A Study in Scarlet
Overview
 
A Study in Scarlet is a detective
Detective
A detective is an investigator, either a member of a police agency or a private person. The latter may be known as private investigators or "private eyes"...

 mystery
Mystery fiction
Mystery fiction is a loosely-defined term.1.It is often used as a synonym for detective fiction or crime fiction— in other words a novel or short story in which a detective investigates and solves a crime mystery. Sometimes mystery books are nonfiction...

 novel
Novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

 written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle DL was a Scottish physician and writer, most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, generally considered a milestone in the field of crime fiction, and for the adventures of Professor Challenger...

, introducing his new character of Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The fantastic London-based "consulting detective", Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to take almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve...

, who later became one of the most famous literary detective characters. He wrote the story in 1886, and it was published the next year. The book's title derives from a speech given by Holmes to his sidekick Doctor 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 colourless skein
Skein
Skein may refer to:* A flock of geese or ducks in V formation flight* A wound ball of yarn with a center pull strand, see hank* TV Series, used part of Variety's slanguage.* Skein dubh, a Scottish knife* Skein module, a mathematical concept...

 of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it."

Conan Doyle wrote the novel at the age of 27 in less than three weeks.
Encyclopedia
A Study in Scarlet is a detective
Detective
A detective is an investigator, either a member of a police agency or a private person. The latter may be known as private investigators or "private eyes"...

 mystery
Mystery fiction
Mystery fiction is a loosely-defined term.1.It is often used as a synonym for detective fiction or crime fiction— in other words a novel or short story in which a detective investigates and solves a crime mystery. Sometimes mystery books are nonfiction...

 novel
Novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

 written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle DL was a Scottish physician and writer, most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, generally considered a milestone in the field of crime fiction, and for the adventures of Professor Challenger...

, introducing his new character of Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The fantastic London-based "consulting detective", Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to take almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve...

, who later became one of the most famous literary detective characters. He wrote the story in 1886, and it was published the next year. The book's title derives from a speech given by Holmes to his sidekick Doctor 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 colourless skein
Skein
Skein may refer to:* A flock of geese or ducks in V formation flight* A wound ball of yarn with a center pull strand, see hank* TV Series, used part of Variety's slanguage.* Skein dubh, a Scottish knife* Skein module, a mathematical concept...

 of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it."

Conan Doyle wrote the novel at the age of 27 in less than three weeks. As a general practice doctor in Southsea
Southsea
Southsea is a seaside resort located in Portsmouth at the southern end of Portsea Island in the county of Hampshire in England. Southsea is within a mile of Portsmouth's city centre....

, Portsmouth
Portsmouth
Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city; it is located mainly on Portsea Island...

, he had already published short stories in several magazines of the day, such as the periodical London Society
London Society
London Society was a Victorian era illustrated monthly periodical, subtitled "an illustrated magazine of light and amusing literature for the hours of relaxation". It was published between 1862 and 1898 by W. Clowes and Sons, London. The magazine published miscellaneous articles, short fiction ,...

. The story was originally titled A Tangled Skein, and was eventually published by Ward Lock & Co
Ward Lock & Co
Ward Lock & Co was a publishing house in the United Kingdom that started as a partnership and developed until it was eventually absorbed into the publishing combine of Orion Publishing Group.-History:...

. in Beeton's Christmas Annual
Beeton's Christmas Annual
Beeton's Christmas Annual was a paperback magazine printed in England yearly between 1860 and 1898, founded by Samuel Orchart Beeton. The November 1887 issue contained a novel by Arthur Conan Doyle entitled A Study in Scarlet which introduced the characters Sherlock Holmes and his friend Watson.-...

 1887
, after many rejections. The author received £25 in return for the full rights (although Conan Doyle had pressed for a royalty instead). It was illustrated by D. H. Friston
David Henry Friston
David Henry Friston was a British illustrator and figure painter in the Victorian Era. He is best remembered as the creator of the first illustrations of Sherlock Holmes in 1887, as well as his illustrations of the controversial female vampire story Carmilla...

