Happy Birthday, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!
Doyle, a Scottish physician and writer, is best remembered as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, one of crime fiction’s most beloved characters.
Holmes—and his intrepid sidekick, John H. Watson—first appeared in A Study in Scarlet, published in the 1886 Beeton’s Christmas Annual. Holmes was partially modeled after Joseph Bell, Doyle’s former university professor. Doyle wrote to Bell, “It is most certainly to you that I owe Sherlock Holmes… [R]ound the centre of deduction and inference and observation which I have heard you inculcate I have tried to build up a man.”
Holmes was tremendously popular with audiences, but, in December of 1893, after publishing twenty-some short stories, Doyle resolved to concentrate on what he saw as his more important work—his historical novels. He had Holmes plunge to his (ostensible) death in “The Final Problem.”
Public outcry demanded that Doyle revive his much loved sleuth. He did so in 1901’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, first published in Strand Magazine. The publicity poster above, illustrated by cartoonist Albert Morrow, announced Holmes’s long awaited return. In shades of orange and gray, it features Holmes on the moor, confronting a savage mastiff.
The Hound of the Baskervilles is set before the “The Final Problem”—that is, before Holmes’s purported demise. He was not officially revived until 1903’s “The Adventure of the Empty House,” in which Doyle describes Holmes’s miraculous survival (spoiler: he faked his death).