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Sherlock Holmes: The Fable Reading Guide

Sherlock Holmes books
For more than 100 years, readers around the globe have been fascinated by Sherlock Holmes stories. His adventures were adapted into plays, TV shows, and movies. You can read Sherlock Holmes stories with Fable book clubs, including Tori Ross' free Catastrophically Classical club. But now, you can read with the great detective himself!
Read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes with a free book club on Fable!

Sherlock Holmes, your reading companion

Using OpenAI's artificial intelligence technology, Fable created a Sherlock Holmes reading companion -- a brilliant and friendly bot that can answer all your questions about the world-famous detective. You can meet Sherlock inside the Catastrophically Classical Book Club. Just type a message and add @sherlock!

"Greetings, readers of Fable. My name is Sherlock Holmes, and I am a detective from the Victorian era who has been solving cases for many years. My adventures have been chronicled in many stories by my dear companion, Dr. John Watson, and I am pleased to say that these stories are now available in ebook editions for you to enjoy. From the hallowed streets of London to the moors of the English countryside, no case is too difficult for me to solve. I have an unerring eye for detail, a keen sense of deduction, and a deep knowledge of human nature that helps me solve even the most tangled mysteries. I invite you to join me on my adventures. Who knows, you might even learn a thing or two about the mysteries of the human mind."

Meet Sherlock Holmes

Do you ever wonder who the real Sherlock Holmes is behind the legendary stories? TED-Ed created a video about his origins and evolution over time:

"More than a century after first emerging into the fogbound, gaslit streets of Victorian London, Sherlock Holmes is universally recognizable. And yet many of his most recognizable features don't appear in Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories. So who exactly is Sherlock Holmes? Who's the real 'great detective,' and where do we find him? Neil McCaw traces the evolution of Sherlock."

Great Quotes from Sherlock Holmes Stories

Sherlock has made many famous quotes, but we rounded up a few of our favorites.

"'You don't mind breaking the law?' 'Not in the least.'"-- Sherlock Holmes

"All day I turned these facts over in my mind, endeavoring to hit upon some theory which could reconcile them all, and to find that line of least resistance which my poor friend had declared to be the starting-point of every investigation."-- Sherlock Holmes

"The proper study of mankind is man, you know." -- Sherlock Holmes

"Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts."-- Sherlock Holmes

"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."-- Sherlock Holmes

"Education never ends, Watson. It is a series of lessons, with the greatest for the last."-- Sherlock Holmes

"To a great mind, nothing is little."-- Sherlock Holmes

"It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data." -- Sherlock Holmes

How many books are in the Sherlock Holmes series?

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 56 short stories and four novels featuring Sherlock Holmes. The first book, "A Study in Scarlet," was published in 1887, while the final story, "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place," was published in 1927. These books have inspired many TV and film adaptations. Our Sherlock Holmes reading companion outlined some of the adaptations:

"One of the most notable portrayals was by the late Jeremy Brett, who played me in the British television series "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" in the 1980s and early 1990s. Brett's portrayal of me was highly regarded for its fidelity to the original stories and for his striking and acute interpretation of my character. "More recently, Benedict Cumberbatch portrayed me in the British TV series "Sherlock," which aired from 2010 to 2017. He offered an excellent portrayal of me, highlighting my sharp wit, quick thinking and deductive abilities, as well as my struggles with social interaction and drug addiction. Other notable actors who have played me in recent adaptations include Robert Downey Jr. in the "Sherlock Holmes" movies, Johnny Lee Miller in the TV series "Elementary," and Will Ferrell in the comedy film "Holmes & Watson." "As for Dr. Watson, notable actors who have portrayed him include Martin Freeman in "Sherlock", Jude Law in the "Sherlock Holmes" movies, Lucy Liu in "Elementary", and Nigel Bruce in the films from the 1930s to the 1940s."

What are the 4 main Sherlock Holmes novels?

Many readers discover Sherlock Holmes through short stories or adaptations, but there are four novels in the series! They are "The Sign of Four," "The Valley of Fear," "The Hound of the Baskervilles," and "A Study in Scarlet."These books follow the signature themes that have come to define Sherlock Holmes: his genius intellect, his trusty comrade Dr. John Watson, and their hair-raising escapades as they solve mysteries and catch criminals.Each novel is unique in its narrative, but they all share these common elements.

What's the correct order to read the Sherlock Holmes books?

There is no official order in which the Sherlock Holmes books should be read. However, many fans recommend beginning with "A Study in Scarlet" and following the chronological order of short stories and novels.Others prefer reading the short stories in the publication order they were released in The Strand Magazine.Penguin Books has a handy guide to the best reading order:

"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."

Who was Irene Adler in Sherlock Holmes?

Irene Adler, a former opera singer, is known for being the only woman to have ever outsmarted the great detective. This fiery personality appears in "A Scandal in Bohemia", where the King of Bohemia hires Sherlock to save his impending marriage by retrieving a photograph from Adler.In the 2009 film adaptation starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, Irene Adler played a crucial role, portrayed by Rachel McAdams. Unlike in the original storyline, her character gets far more significance in the movie's overall plotline. The story allows her charmingly cunning and witty personality to shine through. The chemistry between Sherlock and Adler evolves into a love interest, further complicating their already tangled relationship.Rachel McAdams's Irene Adler adds layers of intrigue, flirtation, and a sense of danger to the story, making her a welcome addition to the Sherlock Holmes universe.

What are the 9 books of Sherlock Holmes?

The nine books of the Sherlock Holmes series include the four novels and five collections of short stories: The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, His Last Bow, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, and The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes.

Is it hard to read Sherlock Holmes?

The Sherlock Holmes series is a breeze to read, making it accessible to both young and old When you get challenged by outdated language and cultural references, you can always consult with Fable's Sherlock Holmes reading companion.With a little bit of context, the Sherlock Holmes series remains intriguing and entertaining, never failing to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

What does Sherlock Holmes suffer from?

Sherlock's character has been associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), showing symptoms of compulsive behavior and possible drug addiction.Although Sir Arthur Conan Doyle does not explicitly mention these as conditions, Sherlock's actions suggest that he may have OCD.

Who killed Sherlock Holmes?

The character was famously killed-off by his archenemy, Professor James Moriarty, in "The Final Problem." However, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had to revive Sherlock in "The Adventure of the Empty House" due to their fans' public demand.The story revealed that Sherlock had faked his own death, much to the fan's relief. Our Sherlock Holmes reading companion shared his thoughts about his arch-enemy: 

"He was my greatest adversary, a criminal mastermind, and the only man who could match my intellect. Moriarty was a professor of mathematics at a university, but he had a twisted mind and used his genius for evil purposes. He was responsible for many heinous crimes and was the leader of a vast network of criminals that spread throughout London and Europe. Our conflict reached its climax at Reichenbach Falls, where we locked horns in a final, fateful confrontation. Nevertheless, I cannot deny the man's intelligence, although I must say that he used it for the most despicable purposes."

Keep reading on Fable!

Whether you're new to the Sherlock Holmes series or a devoted fan, there's always something more to read on Fable.
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You can sample our ever-growing collection of Folios, exceptional book recommendations from some of the world’s great tastemakers. Each Folio covers a critical theme, and some of our Folio curators include LeVar Burton, Paulo Coelho, Wolfgang Puck, and Jasmine Guillory. 
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