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Treatment Focus: The adventure of treating an original Sherlock Holmes manuscript

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“It was in the spring of the year 1894 that all London was interested and the fashionable world dismayed by the murder of the Honourable Ronald Adair under most unusual and inexplicable circumstances.”

So begins Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original manuscript for The Adventure of the Empty House, an episode in his series The Return of Sherlock Holmes.  The 1903 manuscript, whose notebook covers were fragmented, acidic, and brittle and whose pages had minor soiling and edge discoloration, recently left the Rosenbach Museum & Library to receive treatment at CCAHA.

Doyle first featured Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in the 1888 novel A Study in Scarlet, written while Doyle, a doctor, waited for patients at his then struggling medical practice.  The detective was a hit with readers, and Doyle continued to feature Holmes in stories written for The Strand magazine.  Eventually, Doyle felt that Holmes was overshadowing his more serious writings, and in 1893, he had Holmes fall to his death in The Final Problem.  Pressure from disgruntled fans brought the detective back in 1901, when The Strand published the first episode of The Hound of the Baskervilles.  The magazine began serializing The Return of Sherlock Holmes in 1903, and several books followed in the next decade.  The Adventure of the Empty House reveals that Holmes had only faked his death in The Final Problem to hide from his many dangerous enemies.

Read more about Doyle and treatment of his original manuscript here.