Front cover of the 1887 issue of Beeton's Christmas Annual in which A Study in Scarlet was first published.

A Study in Scarlet is a mystery novel by the British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is the first of four novels which Doyle wrote that feature the characters of the brilliant consulting detective Sherlock Holmes and his friend and chronicler Dr. Watson. It is the first of sixty stories which make up the Sherlock Holmes Canon.

The entire novel, with accompanying illustrations by David Henry Friston, was first published in November 1887 as part of Beeton's Christmas Annual, a magazine which came out once a year each year between 1860 and 1898. Only thirty-three copies of the 1887 issue of Beeton's Christmas Annual are known to still exist and only eleven of those are complete. A copy of the magazine, which was originally priced at one shilling, was sold at auction in 2007 for US$156,000.

A Study in Scarlet was first published in book form in July 1888 with illustrations by Charles Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's father. A second edition, with illustrations by George Hutcinson, was published in 1889.

Neither A Study in Scarlet nor its 1890 sequel The Sign of the Four aroused much public interest when they were first published. It was only after Doyle's short stories about the detective began appearing in The Strand magazine, starting with "A Scandal in Bohemia" in June 1891, that Sherlock Holmes became a household name.

A Study in Scarlet is divided into two parts. The first part is subtitled "Being a Reprint from the Reminiscences of John H. Watson M.D., late of the Indian Army Medical Department". It describes how Dr. Watson first meets and comes to share an apartment with Sherlock Holmes and Watson's initial impressions of his housemate. Watson soon realizes that Holmes is extremely intelligent and knowledgeable, although he is shocked by some of the things that Holmes does not know. For some time, Watson does not know what Holmes does for a living. Holmes eventually reveals that he is a consulting detective. People come to him with problems that other private detectives and the police have been unable to solve. The police themselves often come to Holmes to ask for assistance. Watson accompanies Holmes when Inspector Gregson of Scotland Yard asks for help. The body of a dead man has been found in an empty house. It is soon established that the dead man was an American named Enoch J. Drebber. There are no signs of violence to his body. The German word for "revenge" is written in blood on one of the walls of the room where Drebber's body is found. Another American named Joseph Stangerson is found dead in similar circumstances soon afterwards. Holmes soon discovers the murderer's identity, while Gregson and Lestrade, another Scotland Yard detective, are following false leads. The second part of the novel, which is subtitled "The Country of the Saints", describes events which began in the American West some forty years earlier that eventually brought about the murders in London. The first part of the novel is entirely narrated by Dr. Watson. The second part is mostly written from the point of view of an all-knowing third person narrator, although Watson returns as the narrator for the final two chapters.

Some readers are likely to find the manner in which the Latter Day Saint movement and Brigham Young are depicted in the novel to be offensive.

There have been numerous adaptations of A Study in Scarlet to other media.


Part 1

The wounded Watson is carried away from the battlefield. Circa 1900 illustration by Richard Gutschmidt.

John H. Watson studies medicine at the University of London and qualifies as a doctor in 1878. He becomes Assistant Surgeon to a British Army regiment shortly before the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Afghan War. He is shot in the shoulder during a battle and sent to a hospital in India to recover. While in the Indian hospital, he catches typhoid fever. When he eventually recovers, he is invalided out of the Army and sent back to England immediately. He is not expected to work for the next nine months and is given a daily allowance of eleven shillings and six pence by the government. Watson goes to London and stays at a hotel for some time. He realizes that he cannot afford to continue staying there and that he needs to find cheaper accommodation.

One day, Watson happens to meet an old acquaintance of his from medical school named Stamford. Watson mentions to Stamford that he is looking for an inexpensive place to rent. Stamford tells him that Sherlock Holmes, someone who has been doing research at the hospital's chemical laboratory, is looking for someone to share an apartment with him. Stamford warns Watson that Sherlock Holmes is a bit odd. Stamford knows that Holmes is not a medical student but does not know why he is carrying out research at the laboratory. Apart from the fact that he is very intelligent, Stamford does not know much about Holmes because he is usually not very talkative, although there are times when the reverse is true. Watson wants to meet Holmes. He and Stamford go to the hospital together. Before entering the hospital, Stamford again warns Watson that Holmes is a bit odd. He says that he once saw Holmes beating corpses in the dissecting room with a stick in order to see how long after death bruises could be produced.

Stamford and Watson find Sherlock Holmes in a state of great excitement. He announces that he has created a chemical compound which reacts only to blood and to nothing else. He says that many people who were accused of murder could not be convicted because it could not be conclusively proven that old stains on their clothes were bloodstains. Holmes adds that, if his discovery had been made earlier, many murderers who are currently free would have been executed. Observing Watson, Holmes says, "You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive." When Watson asks how he knows that, Holmes laughs and says, "Never mind."

Holmes is happy to share an apartment with Watson. He says that he has found some rooms in Baker Street which he thinks will suit both of them. He warns Watson that he smokes, often does experiments with chemicals, is sometimes gloomy and does not talk for several days and that he plays the violin. None of this bothers Watson.

On leaving the laboratory, Watson asks Stamford how Holmes knew that he had been in Afghanistan. Stamford says, "That's just his little peculiarity', and, "A good many people have wanted to know how he finds things out."

Both Watson and Holmes are impressed by the apartment at 221B Baker Street, which has two bedrooms and a shared living room. They both move into it soon afterwards. Watson does not find it difficult to live with Holmes. Sherlock Holmes usually gets up early, long before Watson, and goes to bed early too. Holmes often spends a lot of the day out walking. Sometimes, however, he spends several days lying on the sofa, barely speaking or moving. During those times, Watson suspects that Holmes might be on drugs. Holmes confirms that he is not a medical student but does not tell Watson what he does for a living. Holmes appears to be reluctant to talk about himself and Watson does not push him. Holmes is very intelligent but Watson discovers that there are large gaps in his knowledge. Watson makes a list of what Holmes does and does not know, which runs as follows,

Sherlock Holmes. Circa 1900 illustration by Richard Gutschmidt.

  1. Knowledge of Literature - Nil
  2. Knowledge of Philosophy - Nil
  3. Knowledge of Astronomy - Nil
  4. Knowledge of Politics - Feeble
  5. Knowledge of Botany - Variable. Well up in belladonna, opium and poisons generally. Knows nothing of practical gardening.
  6. Knowledge of Geology - Practical but limited. Tells at a glance different soils from each other. After walks has shown me splashes upon his trousers and told me by their color and consistence in what part of London he had received them.
  7. Knowledge of Chemistry - Profound
  8. Knowledge of Anatomy - Accurate but unsystematic
  9. Knowledge of Sensational Literature - Immense. He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century.
  10. Plays the violin well.
  11. Is an expert singlestick player, boxer and swordsman.
  12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law.

Watson is very surprised to find out that Holmes did not know that the Earth revolved around the sun. Holmes tells Watson that, having learned that fact, he will now try to forget it. He says that the human brain can hold only so much information and that remembering useless information might cause him to forget something useful. Holmes says that whether or not the Earth revolves around the sun makes no difference to him or to his job. Watson is curious about what Holmes' job is but does not take the opportunity to ask about it.

After Watson and Holmes have been in their apartment for a week, visitors for Holmes start to arrive. A frequent visitor is introduced to Watson as Mr. Lestrade. The other visitors include men and women of all ages and all social classes. When visitors come, Sherlock Holmes asks Watson to leave the living room. Holmes says that the visitors are his clients and that he needs to use the living room for business.

One morning, Watson gets up earlier than usual and joins Sherlock Holmes for breakfast. He picks up a magazine and reads an article next to which Holmes has put a pencil mark. The article claims that a trained observer can instantly deduce someone's occupation and life history at a glance. Watson thinks this is nonsense and says so. Holmes says that he wrote the article and that it is perfectly true. He adds that he relies on his skills of observation and deduction, as well as his extensive knowledge of the history of crime, in order to earn a living. Holmes tells Watson that he is a consulting detective. People who have been let down by the police and other private detectives come to Holmes with their problems and he is usually able to solve them without leaving the living room. Holmes goes on to complain that that there are currently no crimes to investigate.

To demonstrate how he makes deductions based on observation, Holmes tells Watson how he knew that he had been in Afghanistan. Watson appeared to Holmes to have the look of both a doctor and a soldier and had clearly been an army surgeon. His suntanned face suggested that he had been in the tropics. His thin face showed that he had suffered illness and hardships. The way that Watson held his stiff arm showed that he had been injured. The logical deduction for Holmes was that Watson had been in the war in Afghanistan. Watson is impressed. He says that Holmes reminds him of the character Dupin from the short story "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" by Edgar Allan Poe. Holmes knows that Watson intends the remark as a compliment but he is not flattered by it. He does not have a high opinion of Dupin as a detective and does not think that he is as remarkable as Poe appeared to think he was.

From the window, Watson notices a man carrying a large blue envelope who seems to be looking for a certain house. Holmes says that the man is a retired Marines sergeant. The man finds 221B Baker Street, comes up to the apartment and gives the envelope to Holmes. Hoping to prove Holmes wrong, Watson asks the man what his job is. He replies that he is a doorman. He then adds that he used to be a sergeant in the Royal Marines. After the man has gone, Watson asks Holmes how he knew. Holmes says that, even from the other side of the street, a large tattoo of an anchor was visible on the back of the man's hand. His sideburns, however, made him look more like a soldier than a sailor, suggesting that he had been in the Marines. Furthermore, the air of confidence and self-importance with which the man carried himself suggested that he had been an officer.

Holmes says that he was wrong earlier to complain of there being no crime. The blue envelope contains a letter which informs Holmes of the discovery of a dead body. At two o'clock in the morning, a police officer saw a light on in an empty house, 3 Lauriston Gardens off the Brixton Road. He entered the house and found the corpse of a well-dressed man in the house's bare living room. Cards in the dead man's pockets bore the name of Enoch J. Drebber of Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A. The dead man had not been robbed and there was no indication of how he died. There were no wounds on the body, although some bloodstains were found in the room. Holmes is asked to come to 3 Lauriston Gardens to offer some help. The letter is signed Tobias Gregson. Holmes explains that both Gregson and Lestrade are detectives from Scotland Yard and that they are rivals. He adds that it should be amusing if both Gregson and Lestrade are investigating the same case. Holmes decides to help with the investigation and asks Watson to come with him.

Inspector Gregson (center) shows the corpse to Watson (left) and Holmes (right). 1888 illustration by Charles Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's father.

3 Lauriston Gardens is in a row of four houses away from the main street. Only two of the other houses are occupied. 3 Lauriston Gardens has a small untended garden and is surrounded by a three foot tall brick wall. A yellowish path of clay and gravel leads up to the house. When Holmes arrives, he walks slowly up and down the sidewalk in front of the house. He looks up at the sky, down at the ground, at the houses across the street and at a line of railings. He walks slowly along the side of the path which leads to the house, looking intently at the gravel. He is met at the door of the house by Inspector Gregson, who says that Inspector Lestrade is inside. Holmes chastises Gregson for having allowed the path to become covered with other people's footprints. Holmes asks Gregson if either he or Lestrade arrived in a cab. Gregson replies that they did not.

Inspector Gregson leads Holmes and Watson into the room where the dead body is. The room has only one very dirty window that does not let in much light. There is a fireplace with the stub of a red candle on the mantelpiece. The wallpaper has gone moldy and has fallen off the wall in some places, exposing the yellow plaster underneath. Inspector Lestrade is there. On the floor is the body of a well-dressed middle-aged man wearing patent leather boots. A top hat is on the floor next to him. His fists are clenched, his arms are stretched out and his legs are crossed. He has a look of horror and hatred on his face. He appears to have died in agony.

Holmes carefully examines the body, sniffing the dead man's lips at one point. He also examines the man's clothes and the bloodstains around the body. Since there is no wound on the body, Holmes concludes that the blood is not that of the dead man and is probably that of his murderer. Holmes says that there is nothing more that can be learned from the body and that it can be taken to the mortuary. As the body is carried away, a woman's wedding ring falls from it, which Holmes briefly examines. Holmes asks about the contents of the dead man's pockets. He is told that, in addition to the cards in the name of Enoch J. Drebber, which match the EJD monograms on the man's clothes, they found a book with the name Joseph Stangerson written inside it, a letter addressed to E.J. Drebber and another addressed to Joseph Stangerson. Both letters are from a steamship company about ships from Liverpool to New York. Gregson says that they have placed advertisements in all the newspapers asking for Joseph Stangerson. He adds that he has sent a telegram to the Cleveland police. Holmes asks Gregson what he wrote in the telegram. Gregson replies that he simply asked about Stangerson.

Holmes examines the word written in blood while Watson, Lestrade and Gregson watch. 1887 illustration by David Henry Friston.

Inspector Lestrade makes a discovery. In the darkest part of the room, on a piece of plaster where the wallpaper has fallen away, written in blood is the word "RACHE". Lestrade points out that, when the word was written, it was in the brightest part of the room because the candle on the mantelpiece was lit at that time. Lestrade is certain that the murderer wrote the word in his own blood and that he was writing the name Rachel when he was disturbed. Holmes carefully examines the bloody inscription with a magnifying glass and a tape measure. He then carefully examines the entire room, especially its floor. When he has finished, he asks for the name and address of the police officer who found the body. He is given the address of John Rance, who is currently off duty.

Holmes announces that the murder victim was killed by a man "in the prime of life" who is more than six feet tall, has unusually small feet for his height, wears square-toed boots, smokes Trichinopoly cigars, probably has a red face and has unusually long fingernails on his right hand. He goes on to say that both murderer and victim arrived in a four-wheeled cab that was pulled by a horse with three old shoes and one new one. He then adds that the victim was poisoned. Before leaving, Holmes tells Lestrade not to bother looking for a woman named Rachel because "Rache" is the German word for "revenge".

After leaving the house, Holmes first goes to send a long telegram. He and Watson then take a cab to John Rance's house.

Watson asks Holmes if he is certain about everything that he said about the murderer. Holmes replies that he is and explains why. Gregson said that he and Lestrade did not arrive by cab. It rained the previous night but had not rained for a week before that. Wheel tracks were left by a cab the previous night. The mark of one horseshoe being more distinct than the others means that the horse had one new shoe. The murderer's footprints show that he jumped over a muddy puddle, something which an old man would not have been able to do. His height is indicated by his stride. Also, people usually write on walls at their eye level. The writing in blood was six feet from the ground. The man scratched the plaster slightly while writing, indicating the long fingernails. Holmes knows about the Trichinopoly cigars because of the distinctive dark, flaky ash that was left on the floor. Watson asks Holmes about the red face. Holmes says that he is less certain about that and would prefer not to talk about it at present. Holmes says that he thinks that the German writing was intended to mislead the police. He does not think that it was written by a German. The writer made an attempt to imitate German typeface, something which Germans never do when writing by hand. Footprints show that both murderer and victim arrived in the same cab and walked down the pathway together, probably arm-in-arm. In the living room, the victim stood still while the murderer walked around. The length of his stride indicates that he was growing increasingly excited and was probably working himself into a fury.

Sherlock Holmes gets John Rance to give his account of what happened. Rance says that it started to rain at about one o'clock in the morning. He spoke to another police officer, Harry Murcher, at the corner of Henrietta Street for a few minutes. He then decided to check the Brixton Road. He did not see any people there, although a few cabs passed by him. Suddenly, he saw a light at 3 Lauriston Gardens, a house which he knew had been empty since its last tenant died of typhoid fever. He went to the door. It then occurred to him that the ghost of the last tenant might be inside. He went back to the front gate to see if Harry Murcher was there. Harry Murcher was not there. John Rance went inside the house. By the light of the red candle on the mantelpiece, he saw the dead body. John Rance went back outside and blew on his whistle. Harry Murcher and two other police officers came.

The drunk whom John Rance saw. Circa 1900 illustration by Richard Gutschmidt.

Holmes asks John Rance if the street was empty. Rance replies that it was, except for one man who, by his behavior, appeared to be extremely drunk. John Rance says that he and Harry Murcher had to prop the man up. Rance says that the drunk was wearing a brown overcoat and had a red face, the lower part of which was covered by a scarf. Holmes asks if the drunk was holding a whip. Rance replies that the man was not. Holmes asks Rance if he saw a cab afterwards. Rance replies that he did not. Holmes tells Rance that he let the murderer go.

Dr. Watson asks why the murderer came back to the house after having left it. Holmes replies that he came back for the ring and that they can use the ring to trap him.

Watson feels exhausted after the events of the morning. He goes home to rest. Holmes goes to a concert and returns in the evening. He asks Watson if he has seen the evening newspaper. Watson replies that he has not. Holmes says that there is an account of the crime in it. Fortunately, the article does not mention the woman's wedding ring which fell from the body. Holmes shows Watson that there is also an advertisement in the newspaper which says that a woman's gold wedding ring was found in the Brixton Road that morning. Its owner is advised to go to see Dr. Watson at 221B Baker Street between eight o'clock and nine o'clock that evening to collect it. Holmes says that he has placed identical advertisements in all the evening newspapers and explains that he did not use his name to prevent the police from interfering. He also shows Watson that he has another gold ring which is very similar to the one which the murderer lost. Holmes is certain that either the murderer or an accomplice will come to get the ring. He adds that the murderer must have dropped the ring while he was stooping over the victim's body. When he noticed that he had lost it, he returned to the empty house. Unfortunately for him, he had left the candle burning and had attracted the attention of the police. He therefore had to pretend to be drunk to avoid arousing the police officers' suspicion. Holmes does not believe that the murderer will suspect that the advertisement is a trap because he could reasonably assume that he had dropped the ring in the street. Holmes says that he will deal with any trouble that the murderer might cause, although he advises Watson to clean and load his old service revolver and put it in his pocket.

The old woman who comes to claim the ring. Circa 1900 illustration by Richard Gutschmidt.

Shortly afterwards, an old woman arrives. She says that she is Mrs. Sawyer and that the wedding ring belongs to her daughter Sally Dennis. Watson asks the old woman for her address. She replies that it is 13 Duncan Street, Houndsditch. She begins to say that her daughter lost the ring when she went to a circus the night before. When Holmes says that the Brixton Road is not between any circus and Houndsditch, the woman answers that she lives in Houndsditch but her daughter lives in Peckham. The old woman leaves with the ring. Holmes goes out soon afterwards to follow her.

Holmes returns shortly after midnight. He tells Watson that, shortly after leaving their apartment, the old woman got into a cab and loudly asked to be taken to 13 Duncan Road, Houndsditch. Holmes jumped onto the back of the cab and hid there. He jumped off shortly before the cab arrived at the address. When the cab driver opened the door, he found that the cab was empty. When Holmes went to 13 Duncan Street, he found that the people who lived there had never heard of Mrs. Sawyer or Sally Dennis. Watson is amazed that an old woman could have jumped out of a moving cab without either Holmes or the driver noticing. Holmes replies that the person who came to their apartment was not really an old woman but must instead have been an athletic young man who is an excellent actor.

The following morning, Watson reads in a newspaper that Enoch J. Drebber, the murder victim, had been living in London for a few weeks and had been staying at the boarding house of Madame Charpentier in Camberwell. He had been staying there with his private secretary Joseph Stangerson. The two men left the boarding house to take a train to Liverpool from Euston Station. They were seen on the platform there. Nothing more is known about them until the discovery of Drebber's body in the empty house off the Brixton Road, several miles away from Euston Station.

Watson, Holmes and his young assistants. Circa 1900 illustration by Richard Gutschmidt.

A group of dirty and ragged boys enter the apartment. Their leader appears to be a boy named Wiggins. Holmes asks them if they have found something. Wiggins replies that they have not. Holmes gives each boy a shilling before they leave. Holmes explains that the boys help him to gather information. Unlike police officers, who make people become nervous and turn silent, the boys can go everywhere and hear everything. Watson asks if the boys are looking for something connected to the murder of Enoch J. Drebber. Holmes replies that they are.

Inspector Gregson comes in. He announces that he has arrested Sub-lieutenant Arthur Charpentier of the Royal Navy for Enoch J. Drebber's murder. Gregson explains that he was able to get Drebber's address through the top hat which was found next to his body. The inspector went to the hatters and found out that they had sold such a hat to Mr. Drebber of Charpentier's Boarding House, Camberwell. Gregson went to the boarding house and spoke to Mrs. Charpentier and her daughter Alice. Mrs. Charpentier said that she had heard of Mr. Drebber's death. She told Gregson that Drebber and Stangerson left the boarding house at eight o'clock in the evening to catch a 9:15 train and did not come back. Alice protested that was not true. Mrs. Charpentier reluctantly agreed to tell the whole truth.

Mrs. Charpentier said that Mr. Drebber and Mr. Stangerson had been staying with them for nearly three weeks. Stangerson was quiet and well-behaved but Drebber was not. Drebber often made inappropriate suggestions to female servants and to Alice. Mrs. Charpentier said that she would have made Drebber leave her boarding house earlier if he and Stangerson had not been paying a pound a day each to stay there. After Drebber grabbed hold of Alice and hugged her, however, Mrs. Charpentier told him that he was no longer welcome. She was relieved when she saw him leave to take a train to Liverpool. Less than an hour later, however, Drebber came back. He was drunk and said that he had missed his train. Drebber called on Alice to run away with him. He said that he had money that would allow her to live like a princess. He grabbed her wrists and pulled her towards him. Mrs. Charpentier's son Arthur, who was home on leave from the Navy, came into the room. A fight ensued and Drebber ran out of the house. Arthur Charpentier chased after him with a cudgel in his hand. Arthur did not return home until after Mrs. Charpentier had gone to bed.

Inspector Gregson found Arthur Charpentier, still with the cudgel in his hand. He was not surprised to be arrested in connection to Drebber's death. Arthur Charpentier told Gregson that he saw Drebber get into a cab. Charpentier added that, after that, he met a shipmate and went for a long walk with him. Charpentier could not say where that shipmate lived.

Gregson thinks that Arthur Charpentier followed Drebber to the Brixton Road, killed him by striking him in the stomach with his cudgel and dragged his body into the empty house. The inspector thinks that the ring, the candle, the blood and the writing on the wall were all just attempts to mislead the police. Gregson takes great satisfaction in the idea that he has arrested the true murderer while Lestrade still suspects Joseph Stangerson.

Inspector Lestrade comes in. He announces that Joseph Stangerson was murdered at Halliday's Private Hotel at about six o'clock that morning. Lestrade explains that he reasoned that Stangerson was staying somewhere near Euston Station, the last place where he and Drebber had been seen together. Lestrade made inquiries at all the hotels and boarding houses near the station. At Halliday's Private Hotel, he was told that Joseph Stangerson was staying there and that he had been expecting a man to visit him for two days. Lestrade went up to Stangerson's room and saw blood trickling out from underneath the door. With the help of a member of the hotel staff, Lestrade broke open the door, which had been locked from the inside. The window of the room was open. The dead body of a man in nightclothes, who had died of a stab wound to the heart, lay next to the window. The hotel staff member identified the dead man as Joseph Stangerson. Written above the body in blood was the word "RACHE".

