the magazine and Doyle’s life, although neither particularly expected it at the time, as reported by Richard Lancelyn Green and John Michael Gibson in A Bibliography of A. Conan Doyle:

The author’s first story to be published in The Strand Magazine was ‘The Voice of Science’. It was sent by his new literary agent, A.P. Watt, before the magazine appeared for the first time. The editor acknowledged receipt on 24 January 1891; he was able to inform Watt that he would use the story and was satisfied with the rate of £4 per thousand words. It was not Conan Doyle, however, who interested him, so much as Rudyard Kipling, then the jewel in Watt’s Agency. In April Kipling was forgotten: Watt had sent him ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’. It was, he recalled in an obituary notice forty years later, ‘a gift from Heaven, a godsend in the shape of a story that brought a gleam into the despairing life of the weary editor. Here was a new and gifted story-writer; there was no mistaking the ingenuity of the plot, the limpid clearness of style, the perfect art of telling a story.’

The author was at the time in practice in Wimpole Street as an eye specialist. While waiting for his patients, he began writing to fill the time. He wrote three stories and sent them to the editor of The Strand, who asked for more. He told an interviewer in Tit Bits: ‘The more he asked for the more I turned out until I had done a dozen...That dozen stories being finished I determined they should be the end of all Sherlock’s doings.’

Of course, it was far from the end of “Sherlock’s doings.” Doyle would write 60 Sherlock Holmes tales in total, and The Strand would publish them all except for the first two Holmes novels that preceded “A Scandal in Bohemia.” The magazine would go on to publish a treasure trove of Doyle’s work. The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia tallies the Doyle input into The Strand at 121 short stories, 70 articles, 9 novels, 2 interviews and 1 poem dispersed in more than 280 issues.

Doyle died on July 7, 1930, in Crowborough. The Strand would continue to publish his writing through the end of the year: “The Parish Magazine” in August; “A Scandal in Bohemia” would be republished in September in conjunction with a 4-page memorial, “The Passing of Conan Doyle,” written by editor Herbert Greenhough Smith; Smith would write an article about and publish some of Doyle’s letters in October; “The End of Devil Hawker” in November; and “The Last Resource” in December.

Editor, Doylean, Sherlockian and Original Strand collector extraordinaire Charles Prepolec mentioned in conversation with us that it is his understanding that “A Scandal in Bohemia” is the only story that has ever been printed in The Strand more than once. He reviewed his September 1930 issue and advised us that—

The September 1930 issue opens with a 4-page memorial ‘The Passing of Conan Doyle’ by Strand editor Herbert Greenhough Smith. Following on the next page is the reprint of SCAN [“A Scandal in Bohemia”]. A small text block under the title says, “This story, the first of the long Sherlock Holmes series, appeared in “THE STRAND MAGAZINE” for July 1891. Apart from its historical importance, it has the additional interest of being one of “the twelve best Sherlock Holmes stories,” as selected by Sir Arthur himself. Our readers will appreciate the fact that some of the original illustrations have been specially reproduced.” As far as I can tell without a close reading, the text is the same, although some minor formatting changes have been applied in places, such as italics to Adler's final note. Only five of the original illustrations have been reprinted, a couple with minor caption changes, and curiously the sixth illustration is the classic shot of Holmes looking at the cypher from VALL [The Valley of Fear].

Copyright 2022 Margie Deck & Nancy Holder


‘So the old dog returns to his vomit’:
‘The Terror of Blue John Gap’ and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Readers

by Roberta Pearson

In the midst of working on a new Sherlock Holmes story, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote to Herbert Greenhough Smith giving him the news. Smith, the editor of The Strand, would undoubtedly have been delighted. Since The Strand’s 1891 publication of ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’, the first Holmes short story, the magazine and the fictional detective had become synonymous in the reading public’s mind. A new Holmes story would reinforce the magazine’s brand and perhaps boost its monthly circulation. But Doyle would not have shared his editor’s delight, bitterly remarking, ‘So the old dog returns to his vomit.’

continued . . .

Conan Doyle’s
Summer of 1910

by Mattias Boström

It was early August 1910, when Arthur Conan Doyle and his family arrived at the Beach Hotel in Littlehampton, Sussex. Six years had passed since he came to the same hotel to see Jean and her mother, while Touie was still alive. And now everything was so different in his life. Jean had become his second wife, and their first child, Denis, had turned one in March and was suffering from teething during the fortnight’s stay in Littlehampton.

continued . . .


front cover & matter: a (home) • b • c • d    back cover: e

text: 1234567 • 8 • 9 • 10 • 11 • 12 • 13
14 • 15 • 16 • 17 • 18 • 19 • 20


page c of the manuscript of "The Terror of Blue John Gap"

The autograph manuscript of “The Terror of Blue John Gap” reproduced above is courtesy of Dartmouth College Library, Rauner Special Collections, MS-93: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.



DOYLE (SIR ARTHUR CONAN). Original Autograph
Manuscript Signed of his short story
"The Terror of Blue John Gap". 20 pp.,
folio, neatly and closely written with
the title page also in Doyle's Auto-
graph, bound in full vellum with title
on cover in Doyle's Autograph.

The original manuscript very neatly written with
numerous Autograph corrections by the Author of a
fine mystery story comprising some 7300 words.
The Author himself had apparently preserved the
manuscript and had it neatly bound in full vellum,
supplying a title page in his own handwriting and
also written the title on the cover.

The full story as it was printed in The Strand is available at
The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia.