DOYLE, Sir Arthur Conan (1859-1930). Autograph manuscript leaf from The Hound of the Baskervilles, first serialized in The Strand Magazine, August 1901-April 1902, published in book form by George Newnes, on 25 March 1902.
1 page, 2o (320 x 200 mm). Written in dark brown ink on the recto of a leaf of blue-lined, tan paper. With a number of cross-outs and interlinear additions. (Part of the compositor's copy, with a spindle hole in top left-hand corner and a pencil "7," in blank margin (denoting the 7th page in the chapter). (Neatly backed with laid paper, a tiny chip in lower margin, one minor smudge.)
"THE HOUND!" CRIED HOLMES. "COME WATSON, COME! GREAT HEAVENS IF WE ARE TOO LATE!": A NEWLY DISCOVERED LEAF FROM "THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES"
The sad fate of Doyle's original handwritten manuscript of The Hound of the Baskervilles is well known. As part of a 1902 promotional campaign in the United States, McClure, Philips & Co., Doyle's American publisher, broke up and distributed leaves of the manuscript to booksellers for window displays to boost sales. Only a small number survived this crass dismemberment. A recent online census by Randall Stock locates 35 extant leaves, most of them in permanent institutional collections. The complete manuscript, it has been conjectured, would have comprised 185-190 pages. For that reason, the discovery of the present previously unrecorded leaf takes on added significance. This text, from Chapter 12: Death on the Moor, is part of the turning point of the narrative. Holmes and Watson, intent on solving the hereditary curse of the Baskervilles, hear blood-curdling screams from the darkened moor and "a deep, muttered rumble, musical and yet menacing." Holmes leaps into action: "Come, Watson, come!" but despairs: "He has beaten us, Watson. We are too late." Holmes and Watson run over the moor, only to discover (text on H29) a mangled body they believe to be Sir Henry Baskerville. The text of this leaf precedes Stock's census number H29 and H30; both those are in the collection of the University of Minnesota. For Stock's census see http://www.bestofsherlock.com/baskervilles-manuscript.htm
Many of the surviving leaves from The Hound of the Baskervilles make no mention of the erstwhile Doctor Watson; this leaf names him four times. Holmes himself does not figure in about two-thirds of the novel, but he is named four times here, making this leaf exceptional by any standards.