Lestrade got a description of the murderer from a boy who had been out delivering milk. The boy noticed that a ladder, which was usually at the back of the hotel building, had unusually been placed against an open upper story window. He then saw a man climbing out of the window. The boy assumed that the man was workman who had some task to do in the hotel room, although it struck him that it was early for the man to be working. The man appeared calm and paid no attention to the boy. The man was tall, had a red face and wore a long brown coat.

Sherlock Holmes asks if Lestrade found any other clues in the room. The inspector says that he found Drebber's purse, which is not surprising because Stangerson always did all the paying, with eighty pounds in it. There was also an unsigned telegram sent from Cleveland a month ago which read, "J.H. is in Europe." Lestrade also says that he found a small box containing two pills. The inspector has the pills with him and shows them to Holmes.

Holmes and Lestrade stop Jefferson hope from escaping through the window. 1889 illustration by George Hutchinson.

Holmes tells Watson to fetch a dog, a dying terrier which their landlady had previously asked Watson to put out of its misery. Holmes takes one of the pills and cuts it in half, so that the other half can be kept as evidence. He puts it into water and it dissolves. He adds some milk to the water, pours it into a saucer and gives it to the dog. The dog drinks it but nothing happens to the animal. After some time, Holmes declares that one of the pills must be poisonous and the other one must be harmless. He cuts the other pill in half and repeats the same process. The dog dies almost as soon as its tongue touches the milky water.

The boy Wiggins comes into the room and says, "I have the cab downstairs." Holmes asks Wiggins to send up the cab driver to help him with his luggage, which comes as a surprise to Watson who did not know that Holmes was going on a trip. The cab driver enters the room. Holmes asks him to help strap shut a suitcase. When he does so, Holmes handcuffs him. Holmes announces that the driver is Jefferson Hope, the murderer of Enoch J. Drebber and Joseph Stangerson. Jefferson Hope rushes to the window and breaks it, cutting his hands and face badly in the process. Holmes, Gregson and Lestrade prevent him from jumping out of the broken window. Jefferson Hope continues to fight back but Holmes, Watson, Gregson and Lestrade eventually subdue him. Holmes tells the inspectors that they should take Jefferson Hope to the police station in his own cab.

Part 2

John Ferrier and Lucy are rescued by the Mormons. 1887 illustration by David Henry Friston.

On May 4, 1847, a man named John Ferrier and a little girl named Lucy are lost in a vast uninhabited and uninhabitable desert which stretches from the Sierra Nevada to Nebraska and from the Yellowstone River to the Colorado River. The man and the girl are the only survivors from a wagon train. The other twenty-one people from the wagon train all died of hunger or thirst. John Ferrier realizes that there is no chance of finding food or water in the desert and that he and Lucy are going to die. He tells the child this. She is not afraid to die, in fact, she is pleased that she will be able to see her deceased mother again. John Ferrier and Lucy lean against a rock and go to sleep. While they are sleeping, an enormous wagon train made up of Mormons, led by Brigham Young himself, arrives in the desert. John Ferrier and Lucy are found by the Mormons. John Ferrier declares that Lucy is now his adopted daughter because he has saved her life. Brigham Young says that John Ferrier and Lucy can join the wagon train but only on the condition that they convert to the Mormon faith. They are entrusted to the care of a man named Stangerson who is tasked with teaching them about their new religion.

John Ferrier soon earns the admiration of his fellow travelers for his skill as a guide and a hunter. It is agreed that, on arrival in Utah, he will be given as much land as almost everybody else. Brigham Young and the four principal Elders, Stangerson, Kimball, Johnston and Drebber who are known as the Holy Four, receive more farmland than the others. John Ferrier prospers on his farm. In twelve years, he becomes the richest man in Salt Lake City and famous throughout the region. During that time, Lucy grows into a beautiful young woman.

One June morning, Lucy goes into Salt Lake City on business for John Ferrier. She finds herself in the middle of a vast herd of cattle which is being driven through the city. A bullock pokes her horse with one of its horns, causing the horse to become extremely agitated and almost throw Lucy off its back. Lucy's life is saved by a man named Jefferson Hope, a silver miner in the Nevada Mountains whose father had been a friend of John Ferrier in St. Louis. Lucy invites Jefferson Hope to visit her adoptive father. He soon becomes a frequent visitor to John Ferrier's farmhouse and Lucy gradually falls in love with him. After a few weeks, Jefferson Hope tells Lucy that he is leaving. He says that he will return in a few months, after he has established a working silver mine. John Ferrier has given permission for Lucy to leave with Jefferson Hope at that time. Lucy is pleased to hear this.

John Ferrier is saddened by the idea of losing his adopted daughter. He is, however, happy that she will not be marrying a Mormon. He hates the fact that Mormon men are allowed to have more than one wife and has grown to dislike the way that Mormons act subserviently towards their Prophet Brigham Young. He is careful not to voice his opinions, however. Other people who have questioned aspects of the Mormon faith have been known to disappear. A secret organization known as the Avenging Angels has been set up to deal with heretics and to abduct women from neighboring settlements to become wives for Mormon men.

Brigham Young himself comes to John Ferrier's farmhouse. Young says to Ferrier that he has heard rumors that Lucy is engaged to a non-Mormon. He points out that Mormons are forbidden from marrying non-believers. He says that, instead, Lucy should marry either the son of Elder Stangerson or the son of Elder Drebber. He adds that the young woman has a month to decide which of the two men she is to marry. Lucy overhears this. After Brigham Young has gone, she asks John Ferrier what they are going to do. Ferrier says that he will send a message to Jefferson Hope explaining the situation. He is certain that the young man will come over at once. Ferrier adds that he thinks that he and Lucy will have to leave Utah. Lucy says that she has heard terrible stories of things that have happened to people who defied Brigham Young. John Ferrier says that he is not afraid. Nevertheless, he makes sure that the doors of his farmhouse are locked that night and cleans and loads his old rifle.

