Sherlockian.Net: The Sign of the Four

The Thames takes a fortune, Watson takes a wife and Holmes takes to the needle. #60in60

Basic information

Abbreviation (J. F. Christ, 1947): SIGN
Word length (C. E. Lauterbach, 1960): 43,372
First published: Lippincott's Magazine, February 1890. First book edition: Spencer Blackett, 1890. First American edition: P. F. Collier, 1891 (a piracy).

A note about the title

[ACD's manuscript of SIGN] The original manuscript uses "The Sign of the Four" (right), but that's not Arthur Conan Doyle's writing, so who knows how authoritative it is. Lippincott's magazine followed that reading, but the early book editions went with The Sign of the Four. Modern editions vary: Doubleday uses the four-word title, Oxford the five-word title.

Text available on-line


    Links of interest

  • Story summary from McMurdo's Camp
  • Text in Gregg shorthand
  • Crime Scene, by Thomas R. Hanratty
  • 'Subtext' from
  • "Simple," I ejaculated.
  • Sherlock Holmes in India
  • The Red Fort at Agra
  • Smithsonian Magazine, Marvels of the Mughals, including the Red Fort at Agra
  • The Indian Mutiny
  • Holmes and Attention Deficit Disorder in SIGN
  • Oscar Wilde Overview
  • Britannica: Andaman Islands, Creosote, Prosthesis

    Redmond's Delicate Question

    First half: "Our quest does not appear to take us to very fashionable regions," says Sherlock Holmes. This tale is -- unlike many others in the Canon -- essentially about the middle class and the suburbs, rather than the older parts of London with which Sherlock Holmes is usually associated. What attitudes does it take?

    Second half: "It is a romance!" cried Mrs. Forrester. "An injured lady, half a million in treasure, a black cannibal, and a wooden-legged ruffian." Is The Sign of the Four so well-loved by readers of Sherlock Holmes because of these exotic elements, or in spite of them?

    "The View Halloa", by Rosemary Michaud
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