A Sherlock Holmes story written by Arthur Conan Doyle for a souvenir to raise funds to repair a bridge in Scotland in 1904 has been discovered after lying in a resident’s attic for nearly 50 years, sending a frisson of excitement among lovers of the iconic detective.
The story, titled Sherlock Homes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, by deduction, the Brig Bazaar, was found by Walter Elliot, 80, a woodcutter in the town of Selkirk.
Elliot discovered it under a pile of books in his attic, reports from Scotland said.
The story, over 1,300 words, was included in the 48-page souvenir of short stories called Book o’ the Brig.
It was put together by locals to raise money to replace a bridge over the Ettrick river that had been destroyed by floods in 1902. A Scot, Conan Doyle (died 1930) had agreed to contribute a story.
Elliot, a retired woodcutter, found the pamphlet tied up with string while he was clearing out his attic. He told the Daily Mail that he could not remember buying the book.
He said, “It was a varied book with lots of bits and pieces and stories. I have no idea how many they made and sold. I’ve had this book for about 40 or 50 years.
Usually people would throw out these books or sell them off. It has been in my family for quite a while now.”
Elliot added, “He (Doyle) really must have thought enough of the town to come down and take part and contribute a story to the book. It’s a great little story,” he added.
Sarah Dunnigan, a senior lecturer in English literature at the University of Edinburgh, said, “This seems like a really fun piece, it’s self-parodic, takes a playful jibe at journalists and wittily compresses Scottish Borders history in an affectionate tribute to Selkirk — all whilst leaving the reader wondering where both the story, and Watson, are heading.”