DOYLE, Arthur Conan, Sir. Autograph manuscript of the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire," signed ("Arthur Conan Doyle") on the upper cover of the binding, n.p., n.d. [ca. 1924], published in the Strand Magazine, January 1924, and collected in The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes (London, 1927).
24 pp., written in dark ink on one side only of 24 leaves of two different paper stocks: 11 sheets ship's stationery (235 x 180mm., versos of 6 sheets with printed heading "On board S.S....."), and 13 sheets good-quality lined paper (250 x 203mm.). Boldly titled at head of the first page "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire"; the last page (containing the Holmes's brief concluding note "Re Vampires," dated "Baker St. Nov. 21st," signed "Sherlock Holmes." Page 11 trimmed at bottom by Holmes in the editing process, as was often his practice. THE TEXT WITH SCATTERED AUTHORIAL CORRECTIONS AND REVISIONS. The verso of p.11 with a lengthy section of dialogue (some 160 words, describing Holmes's and Watson's first meeting with the ill-fated Ferguson family) which Doyle has neatly crossed through. Small puncture at upper corners where once pinned together, BOUND FOR THE AUTHOR in white buckram boards, upper cover gilt-lettered "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire," and, at bottom "A Sherlock Holmes Story." Quarter blue morocoo gilt protective case.
"RUBBISH, WATSON, RUBBISH! WHAT HAVE WE TO DO WITH WALKING CORPSES WHO CAN ONLY BE HELD IN THEIR GRAVE BY STAKES DRIVEN THROUGH THEIR HEARTS?"
HOLMES AND WATSON SOLVE A CASE OF ALLEGED VAMPIRISM IN SUSSEX, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original manuscript of what must be considered one of the most unusual cases undertaken by Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, involving a suspected case of inter-familial vampirism in idyllic Sussex. Mr. Robert Ferguson--whom Dr. Watson had known from his rugby-playing days--urgently requests Holmes's professional services in resolving a particularly gruesome and appalling case: Ferguson's Peruvian wife, whom he loves dearly, has been found with fresh blood on her lips, while their infant child has exhibited distinct tooth wounds on its neck. The lady, when confronted, had refused to explain her conduct, and been confined to her room.
At first, Holmes is extremely skeptical of the very idea of vampirism: "But what do we know about vampires?...Anything is better than stagnation, but really we seem to have been switched on to a Grimm's fairy tale." After some consideration, he exclaims, "Rubbish, Watson, rubbish! What have we to do with walking corpses who can only be held in their graves by stakes driven through their hearts? Its pure lunacy." Watson, characteristically, reminds Holmes that vampires prey on the living: "A living person might have the habit. I have read, for example, of the old sucking the blood of the young in order to retain their youth." Still, Holmes asks, "Are we to give serious attention to such things? This agency stands flat-footed upon the ground, and there it must remain...No ghosts need apply." In the end, though, having ascertained additional unusual facets of the case, Holmes is deeply intrigued, and after a face-to-face consultation with the distraught and heart-broken Ferguson, agrees that the case "does not appear to me insoluble."
In fact, Holmes, with his deep knowledge of human psychology, has already deduced the solution to the case of the Sussex Vampire. Applying elementary morbid psychology to the complex relationships in Ferguson's family yields a painful, but certain explanation. As he later confesses to Ferguson: "It has been a case for intellectual deduction, but when this original intellectual deduction is confirmed point by point by quite a number of independent incidents, then the subjective becomes objective and we can say confidently that we have reached our goal. I had, in fact, reached it before we left Baker Street, and the rest has merely been observation and confirmation."
Provenance: A New York collector, purchased from a New York antiquarian dealer (the House of El Dieff?) -- A lady, gift of the preceding.