The first twelve of the fifty-six Sherlock Holmes short stories (actually two groups of six each) were collected after their first appearance in The Strand Magazine and published in volume form. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is the first of five collections of the stories, which together with the four novels comprise the basic Holmes canon. (Conan Doyle also experimented with dramatization, most of which is lost.).
Perhaps one of the most epoch making events in the enduring history of Sherlock Holmes was the union of the author, the illustrator Sidney Paget, and The Strand Magazine. This union is important for a number of reasons. Critic J. Randolph Cox notes that Conan Doyle was the first to retain the same characters in a series of short story appearances in a magazine, thus retaining loyal or interested readers, while avoiding the problem of lost reader interest if a person missed an installment of a serialized novel. Coupled with this innovation were the Paget illustrations, the single most defining force in the visual image of the famous character.
In the fourth Sherlock Holmes story, "The Boscombe Valley Mystery," Sidney Paget introduced the costume which was to epitomize Sherlock Holmes. The illustration shown is the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes in a deerstalker cap and Inverness coat. Paget derived the illustration from Dr. Watson's description of a "long grey travelling cloak, and close-fitting cloth cap."
The first volume of Sherlock Holmes short stories as issued in the United States is considerably less elegant than the first English edition, with its larger page size, elegant binding, and over 100 Sidney Paget illustrations in text. The American edition reproduces sixteen Paget illustrations on inserted plates.
One page typed carbon of an agreement for Appleton to publish fifteen of Conan Doyle's books, including three Sherlock Holmes volumes. This contract for a group of the author's works to be published in America indicates how well established Conan Doyle had become as an author of popular fiction. The romance of tales set in Victorian and later Edwardian London and its environs combined to further enhance the appeal of the tales for readers outside of England.
Bloomington by Gaslight: