Handwritten Manuscript of Sherlock Holmes Novel Expected to Sell for $1.2 Million

Sotheby’s will offer a handwritten manuscript of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novel The Sign of Four for sale at an upcoming auction in June 2024. The manuscript, considered the “most valuable Conan Doyle item ever offered at auction”, is expected to fetch a price of $1.2 million.

According to Doyle’s letters, which will also be auctioned off, he and author Oscar Wilde were invited for dinner by Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine editor J.M Stoddart in the summer of 1889. By the time the dinner concluded, Doyle had committed to writing a sequel to the first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet, while Oscar Wilde also agreed to write a novel that would later turn out to be The Picture of Dorian Gray.

The Sign of Four was first published in the February 1890 edition of Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine before being released in the book form in October of the same year.

The handwritten manuscript of the novel that will be up for auction, is the only one in existence. It is described as “exceptionally clean” and only features edits to Americanize spellings as well as several crossed-out words, which was done by Doyle himself as he made slight alterations to the written piece.

“Whether Doyle spent a lot of time just thinking out in his mind before he put the words down… but it seems to have sprung almost fully formed, from his mind to his pen,” Selby Kiffer, the auction house’s international senior specialist for books and manuscripts, told CNN.

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