. The novel was first published as a book on July 1888 by Ward, Lock & Co., and featured drawings by the author's father, Charles Doyle. A second edition appeared the following year and was illustrated by George Hutchinson
George Hutchinson
George Henry Hutchinson was a professional footballer who played for Huddersfield Town, Sheffield United, Tottenham Hotspur, Guildford City, Leeds United, Halifax Town & Skegness Town. He served in the RAF during National Service and was stationed at Ballykelly in Northern Ireland & RAF Cosford...

; a year later in 1890, J. B. Lippincott & Co. released the first American version. Numerous further editions, translations and dramatisations have appeared since.

The story, and its main character, attracted little public interest when it first appeared. Only 11 complete copies of Beeton's Christmas Annual 1887 are known to exist now and they have considerable value. Although Conan Doyle wrote 56 short stories
Short story
A short story is a work of fiction that is usually written in prose, often in narrative format. This format tends to be more pointed than longer works of fiction, such as novellas and novels. Short story definitions based on length differ somewhat, even among professional writers, in part because...

 featuring Holmes, A Study in Scarlet is one of only four full-length novels in the original canon. The novel was followed by The Sign of Four, published in 1890. A Study in Scarlet was the first work of fiction to incorporate the magnifying glass
Magnifying glass
A magnifying glass is a convex lens that is used to produce a magnified image of an object. The lens is usually mounted in a frame with a handle ....

 as an investigative tool.

Plot summary

Part I: "Being a Reprint from the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, MD, Late of the Army Medical Department"

The story begins in 1881, where Dr. John Watson runs into an old friend, Stamford. Due to a shoulder injury sustained in the Anglo-Afghan War
Second Anglo-Afghan War
The Second Anglo-Afghan War was fought between the United Kingdom and Afghanistan from 1878 to 1880, when the nation was ruled by Sher Ali Khan of the Barakzai dynasty, the son of former Emir Dost Mohammad Khan. This was the second time British India invaded Afghanistan. The war ended in a manner...

, Watson was forced to retire and is now looking for a place to live. Stamford reveals that an acquaintance of his, Sherlock Holmes, is looking for someone to split the rent at a flat at 221B, Baker Street
221B Baker Street
221B Baker Street is the London address of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, created by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In the United Kingdom, postal addresses with a number followed by a letter may indicate a separate address within a larger, often residential building...

.

Stamford takes Watson to the local hospital's lab, where Holmes experiments with a reagent for haemoglobin detection. Watson reveals that he is willing to split the rooms at 221B and he and Holmes list all of their faults to make sure that they accept living with each other. After seeing the rooms, the two move in.

Watson is amazed by Holmes, who has profound knowledge of chemistry and sensational literature, very precise but narrow knowledge of geology and botany; yet knows little about literature, astronomy, philosophy, and politics. Holmes also has multiple guests visiting him at different intervals during the day; he reveals to Watson that he is a consulting detective, and that his guests are clients. One of these guests turns out to be a retired Marine
Royal Marines
The Corps of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, commonly just referred to as the Royal Marines , are the marine corps and amphibious infantry of the United Kingdom and, along with the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, form the Naval Service...

 sergeant
Sergeant
Sergeant is a rank used in some form by most militaries, police forces, and other uniformed organizations around the world. Its origins are the Latin serviens, "one who serves", through the French term Sergent....

 delivering a message from Scotland Yard about a recent murder. Holmes invites Watson to accompany him as he investigates the crime scene
Crime scene
A crime scene is a location where an illegal act took place, and comprises the area from which most of the physical evidence is retrieved by trained law enforcement personnel, crime scene investigators or in rare circumstances, forensic scientists....

.

Holmes observes the sidewalk and garden leading up to the house, before he and Watson meet Inspectors Gregson and Lestrade. The four observe the crime scene and the male corpse, who is identified as Enoch Drebber. There is blood found in the room but there is no wound on the body. They also learn from documents found on his person that he was in London with a friend, Joseph Stangerson. Above his body, written in blood, is the word "RACHE", which Holmes remarks is German for revenge. He goes on to deduce that the victim died from poison, and describes what he believes the murderer looks like; six feet tall, with small feet for his height, a florid complexion, square toed boots, and smoking a Trichinopoly cigar. His fingernails on his right hand are long and he came in a cab, whose horse had three old shoes and one new one. Holmes listens to a constable's story about a drunk man loitering by the scene of the crime and informs him that the “drunk” was really the murderer revisiting the scene to collect a ring that Holmes found on the body.

Holmes puts a notice in the paper about the ring, expecting 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 lady who claims that the ring belongs to her daughter. Holmes follows her and, upon returning, reveals to Watson that the old lady had taken a cab, he hopped onto the back of it, and upon their arrival, the lady was nowhere to be seen; she had escaped from it, leading Holmes to believe that it was the murderer's accomplice.

The next day, Gregson visits Holmes and Watson, and tells them that he has captured the “murderer”. He had gone to Madame Charpentier's Boarding House, where Drebber and Stangerson had stayed before the Drebber's murder. He learned from her that Drebber, a drunk, had attempted to kiss Madame's daughter, Alice. She, in turn, evicted the two. Drebber, however, came back later that night and attempted to grab Alice, prompting her older brother to attack him. He attempted to chase Drebber but supposedly lost him. Gregson then went to apprehend the brother.

Lestrade then arrives, revealing that Stangerson is dead. He had gone to visit Stangerson after learning at what hotel he was staying. His body was found dead near the window, stabbed through the heart. Above his body was again written “RACHE”. The only things Stangerson had with him were a novel, a pipe, and a small box containing two pills, which Lestrade has on his person. Holmes tests the pills on a old and sickly Scottish terrier
Scottish Terrier
The Scottish Terrier , popularly called the Scottie, is a breed of dog. Initially one of the highland breeds of Terrier that were grouped under the name of Skye Terrier, it is one of five breeds of terrier that originated in Scotland, the other four being the modern Skye, Cairn, Dandie Dinmont, and...

, killing it. He deduces that one was poison and the other harmless.

Just at that moment, Wiggins, a young beggar and the leader of the “Baker Street Irregulars”, a group of similar homeless beggars Holmes employs to help him occasionally, arrives, stating that he has gotten him a cab. Holmes sends him down to fetch the cabby, claiming to need help with his suitcase, but handcuffs and restrains the cabby, revealing him to be Jefferson Hope, the murderer of Drebber and Stangerson.

Part II: "The Country of Saints"

The story flashes back to 1847 Utah, where John Ferrier and a little girl named Lucy, the only survivors of a large party of pioneers, lie down near a boulder to die from dehydration and hunger. They are discovered, however, by a large party of Mormons
Mormons
The Mormons are a religious and cultural group related to Mormonism, a religion started by Joseph Smith during the American Second Great Awakening. A vast majority of Mormons are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while a minority are members of other independent churches....

, led by Brigham Young and the sacred Council of Four, to the "promised land". They rescue them on the condition that they adopt and live under the Mormon faith.

Having proven himself to be an able hunter, Ferrier is given a generous land grant with which to build his farm after the party constructs Salt Lake City. He and Lucy, now adopted by him, become famous around the city and surrounding areas. Years later, a now-grown Lucy runs into a man named Jefferson Hope, and becomes friends with him. They soon become engaged to be married, scheduled after Hope's return from a three-month long journey for his job.

However, Ferrier is visited by Young, who reveals that it is against the religion for Lucy to marry Hope, a non-Mormon. He states that Lucy must marry one of the eligible sons belonging to the Council of Four, either Joseph Stangerson or Enoch Drebber, though Lucy may choose which one. Ferrier and his daughter are given a month to decide. Ferrier, who has long before that sworn to never marry his daughter to a Mormon, immediately sends out word to Hope for help. Ferrier is then visited by Stangerson and Drebber. Angered by the way that they argue over who deserves to marry Lucy, Ferrier throws them out.

Every day, however, the number of days Ferrier has left to marry off Lucy is painted somewhere on his farm in the middle of the night. Hope finally arrives on the eve of the last day and sneaks his love and her adoptive father out of their farm and Salt Lake City. However, while he is gone hunting for food, Hope returns to a horrific sight; a makeshift grave for the elder Ferrier and Lucy nowhere to be seen.

