A Study in Scarlet
A Study in Scarlet
A Study in Scarlet
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A Study in Scarlet

Arthur Conan Doyle

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A Study in Scarlet
Arthur Conan Doyle
DOYLE, Arthur Conan (1859-1930). A Study in Scarlet. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1890.

The first Sherlock Holmes story: presentation copy of the first American edition, inscribed by the author: ‘With A Conan Doyle’s kindest recollections of pleasant partnership in travel June 13th/91.’ Only one other presentation copy of this edition appears in auction records (RBH).

The first story to feature the world's most famous and iconic literary detective, A Study in Scarlet was written in just three weeks when its author was only 27 years old. It concerns the unravelling of a murder soon after the first meeting of Holmes and Dr Watson. This first American edition is of particular significance given the prominence of the American landscape and the Mormon religion in the novel: 'although it occurs in London, the homicide is precipitated by events in Utah Territory, which introduced a British audience to a vast frontier both untamed and beautiful’ (Dearinger).

Originally published in England in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887, the first American edition was issued in paper wrappers in March 1890 and in cloth in September of the same year. Loosely inserted into this copy is a tintype photograph which, according to a contemporary note, was taken at Venice and depicts the author and his wife Louisa alongside two travelling companions, Harriet White Gould and Louise Barrett White. It seems likely that the original recipient of this copy was one of these companions, especially as Conan Doyle is known to have visited Venice in 1891. Dearinger, Lindsay. ‘Mormonism in “A Study in Scarlet”: Colonization on the Frontiers (of Sherlockian Logic).’ CEA Critic 76, no. 1 (2014): 52–71; Green & Gibson A1b.

12mo (175 x 114mm). (Lacking advertisement leaf, old tape stain on front endpaper, minor soiling to title, title and contents leaf with short marginal tear not affecting text.) Rebound at an early date in green cloth, spine lettered in gilt, obituary clipping pasted to front endpaper (upper hinge split but holding, slightly cocked); housed in a custom modern quarter morocco box. Provenance: authorial presentation inscription on title, likely to one of Harriet White Gould or Louise Barrett White.

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