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Game Is AfootSherlock Holmes*

Sherlock Holmes, one of literature’s greatest characters, holds the Guinness World Book of Records of “most portrayed literary human character in film & TV,” depicted onscreen 254+ times by over 75 different actors. *The Game Is Afoot! by Tom Richmond showcases eight—John Barrymore, Basil Rathbone, Peter Cushing, Christopher Plummer, Michael Caine, Jeremy Brett, Robert Downey Jr., and Benedict Cumberbatch.

So…Why the Mystery Genre? Why Sherlock Holmes?

A well-written mystery, combining literary elements with rhetorical strategies, can bridge the gap between AP Literature and AP Language. Perfect. Because of inexpensive editions (even free online), audio and video files, and extensive analysis, both fannish and serious, Sherlock works. Pick a favorite story for whole class study, even reading it aloud IN class. Since Holmes is so challaneging, random read-alouds test student reading levels far better than other reading assessments. This first story becomes the base reference for teaching everything from notetaking to punctuation to thesis sentences. LIT Circle student groups pick their next story and prepare a class presentation. An especially interested group may want to pursue a pastiche—one of many retold, expanded, reset, modenized, or otherwise adapted tales (some listed below).

General Introductory Activities


LifeSherlock Holmes Special Edition

On the stands until mid-April, this special 2017 edition produced by Life magazine has 94 pages on every era of Sherlock from the first story in 1859 to present day movie and TV incarnations. BUT no Jeremy Brett...Really?

Sherlock Holmes Research Questions can be used for small groups, one per individual, or for independent research.

Sherlock Holmes PowerPoint

Bookmark 1Bookmark 2red headDo More with “The Red-headed League”
•Reading Check. Cold random read out loud. No one will laugh and I will pronounce a word if a reader hesitates.
Notetaking. Small groups prepare this story’s notes in the required format. After this practice, groups prepare formatted notes as part of their Lit Circle seminar presentation on the next story. Form and Sample. Sample notetaking bookmark on left.
Theses. Handout on theses starts with sample fill-in-the-blank sentences for an autobiographical essay. Second set of theses uses parallel sentence structures on this story for an analytical essay.
•Introductions & Essay Writing. Sample sentences on this story introduce eighteen strategies for introductions.
Annotation. Sample handout with this story annotated in a Word document.
Passage. Watson’s description of Holmes is ueful for punctuation, sentence structure, paragraphing, style and rhetoric analyses.
Critical Analysis. Masterplots article on this story serveto tech how to cite outside evidence and integrate quotes into an essay.

•The Usual Stuff. Handouts on Vocabulary, Adjectives and Adverbs, Review Questions, and Further Discussion Questions.
My Packet. Leveled Study Questions, Quote Application, Evaluation Composition, Dialogue Writing, and Plot Analysis.

wordleGeneral Mystery Materials for “Any Story”


These articles can be used for practice in integrating and citing critical sources—


PunchArthur Conan Doyle & Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes Introduction (PPT)

Villains in Holmes (PPT)

Quotable Sherlock Holmes Categorized in 200+ Pages (PDF)

Holmes Resumé Infographic

Holmes Trivia Infographic

Punch (1926) cartoon showing Doyle with his head in the clouds, chained to his fictional creation Sherlock Holmes.



Though all the links are not current, the place to start is the Sherlockian.net. It has the most thorough links to the srtories and to teaching materials. An especially useful link is The View Halloa, which has questions and links for every story.


Lit2Go is a free online collection of stories and poems in Mp3 (audiobook) format. An abstract, citation, playing time, and word count are given for each of the passages. ALL the stories. Each reading passage can also be downloaded as a PDF. Many stories also have related student activities.

Shmoop is always interesting and includes full materials for the 12 stories in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the 13 stories in The Return of Sherlock Holmes, and the novel The Hound of the Baskervilles.

The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes has a whole series of lessons based on the techniques of Holmes. Resources.


56 Stories & 4 Novels

Sherlock Holmes appeared in a total of 60 stories, written by Arthur Conan Doyle and published between 1887 and 1927.