Back to the Watson narrative, Holmes, Watson, and the two Scotland Yarders take a willing Hope to the police station. He asks if he can tell his story as he has an aortic aneurysm and fears he will die before his trial. He reveals that he sneaked back into the city and learned from an acquaintance that Lucy had been forcibly married to Drebber, who had more supporters in a hearing between him and Stangerson, Ferrier's murderer, over who would marry her. They also had put out a warrant for Hope's capture. He had returned to the mountains, swearing vengeance.

Lucy died a month later from a broken heart; Drebber, inheriting Ferrier's farm, was unaffected. Hope sneaked into his house the night before Lucy's funeral to kiss her and remove her wedding ring. He then began stalking the town, coming close to killing Drebber and Stangerson on numerous occasions.

However, his health began to fail him and he left the mountains to earn money and recuperate. He returned about a year later, and learned that Drebber and Stangerson, out of fear for their lives, had left Salt Lake City. He searched the United States until he finally found them in Cleveland; the pair then fled to Europe, eventually landing in London.

In London, Hope became a cabby, and eventually found Drebber and Stangerson at the train station in Euston, about to depart to Liverpool. Having missed the first train, Drebber instructs Stangerson to wait for him at the hotel, and then returns to Madame Charpentier's house. He is attacked by her son, and after escaping, he gets drunk at a liquor store. He is picked up by Hope, and is led to the house on Brixton Road, which Drebber drunkenly enters with Hope. He then forces Drebber to remember who he is and to take a pill out of a small box, allowing God to choose which one dies, for one was harmless and the other poison. Drebber takes the poisoned pill, and as he dies, Hope shows him Lucy's wedding ring. The excitement coupled with his aneurysm had caused his nose to bleed; he used it to write “RACHE” on the wall above Drebber.

He realized, upon returning to his cab, that he had forgotten Lucy’s ring; but upon returning to the house, he found Constable Rance and other police officers, whom he evaded by acting drunk. He then had a friend pose as an old lady to pick up the supposed ring from Holmes's advertisement.

He then began stalking Stangerson's room at the hotel; but Stangerson, on learning of Drebber's murder, refused to come out. He climbed into the room through the window, and gave Stangerson the same choice of pills but he was attacked by Stangerson and forced to stab him in the heart.

After being told of this, Holmes and Watson return to Baker Street; Hope dies from his aneurysm the night before his trial, a smile on his face. One morning, Holmes reveals to Watson how he had deduced the identity of the murderer 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 Gregson are given full credit. Outraged, Watson states that Holmes should record the adventure and publish it. Upon Holmes's refusal, Watson decides to do it himself.

Controversy

According to a 1994 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 Danite
Danite
The Danites were a fraternal organization founded by Latter Day Saint members in June 1838, in the town of Far West in Caldwell County, Missouri. During their period of organization in Missouri, the Danites operated as a vigilante group and took a central role in the events of the 1838 Mormon War...

 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. It's best to let the matter rest". However, Conan Doyle's daughter has stated: "You know, father would be the first to admit that his first Sherlock Holmes novel was full of errors about the Mormons". 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 [Conan Doyle] said he had been misled by writings of the time about the Church".

In August 2011, the Albemarle County, Virginia
Albemarle County, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 79,236 people, 31,876 households, and 21,070 families residing in the county. The population density was 110 people per square mile . There were 33,720 housing units at an average density of 47 per square mile...

 School Board removed A Study in Scarlet from the district's sixth-grade reading lists following complaints from students and parents that the book was derogatory toward Mormons. It was therefore moved to the reading lists for the tenth-graders, and remains in use in the school media centers for all grades.

Allusions in other works

In his Naked is the Best Disguise
Naked is the Best Disguise
Naked is the Best Disguise: The Death and Resurrection of Sherlock Holmes is a book by Samuel Rosenberg speculating on the alleged hidden meanings in the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and examining the influence of his writings on other works, especially James Joyce's Ulysses...

(1974), Samuel Rosenberg
Samuel Rosenberg
Samuel Rosenberg was best known for his 1974 study of Sherlock Holmes titled Naked is the Best Disguise . His other notable book was The Confessions of a Trivialist .He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, as the son of Jacob S...

 notes the similarity between Jefferson Hope's tracking of Enoch Drebber and a sequence in James Joyce
James Joyce
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century...

's novel Ulysses
Ulysses (novel)
Ulysses is a novel by the Irish author James Joyce. It was first serialised in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920, and then published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach on 2 February 1922, in Paris. One of the most important works of Modernist literature,...

. Several other associations between Conan Doyle and Joyce are also listed in Rosenberg's book.

The British fantasy and comic book writer Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman
Neil Richard Gaiman born 10 November 1960)is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book...

 adapted this story to the universe of horror writer H. P. Lovecraft
H. P. Lovecraft
Howard Phillips Lovecraft --often credited as H.P. Lovecraft — was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction....

's Cthulhu Mythos
Cthulhu Mythos
The Cthulhu Mythos is a shared fictional universe, based on the work of American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft.The term was first coined by August Derleth, a contemporary correspondent of Lovecraft, who used the name of the creature Cthulhu - a central figure in Lovecraft literature and the focus...

. The new short story is titled "A Study in Emerald
A Study in Emerald
"A Study in Emerald" is a short story written by British fantasy and graphic novel author Neil Gaiman. The story is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche transferred to the Cthulhu Mythos universe of horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. It won the 2004 Hugo Award for Best Short Story. The title is a reference to...

" (2004) and is modelled with a parallel structure.

A version of the poison selection challenge is used in William Goldman
William Goldman
William Goldman is an American novelist, playwright, and Academy Award-winning screenwriter.-Early life and education:...

's 1973 novel The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride is a 1973 fantasy novel written by William Goldman. It was originally published in the United States by Harcourt Brace, while in the UK it is/was published by Bloomsbury Publishing....

(and in the subsequent popular film adaptation
The Princess Bride (film)
The Princess Bride is a 1987 American film based on the 1973 novel of the same name by William Goldman, combining comedy, adventure, romance, and fantasy. The film was directed by Rob Reiner from a screenplay by Goldman...

). The mysterious man in black chases down the Sicilian criminal genius Vizzini and engages him in a game of wits involving 2 cups of wine and a quantity of deadly "iocaine powder" (a fictional toxin). Vizzini chooses a cup, they both drink, and Vizzini dies. It is revealed that actually both cups contained Iocaine, but the man in black had cultivated an immunity to the chemical.

The House of Silk
The House of Silk
The House of Silk is a Sherlock Holmes novel written by author Anthony Horowitz, published on November 1, 2011 in the United States and Europe...

is a Sherlock Holmes novel written by author Anthony Horowitz
Anthony Horowitz
Anthony Craig Horowitz is an English novelist and screenwriter. He has written many children's novels, including The Power of Five, Alex Rider and The Diamond Brothers series and has written over fifty books. He has also written extensively for television, adapting many of Agatha Christie's...

which starts a bit like A Study in Scarlet.

Adaptations

As the first Sherlock Holmes story published, it was fittingly the first one to be adapted to the screen. In 1914, Conan Doyle authorized a silent film
A Study in Scarlet (1914 film)
A Study in Scarlet is a 1914 silent drama film directed by George Pearson and starring James Bragington. It is based on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel of the same name. It was the first film to feature Sherlock Holmes onscreen and is now considered to be lost.A film of the same name was released...

 be produced by G. B. Samuelson
G. B. Samuelson
George Berthold Samuelson was one of the pioneers of British cinema.Born in Southport, England, Samuelson had an extensive film career and was the creator of Southall Studios, one of the earliest film production companies in the United Kingdom.He was the father of Sir Sydney Samuelson.-Selected...

. Holmes was played by James Bragington, an accountant who had never before (and never after) worked as an actor. He was hired for his resemblance to Holmes as presented in the sketches originally published with the story. Unfortunately, as early silent films were made with film which itself was made with poor materials and film archiving was rare, this is now a lost film
Lost film
A lost film is a feature film or short film that is no longer known to exist in studio archives, private collections or public archives such as the Library of Congress, where at least one copy of all American films are deposited and catalogued for copyright reasons...

. The success of this film allowed for a second version to be produced that same year by Francis Ford
Francis Ford (actor)
Francis Ford was a prolific film actor, writer, and director. He was the older brother of film director John Ford. He also appeared in many of John Ford's movies, including Young Mr. Lincoln and The Quiet Man.He starred in the 1912 two-reeler The Deserter by Thomas H. Ince and acted in over 400...