The following day, John Ferrier has a message sent to Jefferson Hope. When he returns home, he finds Joseph Stangerson and Enoch J. Drebber, the sons of Elder Stangerson and Elder Drebber, waiting for him. They say that Lucy has to choose which of them she is to marry. Stangerson mentions that he already has four wives and Drebber mentions that he already has seven. John Ferrier says that he does not want to see the two men again and threatens to throw them out of the window if they do not leave. Stangerson and Drebber tell Ferrier that he will suffer for having defied the will of the Prophet and the Holy Four.

John Ferrier sees the number 28 written on his kitchen ceiling. 1888 illustration by Charles Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's father.

When he wakes up the following morning, John Ferrier finds a piece of paper pinned to his bedclothes above his chest. Written on the paper is, "Twenty-nine days are given you for amendment, and then -". The next morning, Ferrier sees the number 28 written on his kitchen ceiling. The day after that, he sees the number 27 painted on his front door. Each day, he sees some reminder of how many days he has left before revenge is taken on him. Each day, he hopes that Jefferson Hope will return to take Lucy and him to safety. When there are only three days left, John Ferrier becomes resigned to his fate. He cannot escape because he does not know the mountains around Salt Lake City. All the main roads out of the city are guarded and nobody can leave without permission of the Elders. Ferrier decides that he would still rather die than allow Lucy to dishonor herself by marrying either Stangerson or Drebber.

The night before the last day of his allotted time, John Ferrier hears a scratching at his front door. He opens it and finds a man lying on the ground. The man crawls into the farmhouse like a snake and then reveals himself to be Jefferson Hope. He explains that he entered that way to avoid being seen by the sentinels who are watching the farmhouse. Knowing that Ferrier has only one day left, Hope says that they will have to leave that night. Hope says that he has two horses and a mule waiting for them at Eagle Canyon and that they will go over the mountains to Carson City. John Ferrier takes two thousand dollars in gold and five dollars in bills. Jefferson Hope takes food and water. Lucy takes a few possessions. They leave out of a side window of the farmhouse and go across fields towards the road that leads to Eagle Canyon. At one point, Jefferson Hope makes his companions hide in the shadows when he hears two sentinels approach. The two sentinels have a brief conversation. Just before they leave in opposite directions, one says the code words, "Nine to seven!" The other gives the coded reply, "Seven to five!"

At Eagle Canyon, Jefferson Hope and John Ferrier mount the horses and Lucy is put on the mule. Before long, they see a sentinel with a gun. The sentinel asks who they are. Hope says that they are travelers going to Nevada. Ferrier adds that they have the permission of the Holy Four to go there. The sentinel says, "Nine to seven." Hope replies, "Seven to five." They are then allowed to pass.

Jefferson Hope finds John Ferrier's grave. Circa 1900 illustration by Richard Gutschmidt.

After traveling for two and a half days, John Ferrier, Lucy and Jefferson Hope run out of food. At midday, Jefferson Hope makes a fire and leaves John Ferrier and Lucy by it while he goes hunting. After searching fruitlessly over some distance for three hours, Hope eventually shoots a bighorn sheep. He then realizes that he is lost. It is dark by the time Hope eventually finds the place where he left John Ferrier and Lucy. The fire is still smoldering but John Ferrier, Lucy, the horses and the mule are gone. Tracks on the ground show that a large number of men on horseback came there. Hope then notices a freshly dug grave. A piece of paper stuck on a stick identifies the grave as that of John Ferrier who died on August 4, 1860. Hope does not see a second grave and concludes that Lucy has been taken back to Salt Lake City alive to be married. Hope realizes that he will not be able to prevent Lucy's marriage but vows to take revenge on the men who abducted her and killed her adoptive father.

After five days of traveling by foot, Jefferson Hope arrives back in Salt Lake City. A Mormon named Cowper, whom Jefferson Hope worked for in the past, tells him that his life is in danger for having helped the Ferriers to escape. He is also told that Lucy has married Drebber, even though Stangerson thought that he had a stronger claim to her because he was the one who killed John Ferrier. Cowper does not think that Lucy will live long, saying that she looks more like a ghost than a woman.

A month later, Lucy dies. Drebber, who only married her to get hold of John Ferrier's property, does not pretend to be saddened by her death. Drebber's seven other wives, however, hold a vigil by her corpse the night before her burial, as is the Mormon custom. Jefferson Hope bursts into the room where the women are watching over Lucy's body. He takes the wedding ring from Lucy's finger, saying that she will not be buried wearing that, and leaves.

For several months, Jefferson Hope stays in the mountains near Salt Lake City. He returns to the city from time to time to make unsuccessful attempts on the lives of Stangerson and Drebber. The two men realize that Jefferson Hope is trying to kill them and take precautions. They drop those precautions after a while when they think their lives are no longer in danger.

Jefferson Hope realizes that living alone in the mountains is damaging his health and that he will not be able to take revenge on Stangerson and Drebber if he dies. He returns to Nevada to work in a silver mine for five years. He returns to Salt Lake City in disguise and under an assumed name. He finds out that Stangerson and Drebber were among some people who had a disagreement with the Elders and who left the Mormon Church and left Utah as a result. Drebber remained rich because he was able to sell most of his property in Utah. Stangerson was not able to do so and became relatively poor. Drebber eventually employs Stangerson as his private secretary. Jefferson Hope travels across the United States in search of the two men. He takes a series of menial jobs to support himself.

In Cleveland, Ohio, Jefferson Hope sees Drebber. Unfortunately for Hope, Drebber also sees him. Drebber and Stangerson inform the authorities that their lives are in danger. Jefferson Hope is arrested. He is unable to pay bail and stays in jail for several weeks. When he is released, he finds that Drebber and Stangerson have escaped to Europe. Jefferson Hope needs to work and save money for a few years before he is able to travel to Europe as well. He follows Stangerson and Drebber across the continent, again taking a series of menial jobs to support himself. He eventually tracks the two men down in London.

Resumption of Watson's narrative

Jefferson Hope gives his statement in front of Holmes, Watson and Lestrade. Circa 1900 illustration by Richard Gutschmidt.

Jefferson Hope realizes that there is no chance of escape. He apologizes to Holmes, Watson, Gregson and Lestrade for any harm he might have done to them in the recent fight and agrees to come quietly to the police station. At the police station, Jefferson Hope says that he may not live to stand trial. Watson examines Hope's chest and finds that he has an aortic aneurysm. Hope says that he would like to make a statement while he still can.

Hope says that he followed Drebber and Stangerson to London, planning to take revenge on them for the deaths of Lucy and John Ferrier. He carried Lucy's wedding ring with him at all times because he wanted it to be the last thing that Drebber saw before he died. One of the many menial jobs that Jefferson Hope had in the United States was as janitor at a university. There, he saw a professor give a lecture about a deadly poison and show a bottle of the poison to the students. Hope stole the bottle of poison and used it to make two pills. He also made two harmless pills that looked exactly the same as the poisonous pills. He also carried the pills with him at all times. In London, Hope got a job as a cab driver. A passenger left the key to the empty house off the Brixton Road in Hope's cab. Hope returned the key but took an impression of it and had a copy made first. Jefferson Hope found out where Drebber and Stangerson were staying and often followed them in his cab. He noticed that Drebber was often drunk. Stangerson and Drebber were cautious, however. They never went out alone and never went out at night.

One evening, Hope was driving his cab up and down the street where Drebber and Stangerson's boarding house was. He saw the two men leave and get into a cab with their luggage. He followed them to Euston Station and onto the platform. Hope was able to get close enough to Stangerson and Drebber among the crowd of people on the platform to hear them talk. They asked about the train to Liverpool. They were told that they had missed it and that the next one would be in two hours. Drebber, who was drunk as susual, said that he had some business that he wanted to take care of alone. Stangerson told Drebber to meet him at Halliday's Private Hotel if he missed the last train.

Hope saw Drebber get into another cab and followed him back to his boarding house. Hope heard a scuffle inside the house and saw Drebber get chased out of it by Charles Charpentier. The cab in which Drebber arrived had gone by that time. He hailed Jefferson Hope's and asked to be taken to Halliday's Private Hotel. Shortly afterwards, Drebber made Jefferson Hope stop outside a gin palace. Drebber stayed inside the gin palace until it closed. He then emerged, even more drunk, and got back into Jefferson Hope's cab. Hope then drove to the empty house off the Brixton Road. There were no other people about due to the late hour and the bad weather. On arrival at the empty house, Hope fond that Drebber was in a drunken slumber in the back of the cab. Drebber assumed that they had arrived at the hotel. Hope had to help him walk from the cab to the house because he was so drunk.

Enoch J. Drebber and Jefferson Hope. Circa 1900 illustration by Richard Gutschmidt.

Inside the house, Drebber complained of the darkness. Hope lit a candle and said, "Now, Enoch Drebber, who am I?" Drebber soon recognized him. Hope felt excited that he was about to take revenge. His excitement and his illness caused him to have a nosebleed. Hope showed Drebber that he had two identical-looking pills, one of which was deadly poisonous and one of which was harmless. He forced Drebber to take one of the pills, he took the other and said that they would wait to see who died. After the poison took effect, Hope bent over Drebber's body to make sure he was dead. Hope remembered the case of a German who was found dead in New York with the word "Rache" written above him. The police were baffled by the murder and believed that it had some connection to secret societies. Jefferson Hope believed that what had confused the police in New York would do the same in London and used the blood from his nosebleed to write the word on the wall. After having driven some way, Jefferson Hope found that he had lost Lucy's wedding ring. He went back to the empty house but found that the police were there. He pretended to be drunk to deflect suspicion.

Hope knew that Stangerson was staying at Halliday's Private Hotel. He found out which room window was Stangerson's but Stangerson never left the room. Hope made use of a ladder that was always at the back of the hotel to enter Stangerson's room. He offered Stangerson the choice of pills but Stangerson rushed to attack him. Hope stabbed him in self-defense.

After the murders, Jefferson Hope continued working as a cab driver, hoping to earn enough money to travel back to the United States. That morning, a boy came to Jefferson Hope's cab yard, asked for him by name and said that Sherlock Holmes of 221B Baker Street required his services.

Jefferson Hope admits that he sent the actor dressed as an old woman to claim the ring. He refuses, however, to reveal the man's identity.

As he had predicted, Jefferson Hope dies of his aortic aneurysm before he can stand trial.

Watson and Holmes.Circa 1900 illustration by Richard Gutschmidt.

Holmes explains that he immediately noticed that the wheel tracks outside the empty house were the narrow ones of a cab and not the wider ones of a private carriage. Wheel tracks outside the house showed that the horse had wandered off on its own, indicating that the cab driver had left the cab and gone inside the house with the passenger. Among the footprints of the police officers on the path, Holmes saw prints from square-toed boots and patent leather boots. Inside the house, he saw that the dead man was wearing patent leather boots, indicating that the square-toed boots belonged to the murderer. The smell that Holmes detected on the dead man's lips indicated that he had been poisoned. The look of horror on the dead man's face showed that the poison had been forced on him. The fact that a trail of blood followed the tracks of the square-toed boots suggested that the blood was from a nosebleed. Holmes drew the conclusion that the murderer must have had a lot of blood in him, hence the red face.

