The Best of Sherlock Holmes


"The Red Circle" Manuscript Facsimile:
A Review of Mandate for Murder


Book cover for The Red Circle Manuscript Facsimile in Mandate for Murder

The manuscript for the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of the Red Circle" has an interesting history.  Originally entitled "The Adventure of the Bloomsbury Lodger" on its opening page, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle later crossed through the last words and inserted "Red Circle."  Five different members of The Baker Street Irregulars have owned the manuscript, and its opening page has been reproduced in at least nine publications.  Now the complete "Red Circle" manuscript is available in facsimile as part of the BSI Manuscript Series.



Mandate for Murder is edited, with an introduction, by Roy Pilot, Gianluca Salvatori, and Enrico Solito.  It includes a facsimile of "The Red Circle" manuscript, a transcription with extensive annotation, and related essays.  The facsimile images are reduced to 7.0 x 4.5 inches and show the rectos of the manuscript's 23 text pages and its autograph title page.


Review of "The Red Circle" Facsimile


Mandate for Murder is the fifth volume in The Baker Street Irregulars Manuscript Series.  Like the others, this hardcover book includes a manuscript reproduction, a transcription, and essays on various aspects of the story.  The rectos-only reproductions of the autograph title page and 23 text pages appear consecutively on pages 3-26.  These facsimiles are reduced to 7.0 x 4.5 inches and almost always display the full page margins.  A transcription follows on pages 27-49, and notes for transcription appear on pages 51-86.


The transcription is given line-for-line and page-for-page from the manuscript.  Thus the opening page of text is reproduced on the book's page 4, and its transcription appears entirely on page 27.  Matching pages and lines like this simplifies referring between the facsimile and the transcription.  Another Conan Doyle facsimile, The Horror of the Heights, went a step further and placed the facsimile and transcription on facing pages, thus providing the optimal reading experience.


In addition to transcribing the text, the Weller's provide annotations about the manuscript transcription at the line level.  This certainly provides the most detailed analysis and re-construction of a manuscript in the BSI Manuscript Series so far.  However, by including notes on punctuation changes and minor spelling variations, the annotations do become very dense.  As someone interested in textual variants I find this useful, but a more casual reader might be overwhelmed by the details.  The annotators include a short narrative introduction to the notes which may appeal to a wider audience.  A future refinement might be to offer a somewhat longer narrative introduction that highlighted the most significant changes in the text.  Readers should also be aware that the annotations apply to the text of the manuscript; for story annotations they will need to refer to one of Klinger's Annotated volumes or the Oxford Sherlock Holmes.




Publication Details

Type of material: Hardcover book

Title: Mandate for Murder (manuscript facsimile)

Author (story): Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Author (volume): Edited, with an introduction by Roy Pilot, Gianluca Salvatori, and Enrico Solito

Author (series): Leslie S. Klinger

Publisher: The Baker Street Irregulars in cooperation with the Lilly Library of Indiana University

Year: 2006

ISBN: 0-9648788-8-7

Pages: 173

Price: US$35.00


This book is a must-buy for anyone interested in Conan Doyle's original conception and construction of his Sherlock Holmes stories.  It's handsomely produced and contains a wealth of information for the Conan Doyle scholar and the Sherlockian enthusiast.  Mandate for Murder is available on the Baker Street Journal Manuscript Series website page.



Online Photos of "The Red Circle" Manuscript


The Lilly Library of Indiana University holds the original autograph manuscript for "The Adventure of the Red Circle."  In the summer of 2000 it held an exhibition called "Bloomington by Gaslight: Sherlock Holmes in the Lilly Library." The online version of that exhibition included reproductions of both the opening and closing text pages from "The Red Circle" manuscript.


Exhibition home page


Opening page of manuscript


Closing page of manuscript


These photographs include a little more of the margins and surrounding material than can be seen in the printed facsimile, and they are in color.



Other "Red Circle" Reproductions


Several pages from "The Red Circle" manuscript have been reproduced elsewhere in varying clarity and size.  The opening and closing pages of text are available as online photos from the Lilly Library.  The opening page, showing the revised story title, has appeared in at least nine publications.  Other pages with recorded reproductions include the title page and part of page 11.  The full set of recorded reproductions from "The Red Circle" manuscript can be found in the Checklist of Facsimiles of the Sherlock Holmes Stories.





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