, which has also been lost.

The 1933 film entitled A Study in Scarlet
A Study in Scarlet (1933 film)
A Study in Scarlet is a drama film directed by Edwin L. Marin and starring Reginald Owen as Sherlock Holmes and Anna May Wong as Mrs. Pyke. The title comes from Arthur Conan Doyle's novel of the same name, the first in the Holmes series, but the screenplay by Robert Florey was original.Despite her...

, starring Reginald Owen
Reginald Owen
John Reginald Owen was a British character actor. He was known for his many roles in British and American movies and later in television programs.-Personal:...

 as Sherlock Holmes and Anna May Wong
Anna May Wong
Anna May Wong was an American actress, the first Chinese American movie star, and the first Asian American to become an international star...

 as Mrs Pyke, bears no plot relation to the novel, the producers having only purchased rights to the title, not the story. Aside from Holmes, Watson, Mrs. Hudson, and Inspector Lestrade, the only connections to the Holmes canon are a few lifts of character names (Jabez Wilson, etc.). The plot contains an element of striking resemblance to one used several years later in Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie
Dame Agatha Christie DBE was a British crime writer of novels, short stories, and plays. She also wrote romances under the name Mary Westmacott, but she is best remembered for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections , and her successful West End plays.According to...

's novel And Then There Were None
And Then There Were None
And Then There Were None is a detective fiction novel by Agatha Christie, first published in the United Kingdom by the Collins Crime Club on 6 November 1939 under the title Ten Little Niggers which was changed by Dodd, Mead and Company in January 1940 because of the presence of a racial...

, that of murder victims being counted off by lines from the same nursery rhyme (though the Holmes film takes the precaution of using the phrase "ten little black boys").

The book has rarely been adapted in full, notable instances being: an episode broadcast on Sept. 23rd, 1968 in the second season of the BBC television series Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes (1965 TV series)
Sherlock Holmes was a series of Sherlock Holmes adaptations produced by British television company BBC between 1965 and 1968.-Production:...

, with Peter Cushing
Peter Cushing
Peter Wilton Cushing, OBE was an English actor, known for his many appearances in Hammer Films, in which he played the handsome but sinister scientist Baron Frankenstein and the vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing, amongst many other roles, often appearing opposite Christopher Lee, and occasionally...

 in the lead role and Nigel Stock as Dr. Watson, which put more detail into the story, including the actor who claims the ring; the first episode of the 1979 Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 TV adaptation, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson; combines the story with The Adventure of the Speckled Band. The second episode adapts the rest of the novel. an 1983 animated version produced by Burbank Films Australia, with Peter O'Toole
Peter O'Toole
Peter Seamus Lorcan O'Toole is an Irish actor of stage and screen. O'Toole achieved stardom in 1962 playing T. E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia, and then went on to become a highly-honoured film and stage actor. He has been nominated for eight Academy Awards, and holds the record for most...

 voicing Holmes; the first episode of the BBC's complete Sherlock Holmes on Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

, starring Clive Merrison
Clive Merrison
Clive Merrison is a Welsh actor of film, television, stage and radio. He trained at Rose Bruford College.- Television :...

 as Holmes and Michael Williams as Watson; and a 2007 episode of the American radio series The Classic Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The fantastic London-based "consulting detective", Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to take almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve...

.

Other adaptations use only the portions of the first section of the book in which Holmes and Watson's relationship is established. The Ronald Howard
Ronald Howard (British actor)
Ronald Howard was an English actor and writer best known in the U.S. for starring in a weekly Sherlock Holmes television series in 1954. He was the son of actor Leslie Howard.- Life and work :...

/H. Marion Crawford
Howard Marion-Crawford
Howard Marion-Crawford , the grandson of writer F. Marion Crawford, was an English character actor, best known for his portrayal of Dr. Watson in the 1954 television adaptation of Sherlock Holmes...

 television series used that section of the book as the basis for the episode "The Case of the Cunningham Heritage". The John Gielgud
John Gielgud
Sir Arthur John Gielgud, OM, CH was an English actor, director, and producer. A descendant of the renowned Terry acting family, he achieved early international acclaim for his youthful, emotionally expressive Hamlet which broke box office records on Broadway in 1937...