The presence of a woman's wedding ring clearly suggested to Holmes that the motive for murder was a dead or absent woman. Holmes sent a telegram to the Cleveland police asking if Drebber had ever been married. In his reply, Holmes was told that Drebber had asked for protection from an old rival in love named Jefferson Hope who had gone to Europe. Holmes thought it was unlikely that Jefferson Hope would have changed his name in England and that he was unlikely to have given up his job as a cab driver after the murder of Drebber. Therefore, he got his boy assistants to look for Jefferson Hope's cab. Holmes says that he had not expected Stangerson to be killed but had already guessed that Jefferson Hope used poisonous pills.

Dr. Watson says that Holmes should write an account of the case. Watson adds that he will write an account of the case if Holmes will not.


The 1899 play Sherlock Holmes by the American actor and playwright William Gillette draws on material from A Study in Scarlet and the short stories "A Scandal in Bohemia" and "The Final Problem". The play was filmed in 1915 (starring William Gillette as Holmes), 1922 (starring John Barrymore as Holmes) and 1932 (starring Clive Brook as Holmes). The 1939 Hollywood movie The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which stars the British actors Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as Holmes and Watson, is credited as an adaptation of the play Sherlock Holmes, although the play and the film have very little in common.

Two silent movie adaptations of A Study in Scarlet were released in 1914. The first was a British film in which Holmes was played by James Bragington, an accountant by trade with no other acting credits. The second was an American movie in which Holmes was played by Francis Ford, who was also the film's director. Both films are now believed to be lost. An Australian animated film adaptation of A Study in Scarlet, in which Holmes is voiced by Peter O'Toole, was released in 1983.

Title card for the 1933 film A Study in Scarlet.

The 1933 American film A Study in Scarlet, which stars the British actor Reginald Owen as Holmes, is credited as being, "suggested by the book by A. Conan Doyle." In fact, the film and the novel have very little in common. This is because the film makers purchased the right to use the title A Study in Scarlet from the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but did not purchase the right to adapt the novel itself. Some of the movie's dialog, however, is lifted directly from the novel. There are also allusions to other works in the Sherlock Holmes Canon. For example, one of the film's characters is called Jabez Wilson and has some similarities to the character of the same name from the short story "The Red-Headed League". The plot concerns an organization called the Scarlet Ring which is made up of six men who acquired two hundred thousand pounds worth of stolen jewels from China. The members of the Scarlet Ring are being murdered one-by-one. Before each man is killed, he receives a piece of paper with a verse written on it, such as, "Six little black boys,/Playing with a hive,/A bumble-bee stung one,/And then there were five." The murderer is ultimately revealed to be a member of the Scarlet Ring who had earlier faked his own death. The plot is remarkably similar to that of the Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None, which was first published some six years after the film's release in November 1939.

A Study in Scarlet was adapted for television as the third episode of the BBC TV series Sherlock Holmes starring Peter Cushing as Holmes and Nigel Stock as Watson. The episode was first broadcast in the United Kingdom on September 23, 1968. The novel was adapted as "A Study in Pink", the first episode of the BBC TV series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson, which first aired in the United Kingdom on July 25, 2010. The episodes "The Deductionist" (episode 14 of season 1, first shown on CBS on February 3, 2013) and "A Study in Charlotte" (episode 13 of season 4, first shown on CBS on February 18, 2016) of the American TV series Elementary, which stars Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes and Lucy Liu as Watson, draw on elements from A Study in Scarlet. The first two episodes of the Japanese TV series Sherlock Holmes Puppet Entertainment, which were first broadcast on NHK General TV on October 12 and October 19, 2014, present a story which is a loose adaptation of A Study in Scarlet and the short story "The Adventure of the Six Napoleons".

Two of the Russian-language TV movies starring Vasily Livanov as Holmes and Vitaly Solomin as Watson, which were first shown on television in the Soviet Union in 1979, are adaptations of A Study in Scarlet. For the first thirty-five minutes of its sixty-seven minute running time, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: Acquaintance, the first of the two TV movies, is an adaptation of the portions of A Study in Scarlet which deal with the start of Holmes' and Watson's relationship. The remainder of the film is an adaptation of the short story "The Adventure of the Speckled Band". The Jefferson Hope murders are dealt with in Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: Bloody Inscription, the second of the two TV movies.

Ronald Howard in 1960.

"The Case of the Cunningham Heritage", the first episode of the French-American TV series Sherlock Holmes starring Ronald Howard as Holmes and Howard Marion Crawford as Watson, which first aired in the United States in syndication on October 18, 1954, is a partial adaptation of A Study in Scarlet. For the first ten minutes of its half hour running time, the episode is a faithful adaptation of the portions of the novel that deal with the beginning of Holmes' and Watson's relationship. The rest of the program is an original story, a non-canonical Sherlock Holmes adventure, in which Holmes proves that a woman who is falsely accused of murder is not guilty.

Episode 623 of the American radio series CBS Radio Mystery Theater, which first aired in the United States on March 25, 1977. is an adaptation of A Study in Scarlet which stars Kevin McCarthy as Holmes. A Study in Scarlet was adapted as a two-part British radio drama staring Clive Merrison as Holmes and Michael Williams as Watson. The two episodes, the first of which is subtitled "Revenge" and the second of which is subtitled "In the Country of the Saints", were first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on November 5 and November 12, 1989. A further sixty-two radio plays starring Merrison and Williams as Holmes and Watson, in which the other three novels and the fifty-six stories which make up the Sherlock Holmes Canon were adapted, first aired on BBC Radio 4 between December 10, 1989 and July 5, 1998.

Issue #33 of Classic Comics from January 1947 includes adaptations of A Study in Scarlet and The Hound of the Baskervilles. Another adaptation of A Study in Scarlet was produced for issue #110 of the same comic book series, which had changed its name to Classics Illustrated by that time, in 1953. Graphic novels based on A Study in Scarlet were released by Innovation Publishing in 1989 and by Sterling Publishing in 2010.

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