The “Best” Sherlock Holmes Stories

A Curious Collection of Dates: Through the Year with Sherlock Holmes by Leah Guinn (JHWS “Amber”) and Jaime N Mahoney (JHWS “Tressa”), reminds us that the June 1927 issue of The Strand Magazine included the results of a contest in the preceding March issue: “Which are the best Sherlock Holmes Stories?”

The winner of the contest was the one who came the closest to matching a list compiled by Arthur Conan Doyle. An accompanying article gave Doyle’s reasons for choosing each story, though he evidently couldn’t resist “grousing a bit that he had had to reread them all.”

The contest winner, RT Norman, matched 10 of the 12 titles, receiving a copy of Doyle’s Memories and Adventures and £100. (Eric W Nye’s Pounds Sterling to Dollars: Historical Conversion of Currency, tells us that would be worth $8,714.79 USD today, which our friends at Google say equals £6,771.40 GBP.)

Arthur Conan Doyle’s List of the Best Sherlock Holmes Stories

  1. The Specked Band
  2. The Red Headed League
  3. The Dancing Men
  4. The Final Problem
  5. A Scandal in Bohemia
  6. The Empty House
  7. The Five Orange Pips
  8. The Second Stain
  9. The Devils Foot
  10. The Priory School
  11. The Musgrave Ritual
  12. The Reigate Squires

A Curious Collection of Dates summarizes the reasoning behind the selections. For those interested in more on the subject, there’s The Baker Street Dozen, edited by Pj Doyle and EW McDiarmid, a collection of essays on the stories (plus “Silver Blaze”) from authors including Isaac Asimov, Richard Lancelyn Green, and our friend over at Sherlock Peoria, Brad Keefauver.

For even more consideration of which story is the best, and why, look no further than About Sixty: Why Every Sherlock Holmes Story is the Best, edited by Christopher Redmond (JHWS “Buster”) and including contributions from a number of our members. (Don’t miss our interview with “Buster” about the book!)