Where to start with...

Where to start with Sherlock Holmes

Ever wondered the best Sherlock Holmes books to read first? Here's how to delve into the stories by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Image: Victoria Ford / Penguin

Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes in 1887, in the midst of a career as a doctor and botanist. He was 27 when he wrote A Study in Scarlet, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson's debut, in just three weeks. 

From that humble beginning, three Sherlock novels and five collections of short stories emerged. It even got to a point that Doyle himself was sick of his creation, writing to his mother in 1891: "I think of slaying Holmes... and winding him up for good and all. He takes my mind from better things." His mother – inadvertently representing the voices of fiction fans the world over – was outraged. 

So Doyle turned to financial incentive in lieu of creative stasis, urging publishers to cough up for more Holmes stories. Such was their hunger that Doyle ended up being very well-paid indeed – and Holmes and Watson defied the death he had sent them to, and ended up retiring instead. 

But which of the famous tales to begin with? Here's our take on the best way to navigate the Sherlock Holmes stories.

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