I am fairly familiar with all forms of secret writings [DANC]

Some of you may have been perplexed by the four character references that I usually put at the end of quotations from “the Canon”.

“The Canon”, by the way, is the term used to refer to the collection of sixty cases published on my behalf by Arthur Conan Doyle. In 1911, the Reverend Ronald A Knox, an Anglican priest, published an essay entitled “Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes”. The article was a parody of a school of German Biblical criticism. He subjected my stories about Holmes to the same kind of “form criticism” as German theologians used on the Bible. He was the first to call the stories the “Canon” or “Sacred Writings” and the article is considered the beginning of the scholarship related to the sixty stories.

There are sixty works in all – four novels and fifty-six short stories. The fifty six short stories, after their serialisation in The Strand Magazine, were published in collections, namely:

  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  • The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
  • The Return of Sherlock Holmes
  • His Last Bow
  • The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

Just for completeness, the novels are:

  • A Study In Scarlet
  • The Sign of Four
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • The Valley of Fear

Jay Finley Christ devised a set of four-character abbreviations to conveniently refer to each of the sixty stories. Jay Finley Christ was a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, an organisation of enthusiasts considered the pre-eminent Sherlockian group in the United States.

Here is a full list of these abbreviations:

ABBE Abbey Grange
BERY Beryl Coronet
BLAC Black Pete
BLAN Blanched Soldier
BLUE Blue Carbuncle
BOSC Boscombe Valley Mystery
BRUC Bruce-Partington Plans
CARD Cardboard Box
CHAS Charles Augustus Milverton
COPP Copper Beeches
CREE Creeping Man
CROO Crooked Man
DANC Dancing Men
DEVI Devil's Foot
DYIN Dying Detective
EMPT Empty House
ENGR Engineer's Thumb
FINA Final Problem
FIVE Five Orange Pips
GLOR Gloria Scot
GOLD Golden Pince-Nez
GREE Greek Interpreter
HOUN Hound of the Baskervilles
IDEN Case of Identity
ILLU Illustrious Client
LADY Lady Frances Carfax
LAST His Last Bow
LION Lion's Mane
MAZA Mazarin Stone
MISS Missing Three-Quarter
MUSG Musgrave Ritual
NAVA Naval Treaty
NOBL Noble Bachelor
NORW Norwood Builder
PRIO Priory School
REDC Red Circle
REDH Red-Headed League
REIG Reigate Squires (Puzzle)
RESI Resident Patient
RETI Retired Colourman
SCAN Scandal in Bohemia
SECO Second Stain
SHOS Shoscombe Old Place
SIGN Sign of the Four
SILV Silver Blaze
SIXN Six Napoleons
SOLI Solitary Cyclist
SPEC Speckled Band
STOC Stockbroker's Clerk
STUD Study In Scarlet
SUSS Sussex Vampire
THOR Thor Bridge
3GAB Three Gables
3GAR Three Garridebs
3STU Three Students
TWIS Man with the Twisted Lip
VALL Valley of Fear
VEIL Veiled Lodger
WIST Wisteria Lodge
YELL Yellow Face


2 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    I have written a short monograph on the subject of Dr. Jay Finley Christ's abbreviations entitled "TAO ABBR," which may be found here: http://mcmurdoscamp.wordpress.com/trifling-monographs/tao-abbr-christs-abbreviations-explained/

    Keith Albrandt

  2. The Editor says:

    Thank you. Most illuminating. I has wondered about CHAS, 3GAB, 3GAR and 3STU and why not 5ORA instead of FIVE!

    John H Watson MD

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