In 1887, Beaton's Christmas Annual featured a story called A Study in Scarlet by a then-unknown doctor turned author named Arthur Conan Doyle. The story would introduce what would become one of the most beloved and iconic characters in history: one Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
Conan Doyle would go on to write a total of sixty Sherlock Holmes stories; four novels and fifty-six short stories. Most of these stories were published in The Strand magazine and, at the time of their publication, enjoyed great success in both England and the United States.
When Conan Doyle attempted to kill off the Great Detective in 1893's "The Adventure of the Final Problem", many citizens of London were so grieved by the loss that they wore black armbands of mourning. After years of public pressure, Doyle resurrected Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles, which is widely regarded as one of the best mystery novels of all-time.
After what was a mind-numbing section on poetry (Whitman, Longfellow, and Tennyson were, eventually, acquired tastes), the class moved on to short stories. One of the first assignments was to read a story entitled "The Red-Headed League". I read it one sitting, despite the fact that it was a multi-day assignment, and immediately sought out more Doyle stories. I read anything I could get my hands on, and by the end of 1996 I'd read the entire Sherlock Holmes canon and several of Doyle's non-Holmes short story collections. In short, I was in love.
The Holmes stories opened a brand new world to me. I devoured mystery novels, especially those set in Victorian London. I was delighted to discover the rich world of Holmes pastiches (Sherlock Holmes stories written by authors other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) which continues to introduce me to extraordinary writers.
Fourteen years later, my love for Doyle's work is as strong as ever. I've read the Sherlock Holmes stories countless times over the years, and I still find them as interesting and entertaining as I did when I experienced them for the very first time.
If you're a longtime reader of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or if you've yet to discover his work for yourself, I sincerely hope that you'll enjoy the events this month as I honor one of my favorite authors and his legacy.