The book's title derives from a speech given by Holmes, a consulting detective, to his friend and chronicler Watson on the nature of his work, in which he describes the story's murder investigation as his study in scarlet”: “There's the scarlet thread of murder running through the colorless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.” Only 11 complete copies of the magazine in which the story first appeared, Beeton's Christmas Annual for 1887, are known to exist now, and they have considerable value.
Although Conan Doyle wrote 56 short stories featuring Holmes, A Study in Scarlet is one of only four full-length novels in the original canon. A Study in Scarlet was the first work of detective fiction to incorporate the magnifying glass as an investigative tool.
Stamford takes Watson back to St. Bartholomews where, in a laboratory, they find Holmes experimenting with a reagent, seeking a test to detect human hemoglobin. Holmes explains the significance of bloodstains as evidence in criminal trials.
Original illustration of Holmes with magnifying glass, by David Henry Frisson. Left to right: Watson, Holmes, Lestrade, GregsonThe telegram requests a consultation in a murder case.
Holmes observes the pavement and garden leading up to the house before he and Watson meet Inspectors Greg son and Lestrade. The male corpse is identified as a wealthy man named Enoch Drabber.
They also learn from documents found on his person that he was in London with his secretary, Joseph Sanderson. He deduces that the victim died from poison and supplies a description of the murderer.
Upon moving Drabber's body, they discover a woman's gold wedding ring. Holmes and Watson visit the home of the constable who found the corpse and learn that a seemingly drunk loiterer had attempted to approach the crime scene.
Holmes reasons that the murderer returned on realizing he'd forgotten the wedding ring. Holmes dispatches some telegrams including an order for a newspaper notice about the ring.
He guesses that the murderer, having already returned to the scene of the crime for it, would come to retrieve it. The advertisement is answered by an old woman who claims that the ring belongs to her daughter.
Holmes gives her the duplicate, follows her, and returns to Watson later that night, explaining that she took a cab, he hopped onto the back of it, and when it stopped, he found that she had vanished. A day later, Greg son visits Holmes and Watson, telling them that he has arrested a suspect.
He had gone to Madame Charpentier's Boarding House where Drabber and Sanderson had stayed before the murder. He learned from her that Drabber, a drunk, had attempted to kiss Mrs. Charpentier's daughter, Alice, which caused their immediate eviction.
Drabber, however, came back later that night and attempted to grab Alice, prompting her older brother to attack him. Holmes tests the pills on an old and sickly Scottish terrier in residence at Baker Street.
Just at that moment, a very young street urchin named Wiggins arrives. When the cabby comes upstairs and bends for the trunk, Holmes handcuffs and restrains him.
He then announces the captive cabby as Jefferson Hope, the murderer of Drabber and Sanderson. The story flashes back to the Salt Lake Valley in Utah in 1847, where John Ferries and a little girl named Lucy, the only survivors of a small party of pioneers, lie down near a boulder to die from dehydration and hunger.
The Mormons rescue Ferries and Lucy on the condition that they adopt and live under their faith. Ferries, who has proven himself an able hunter, adopts Lucy and is given a generous land grant with which to build his farm after the party constructs Salt Lake City.
Years later, a now-grown Lucy befriends and falls in love with a man named Jefferson Hope. However, Ferries is visited by Young, who reveals that it is against the religion for Lucy to marry Hope, a non-Mormon.
Ferries, who has sworn to never marry his daughter to a Mormon, immediately sends out a word to Hope for help. When he is visited by Sanderson and Drabber, Ferries is angered by their arguments over Lucy and throws them out.
Hope finally arrives at the eve of the last day, and sneaks his love and her adoptive father out of their farm and away from Salt Lake City. However, while he is hunting for food, Hope returns to a horrific sight: a makeshift grave for the elder Ferries.
Determined to devote his life to revenge, Hope sneaks back into Salt Lake City, learning that Sanderson murdered Ferries and that Lucy was forcibly married to Drabber. Hope then breaks into Drabber's house the night before Lucy's funeral to kiss her body and remove her wedding ring.
Swearing vengeance, Hope stalks the town, coming close to killing Drabber and Sanderson on numerous occasions. Hope begins to suffer from an aortic aneurysm, causing him to leave the mountains to earn money and recuperate.
When he returns several years later, he learns that Drabber and Sanderson have fled Salt Lake City after a schism between the Mormons. Hope searches the United States, eventually tracking them to Cleveland ; Drabber has Hope arrested as an old rival in love; released from jail Hope finds that the pair then flees to Europe, where for a month he stays on their trail (St. Petersburg, Russia; Copenhagen, Denmark; Paris, France) eventually landing in London.
This is the story the handcuffed Hope willingly tells to Holmes, Lestrade, Greg son, and Watson. In London, Hope became a cabby and eventually found Drabber and Sanderson at Huston station about to depart to Liverpool for America.
Having missed the first train, Drabber instructed Sanderson to wait at the station and then returned to Madame Charpentier's house. After an altercation with Madame Charpentier's son, Drabber got into Hope's cab and spent several hours drinking.
Eventually, Hope took him to the house on Brixton Road, which Drabber drunkenly entered believing it was a hotel. Hope then forced Drabber to recognize him and to choose between two pills, one of which was harmless and the other poison.
Drabber took the poisoned pill, and as he died, Hope showed him Lucy's wedding ring. The excitement coupled with his aneurysm had caused his nose to bleed; he used the blood to write “RACE” on the wall above Drabber to confound the investigators.