  1. A Study in Scarlet (novel, 1887)
  2. The Sign of the Four (novel, 1890)
  3. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
    • A Scandal in Bohemia, 1891
    • The Red-headed League, 1891
    • A Case of Identity, 1891
    • The Boscombe Valley Mystery, 1891
    • The Five Orange Pips, 1891
    • The Man with the Twisted Lip, 1891
    • The Blue Carbuncle, 1892
    • The Speckled Band, 1892
    • The Engineer’s Thumb, 1892
    • The Noble Bachelor, 1892
    • The Beryl Coronet, 1892
    • The Copper Beeches, 1892
  4. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
    • Silver Blaze, 1892
    • The Yellow Face, 1893
    • The Stock-broker’s Clerk, 1893
    • The ‘Gloria Scott,’ 1893
    • The Musgrave Ritual, 1893
    • The Reigate Squires, 1893
    • The Crooked Man, 1893
    • The Resident Patient, 1893
    • The Greek Interpreter, 1893
    • The Naval Treaty, 1893
    • The Final Problem, 1893
  5. The Hound of the Baskervilles (novel, 1901-02)
  6. The Return of Sherlock Holmes
    • The Empty House, 1903
    • The Norwood Builder, 1903
    • The Dancing Men, 1903
    • The Solitary Cyclist, 1903
    • The Priory School, 1904
    • Black Peter, 1904
    • Charles Augustus Milverton, 1904
    • The Six Napoleons, 1904
    • The Three Students, 1904
    • The Golden Pince-Nez, 1904
    • The Missing Three-Quarter, 1904
    • The Abbey Grange, 1904
    • The Second Stain, 1904
  7. The Valley of Fear (novel, 1914-15)
  8. His Last Bow
    • Wisteria Lodge, 1908
    • The Cardboard Box, 1893
    • The Red Circle, 1911
    • The Bruce-Partington Plans, 1908
    • The Dying Detective, 1913
    • Lady Frances Carfax, 1911
    • The Devil’s Foot, 1910
    • His Last Bow, 1917
  9. The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes
    • The Illustrious Client, 1924
    • The Blanched Soldier, 1926
    • The Mazarin Stone, 1921
    • The Three Gables, 1926
    • The Sussex Vampire, 1924
    • The Three Garridebs, 1924
    • Thor Bridge, 1922
    • The Creeping Man, 1923
    • The Lion’s Mane, 1926
    • The Veiled Lodger, 1927
    • Shoscombe Old Place, 1927
    • The Retired Colourman, 1926


Ordeals Judgement Sacrifice

Great fun for fans! Jonathon Barnes’ Big Finish series includes three installments, each a set of four, interconnected cases. A story of epic proportions, the four hour-long audio recordings expand the Holmes legacy.

The Ordeals of Sherlock Holmes (2013) covers four decades. Four cases. One solution. From the plains of Afghanistan to the alleyways of Victorian London, from the dark heart of the English countryside to the ruin of Europe after the Great War, join Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson in a quartet of astonishing new investigations which span their lifelong friendship, and beyond.

The Judgement of Sherlock Holmes (2014) covers those enigmatic years in which, believed dead at the Reichenbach Falls, the Great Detective roved the world incognito. Shrouded in obscurity and doubt, the particulars of that time too terrible and too strange are now set down in full.

The Sacrifice of Sherlock Holmes (2016). On a cold, wet, unforgiving day in the November of 1921, London is under attack. Drawn from retirement to combat the menace, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are forced, without warning, to confront old enemies and new threats—and an evil which has been waiting for decades to exact its revenge.




Sherlock Holmes Baker Street Museum short video.

Jeremy Brett

Jeremy Brett Granada TV versions, full playlist. These are less than an hour each and are truly the best adaptations of the short stories. On YouTube, some stories are in several separate parts. Available for purchase.


Sherlock tv

The BBC One Sherlock television series, modernized and contemporary, has great charm and its own wonderful Original Trailer and an Extended Trailer. Behind-the-scene interviews, clips, summaries, technical details, outtakes and even the new John Watson’s blog. There are four seasons available. Series 4 Teaser. Fun from the site—What Can Sherlock Deduce about You?


Sherlock 2009Sherlock Holmes (2009) version with Robert Downey Jr. is visually stunning. PG-13 but flirts with an R. Teaching Guide available. Official Trailer.

Young SherlockYoung Sherlock Holmes (1985 ) follows the adventures of young John Watson, shipped off to boarding school and meeting up with the brilliantly bizarre Sherlock Holmes. Striking up a friendship, the two boys promptly become involved in the investigation of a number of mysterious murders. Official Trailer. PowerPoint.

















Mr Holmes



Set primarily during his retirement, Mr. Holmes (2015) follows a 93-year-old Holmes who struggles to recall the details of his final case while his mind begins to deteriorate. Official Trailer.

The Great Sherlockian Pastiche

A pastiche is a work of visual art, literature, theatre, or music that imitates the style or character of the work of one or more other artists. Unlike parody, pastiche celebrates, rather than mocks, the work it imitates. Allusion is not pastiche. A literary allusion may refer to another work, but it does not reiterate it. Moreover, allusion requires the audience to share in the author’s cultural knowledge. Both allusion and pastiche are mechanisms of intertextuality. For example, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is a pastiche of Hamlet. Some Titles.

New Sherlock Holmes stories fall into many categories, including additional stories in the conventional mould, stories placing Holmes in settings ofcontemporary interest (such as World War II, or the present), crossover stories in which Holmes is pitted against other fictional villains, explorations of unusual aspects of Holmes’ character which are hinted at in Conan Doyle’s works (e.g. drug use), stories from his youth, his retirement—even stories told by other Holmes’ characters.