/Ralph Richardson
Ralph Richardson
Sir Ralph David Richardson was an English actor, one of a group of theatrical knights of the mid-20th century who, though more closely associated with the stage, also appeared in several classic films....

 radio series combined it with details from "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton
The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton
"The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton" is one of the 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories written by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is one of 13 stories in the cycle collected as The Return of Sherlock Holmes and was published in 1904....

" to create its "origin story
Origin story
In comic book terminology, an origin story is an account or back-story revealing how a character or team gained their superpowers and/or the circumstances under which they became superheroes or supervillains....

".

Steven Moffat
Steven Moffat
Steven Moffat is a Scottish television writer and producer.Moffat's first television work was the teen drama series Press Gang. His first sitcom, Joking Apart, was inspired by the breakdown of his first marriage; conversely, his later sitcom Coupling was based upon the development of his...

 loosely adapted A Study in Scarlet into "A Study in Pink
A Study in Pink
"A Study in Pink" is the first episode of the television series Sherlock and first broadcast on BBC One and BBC HD on 25 July 2010. It introduces the main characters and resolves a murder mystery. It is loosely based upon the first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet.The episode was written...

" as the first episode of the 2010 BBC television series Sherlock featuring Benedict Cumberbatch
Benedict Cumberbatch
Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch is an English film, television, and theatre actor. His most acclaimed roles include Stephen Hawking in the BBC drama Hawking ; William Pitt in the historical film Amazing Grace ; the protagonist Stephen Ezard in the miniseries thriller The Last Enemy ; Paul...

 as a 21st century Sherlock Holmes, and Martin Freeman
Martin Freeman
Martin John C. Freeman is an English actor. He is known for his roles as John in Love Actually, Tim Canterbury in the BBC's Golden Globe-winning comedy The Office, Arthur Dent in the film adaptation of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Dr. John Watson in Sherlock and Mr. Madden...

 as Dr. Watson. The adaptation retains many individual elements from the story, such as the scribbled "RACHE" and the two pills, and the killer's potentially fatal aneurysm
Aneurysm
An aneurysm or aneurism is a localized, blood-filled balloon-like bulge in the wall of a blood vessel. Aneurysms can commonly occur in arteries at the base of the brain and an aortic aneurysm occurs in the main artery carrying blood from the left ventricle of the heart...

 (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. It also features Moriarty
Professor Moriarty
Professor James Moriarty is a fictional character and the archenemy of the detective Sherlock Holmes in the fiction of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Moriarty is a criminal mastermind, described by Holmes as the "Napoleon of Crime". Doyle lifted the phrase from a real Scotland Yard inspector who was...

's presence.

In 2010, A Study in Scarlet was adapted for the stage by William Amos Jr and Margaret Walther.

A Study in Scarlet was illustrated by Seymour Moskowitz for Classics Illustrated
Classics Illustrated
Classics Illustrated is a comic book series featuring adaptations of literary classics such as Moby Dick, Hamlet, and The Iliad. Created by Albert Kanter, the series began publication in 1941 and finished its first run in 1971, producing 169 issues. Following the series' demise, various companies...

 comics in 1953. It was also adapted to graphic novel form by Innovation Publishing
Innovation Publishing
Innovation Publishing was an American comic book company based in Wheeling, West Virginia. It was co-founded by David Campiti in 1988 after writing a business proposal and raising US$400,000 to finance its launch...

 in 1989 (adapted by James Stenstrum and illustrated by Noly Panaligan) and by Sterling Publishing
Sterling Publishing
Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. is a publisher of nonfiction titles, with more than 5,000 books in print. Founded in 1949, it publishes a wide range of nonfiction and illustrated titles in categories which include art, biography/autobiography, body/mind/spirit, crafts, culinary, do-it-yourself,...

 in 2010 (adapted by Ian Edginton
Ian Edginton
Ian Edginton is a British comic book writer.He is one of the few British comic talents to follow the reverse trajectory to the one usually taken: becoming successful in American comics before returning to work for 2000 AD.-Biography:...

and illustrated by I.N.J. Culbard).

External links

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