He then had a friend pose as an old lady to pick up the supposed ring from Holmes's advertisement. He has stayed in London only to earn enough money to go back to the United States, although he admits that after twenty years of vengeance, he now has nothing to live for or care about.
After being told of this, Holmes and Watson return to Baker Street; Hope dies from his aneurysm the night before he is to appear in court, a smile on his face. One morning, Holmes reveals to Watson how he had deduced the identity of the murderer (using the one clue of the wedding ring, he had deduced the name from a telegram to the Cleveland Police regarding Drabber's marriage) and how he had used the Irregulars, whom he calls “street Arabs,” to search for a cabby by that name.
He then shows Watson the newspaper; Lestrade and Greg son are given full credit. Outraged, Watson states that Holmes should record the adventure and publish it.
As a general practice doctor in South sea, Portsmouth, he had already published short stories in several magazines of the day, such as the periodical London Society. The story was originally titled A Tangled Skein, and was eventually published by Ward Lock & Co.
The author received £25 in return for the full rights (although Conan Doyle had pressed for a royalty instead). The novel was first published as a book in July 1888 by Ward, Lock & Co., and featured drawings by the author's father, Charles Doyle.
A German edition of the novel published in 1902 was illustrated by Richard Schmidt. According to a Salt Lake City newspaper article, when Conan Doyle was asked about his depiction of the Latter-day Saints' organization as being steeped in kidnapping, murder and enslavement, he said: “all I said about the Dante Band and the murders is historical, so I cannot withdraw that, though it is likely that in a work of fiction it is stated more luridly than in a work of history.
Conan Doyle's daughter has stated: “You know, father would be the first to admit that his first SherlockHolmesnovel was full of errors about the Mormons.” Historians speculate that “Conan Doyle, a voracious reader, would have access to books by Fannie Steakhouse, William A. Hickman, William Barman, John Hyde and Ann Eliza Young, among others,” in explaining the author's early perspective on Mormonism.
Years after Conan Doyle's death, Levi Edgar Young, a descendant of Brigham Young and a Mormon general authority, claimed that Conan Doyle had privately apologized, saying that “He said he had been misled by writings of the time about the Church” and had “written a scurrilous book about the Mormons.” In August 2011, the Albemarle County, Virginia, School Board removed A Study in Scarlet from the district's sixth-grade required reading list following complaints from students and parents that the book was derogatory toward Mormons.
It was moved to the reading lists for the tenth-graders, and remains in use in the school media centers for all grades. In 1914, Conan Doyle authorized a British silent film be produced by G. B. Samuelson.
In the film, titled A Study in Scarlet, Holmes was played by James Barrington, an accountant who worked as an actor for the only time of his life. He was hired for his resemblance to Holmes, as presented in the sketches originally published with the story.
The American film starred Francis Ford as Holmes, and was not authorized by Doyle. Another British radio version of the story adapted by Hardwick aired on 25 December 1974, with Robert Powell as Sherlock Holmes and Dins dale Landon as Watson.
In both the 1968 television adaptation featuring Peter Cushing and the 1983 animated version featuring Peter O'Toole, the story is changed so that Holmes and Watson already know each other and have been living at 221B Baker Street for some time. A Study in Scarlet is one of the stories missing from the adaptations made starring Jeremy Brett between 1984 and 1994.
Steven Moat loosely adapted A Study in Scarlet into A Study in Pink as the first episode of the 2010 BBC television series Sherlock featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as a 21st-century Sherlock Holmes, and Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson. The adaptation retains many individual elements from the story, such as the scribbled “RACE” and the two pills, and the killer's potentially fatal aneurysm (however it is located in his brain rather than his aorta).
However, the entire backstory set in America is omitted, and the motivation of the killer is completely different. Also, the meeting of Holmes and Watson is adapted in the Victorian setting in the special “The Abominable Bride”.
“The Reductionist”, an episode of Elementary, contains many elements of Hope's case, including the motivation of revenge. They find out that a pupil called Jefferson Hope has taken revenge on Enoch Drabber and Joseph Sanderson for stealing his watch.
In 2010, A Study in Scarlet was adapted for the stage by William Amos Jr and Margaret Walther. In his Naked is the Best Disguise (1974), Samuel Rosenberg notes the similarity between Jefferson Hope's tracking of Enoch Drabber and a sequence in James Joyce's novel Ulysses, though of course Joyce's work did not begin to appear in print until 1918.
Several other associations between Conan Doyle and Joyce are also listed in Rosenberg's book. A Study in Scarlet, “Chapter 4: What John Race Had to Tell” ^ “bestofsherlock.com, Beeton's Christmas Annual 1887: An Annotated Checklist and Census ".
^ “Inscribed copy of Sherlock Holmes debut book for sale” Telegraph, UK. ISBN 978-0393058000 ^ a b c d Schindler, Harold (10 April 1994), “The Case Of The Repentant Writer: Sherlock Homes' Creator Raises The Wrath Of Mormons”, The Salt Lake Tribune, p. D1, Archive Article ID: 101185DCD718AD35 (Newsman) .
^ Richardson, Aaron (11 August 2011), “Albemarle removes Sherlock Holmes book from reading list”, The Daily Progress ^ Kind elan, Katie (12 August 2011), “Virginia School District Deletes Sherlock Holmes Novel From 6th Grade for 'Anti-Mormon' Portrayal”, ABC World News, ABC News ^ “34 (8.1) Recommendation of Reconsideration for the book “A Study in Scarlet” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle”. The CBS Radio Mystery Theater: An Episode Guide and Handbook to Nine Years of Broadcasting, 1974-1982 (Reprinted ed.).