An extensive discussion of the many versions is on Wikipedia. The Booklist Reader also discusses some special adaptations.

The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes by Adrian Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr, includes 12 “new” stories, each postscripted with a quote from one of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, making reference to an undocumented Holmes case that inspired it. The Improbable Advenures of Sherlock Holmes comes in all genres. George Mann edited two series, Encounters of Sherlock Holmes and Further Encounters of Sherlock Holmes. Isaac Asimov edited Sherlock Holmes Through Time and Space which adds science fiction and fantasy to the pastiche. Titan Books has published a series of sixteen Holmes pastiches. Titan also publishes a series with several novels by Guy Adams, James Lovegrove, George Mann, and Cavan Scott.

Good Night
The Irene Adler Series
by Carole Nelson Douglas

Told by Penelope Huxleigh, a mousy governess from the country, Irene Adler’s version of the Holmes canon is enchanting. Carefully grounded in the originals, the tales are true to the time and texts.

Early books have been re-released under other titles (below).

    1. Good Night, Mr. Holmes
    2. Good Morning, Irene (The Adventuress)
    3. Irene at Large (A Soul of Steel)
    4. Irene’s Last Waltz (Another Scandal in Bohemia)
    5. Chapel Noir
    6. Castel Rouge
    7. Femme Fatale
    8. Spider Dance
    9. The Private Wife of Sherlock Holmes (novella)

    Douglas article on the Irene Adler Character: “Why Can’t They Get Irene Adler Right?”


Good Night
The Beekeeper Series
by Laurie King

Recently retired and beekeeping in Sussex, Holmes finds a new partner in Mary Russell, a young Jewish American orphan. Under Holmes’ sardonic tutelage, Russell hones her talent for deduction, disguises, and danger. Ultimately, she even marries Holmes... sort of. Book Club Guides available.

    1. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice Student Guide (130 pages), Exerpt, and Discussion Guide.
    2. A Monstrous Regiment of Women
    3. A Letter of Mary
    4. The Moor
    5. O Jerusalem
    6. Justice Hall
    7. The Game
    8. Locked Rooms
    9. The Language of Bees
    10. The God of the Hive
    11. Pirate King
    12. Garment of Shadows
    13. Dreaming Spies
    14. The Murder of Mary Russell

Good Night
The Darkest Side of Holmes
by Nicholas Meyer

The Seven-Percent Solution, published as a “lost manuscript” of the late Dr. John H. Watson, the book recounts Holmes’ recovery from cocaine addiction (with the help of Sigmund Freud) and his subsequent prevention of a European war through the unravelling of a sinister kidnapping plot.

West EndThe West End Horror concerns a series of strange murders in London’s theater district at the end of the 19th century, bearing subtle references to Jack the Ripper and his crimes.

Canary Trainer



The Canary Trainer
is a first-person narrative, in which Holmes recounts a visit to Paris, where he played violin for the Palais Garnier opera and became entangled with a mysterious “Phantom.”


Good Night
Holmes Comes to Minnesota in Series by Larry Millett

Although set in Minnesota, Millett sticks to tradition, with Dr. John Watson narrating the stories, but Shadwell Rafferty, a St. Paul saloonkeeper, who serves as an able partner to the Holmes/Watson duo. Rafferty takes center stage in the last books. Minnesotans, real and fictional, appear throughout.

    1. Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon
    2. Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders
    3. Sherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery
    4. Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Alliance
    5. The Disappearance of Sherlock Holmes
    6. The Magic Bullet
    7. Strongwood

    Good Night

    Arthur Conan Doyle Detects in Two Tales by Mark Frost

    Arthur Conan Doyle takes center stage in Frost’s two novels. The List of 7 even works in Doyle’s fascination with spiritualism. The 6 Messiahs takes Doyle and his brother Innes on a book tour across America.


Death Cloud
Young Sherlock Holmes Series by Andy Lane

Featuring Holmes as a teenager in the 1860s, Lane aims to explain some of Holmes’ complex character, scientific and analytical on the one hand, and artistic and moody on the other. Introduces his titors as new characters. Not exactly young adult fiction. Authorized by the Doyle estate.


    1. Death Cloud
    2. Red Leech
    3. Black Ice
    4. Fire Storm
    5. Snake Bite
    6. Knife Edge
    7. Stone Cold
    8. Night Break

Real WorldThe Real World of Sherlock Holmes by B. J. Rahn

This book reveals the men who inspired that iconic persona and takes a fascinating look at crime and detection in nineteenth-century London. She explores how the work of police detectives and CSI evolved in this era, from footprint analysis and human blood testing to fingerprinting and crime-scene photography
Great Detective

The Great Detective: The Amazing Rise and Immortal Life of Sherlock Holmes by Zach Dundas

This book is crammed with enough research—­Holmesean, Watsonian, Doylean—to bulge the seams. A delight for Baker Streeters.




Dictionary of National Biography and Bio.com

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Updated 18 November 2022



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