I must admit, Watson, that you have some power of selection [ABBE]

In 1927, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was asked to select what he regarded as his favourite Sherlock Holmes stories.

His list, in descending order of merit, was:

  1. The Speckled Band
  2. The Red-Headed League
  3. The Dancing Men
  4. The Final Problem
  5. A Scandal in Bohemia
  6. The Empty House
  7. The Five Orange Pips
  8. The Second Stain
  9. The Devil’s Foot
  10. The Priory School
  11. The Musgrave Ritual
  12. The Reigate Squires

Later, he considered the stories he wrote after 1927 and added seven more stories, again in descending order of merit:

  1. Silver Blaze
  2. The Bruce-Partington Plans
  3. The Crooked Man
  4. The Man with the Twisted Lip
  5. The Greek Interpreter
  6. The Resident Patient
  7. The Naval Treaty

The Strand Magazine challenged its readers to guess which of his Sherlock Holmes stories Sir Arthur rated as his very best. He said that when this competition was first mooted, he went into it in a most light-hearted way, thinking that it would be the easiest thing in the world to pick out the twelve best of the Holmes stories. But in practice he found that it was much more serious a task.

A Mr R. T. Newman of Spring Hill, Wellingborough, won £100 for successfully guessing ten of the twelve stories correctly.

Sir Arthur revealed his choice and, in his own inimitable way, explained his reasoning in an article for the magazine which has been published, along with the twelve stories, together for the first time in The Favourite Sherlock Holmes Stories.

This book, with Case Notes by Professor Robert Giddings of Bournemouth University and the twelve stories listed above, is a useful introduction covering Holmes’s cases. There appears to be a misprint in the reproduction of Conan Doyle’s explanation of “How I Made My List” as it refers to the first six of the list being republished in “The Grand Magazine” when it should be “The Strand Magazine”.

The Case Notes by Professor Giddings are bang up to date, covering the latest incarnation of Holmes and myself on the silver screen portrayed by Robert Downey Jnr and Jude Law. I think I am more flattered by my portrayal than Holmes!

Perhaps I should consider what my favourite Holmes stories would be?

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