The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of twelve stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, featuring his famous detective and illustrated by Sidney Paget. These are the first of the Sherlock Holmes short stories, originally published as single stories in the Strand Magazine from July 1891 to June 1892. The book was published in England on October 14, 1892 by George Newnes Ltd and in a US Edition on October 15 by Harper. (From
Curriculet Details
81 Questions
115 Annotations
3 Quizzes

In this online curriculet written for 8th grade students, embedded annotations include topics such point of view and the mystery template of plot structure, and give background information on Victorian. references. Interactive videos cover subjects such as verbal irony and foreshadowing. Questions throughout the text prompt thinking on literal and inferential text evidence, vocabulary in context, and the interaction of plot elements.

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Although the vocabulary and the old-fashioned references can be difficult to understand, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used a plot structure, or template, for each of his stories. If you understand the template, it will be much easier to understand the story. Consider the following: EXPOSITION - A client will introduce a case to Sherlock, laying out the fact as he or she seems them. Sherlock will usually astonish the client by drawing some conclusion about him or her by using clues. RISING ACTION - Sherlock gathers clues and asks seemingly irrelevant questions which the readers will not understand until later. CLIMAX - Sherlock solves the mystery. FALLING ACTION - Consequences of the mystery are explained. RESOLUTION - Characters return to their normal lives, or make new lives for themselves based on new circumstances.  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #4

According to Watson, what is Holmes's point of view on Irene Adler? 
The stories of Sherlock Holmes are told in first-person narration by the character of Dr. John Watson. Because Watson is not the central character, he is called a peripheral narrator. Through Watson's observations of Holmes, and his reporting of other characters' actions and dialouge, you are able to gain access to the points of view of other characters as well. 
At the time this story was written, cocaine was a legal drug in England, although it was still considered to be a bad habit. 
What is revealed about Holmes's character in this speech?  
Holmes values gathering data before making theories. Pay attention to how logic and reason are developed as themes throughout all of the Sherlock Holmes stories. 
Here is an illustration by artist, Sidney Paget, from the original publication of this story. Compare the illustration of this character to the description in the following paragraph.  (This annotation contains a link)
Here begins the EXPOSITION of the story with the client explaining the case to Holmes and Watson. Pay attention to what the client's problem is, and how he would like it resolved. 
What do Holmes's actions suggest about him? 
Summarize the King's problem. 
The story began with Watson suggesting that Holmes admires Irene above all other women. This paragraph contains text evidence to explain what makes Irene so special. 
The term "carte blanche" literally means "blank document." The king is is suggesting the Holmes has full discretion to charge whatever amount of money he sees fit. 
A cabinet card photograph gets its name from its size. Measuring 4 inches by 6 inches, cabinet photographs were thought to be the perfect size to display on a cabinet. By asking if it is a cabinet photograph, Holmes is trying to determine its size. 

Homework #5

In your own words, what is Watson's point of view about Holmes? 
The rising action of the plot is revealed in Holmes's description of how he spent his morning. 
An ostler is a person who looks after horses. Another name for an ostler is a groom. When Holmes disguised himself as a drunken groom, he was pretending to be someone who looks after horses. 
This is a picture of a hansom cab. Other types of wheeled, horse-drawn vehicles that will appear in this text are landaus and broughams.  (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following best summarizes how Holmes spent his morning? 
In the following paragraphs, Holmes is describing to Watson the plan he has developed for tracking down the photograph in Irene Adler's possession. Think back to the plot template at the beginning of the story -- this is the point in the rising action where Sherlock Holmes has a plan that you, the reader, do not fully understand yet. What is Holmes asking Watson to do and why? 
Here is what Sherlock Holmes might have looked like disguised at the clergyman.  (This annotation contains a link)
Although Holmes has a plan in mind, the reader does not have access to his point of view. In regards to Holmes's plan, the reader understands 
After throwing the smoke-rocket into the room, Watson flees the scene. Read on to hear what happened next from Holmes's point of view as revealed in dialogue. 
"...Accomplice...engaged for the evening..." means that the people on the street were hired by Holmes to help him with this plan. 
How did Holmes get Irene Adler to show him where the photograph was hidden? 
Make a prediction about who the slim male youth really is. 

Homework #6

The contents of the letter that Holmes is about to read will reveal the climax of the story.  
Which of the following is revealed in Irene's letter? 
Holmes could have asked for any reward from the King. What can you infer about why Holmes asked for Irene Adler's photograph? 

Homework #8

Here is an illustration of what Jabez Wilson might look like. According to Watson, his most striking feature is his "blazing red hair."  (This annotation contains an image)
This means "Everything unknown is taken as grand." Holmes suggests that people are overly impressed at his cleverness until he explains how simple his deductions really are. 
What part of the plot will be revealed in Jabez Wilson's upcoming monologue? 
List three facts about Vincent Spaulding. 
Besides being a red-head, the most important requirement of the position is that Jabez Wilson must 
Foolscap is a particular size of writing paper. 
Here is an illustration of what Holmes might look like as he considers the "three pipe problem." What can you infer about what Holmes is thinking and feeling? (This annotation contains an image)
What does Watson conclude about Holmes's nature? 
This paragraph has some very long sentences. Read slowly, and reread if necessary. Try to visualize what Watson is describing and what you can conclude about Holmes. 
Scotland Yard is the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service. Why might Holmes be involving the police if no crime as been committed yet? 
Rubber is a card game that involves betting. Mr. Merryweather is disappointed that he will miss playing his card game, although Holmes assures him that the stakes are higher tonight than in a card game. 
"Partie carree" means a party of four people. 
Select three words or phrases from these paragraphs that contribute to a suspenseful tone. 
Here is an illustration of what Holmes may have looked like as he apprehended John Clay at the story's climax. You can see from the picture how Clay tunneled up from the ground. (This annotation contains an image)
As you read this paragraph, pay attention how the clues Holmes used to predict the bank robbery and the clues tie in with Jabez Wilson's story. 
Summarize the assistant's motives for encouraging Jabez Wilson to join the Red-Headed League. 
This phrase translates to "The work of an individual man is nothing - the work of mankind is everything." What does Holmes mean when he says this? 

Homework #10

Which of the following summarizes Holmes's position? 
"Oscillation" means regularly moving from one position to another. Because the woman is shifting around on the sidewalk, Holmes can tell she is coming to discuss an "affaire de coeur," or a matter of the heart. 
Once again, Holmes is surprising his client by immediately being able to tell that she wears glasses, and that she types. As you read on, pay attention to why he made those conclusions. 
Contrast Miss Sutherland's point of view about socializing with that of her stepfather. 
As Miss Sutherland is describing her relationship with Hosmer Angel, you should be looking for clues, as Sherlock Holmes is doing. 
Cite three pieces of text evidence that describe Hosmer Angel and Miss Sutherland's relationship with him. 
Here is an illustration of what Miss Sutherland might have looked like as she waited for her fiance to exit the cab. The mystery has now been revealed - what happened to Hosmer Angel?  (This annotation contains a link)
Think back to the things that Miss Sutherland explained to Holmes and Watson. As you read on, pay attention to what conclusions Holmes was able to draw from the information that Miss Sutherland provided. 
How did Holmes deduce that Miss Sutherland is a typist? 
Denouement refers to the the final part of a narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved. Once again, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is relying heavily on the mystery template.  (This annotation contains an image)
Summarize the trick that Mr. Windibank played on his stepdaughter, including his reasons for doing it. 
Here is an illustration of Mr. Windibanks running from the room as Holmes threatens to beat him with a riding crop. Although Mr. Windibanks did not commit any crime, Holmes's reaction demonstrates his commitment to justice, which is a theme in the Sherlock Holmes stories.  (This annotation contains a link)
Hafiz was a Persian philosopher, and Horace was a Roman poet. Holmes is giving credit to both as being equally wise as he uses the Persian saying to justify not telling Miss Sutherland the true outcome of the case. 

Homework #12

Here is Sidney Paget's illustration of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson riding the carriage. Notice the outfit that Sherlock is wearing - a deerstalker hat and an Inverness coat with flaps on the back. This costume represents the classic image of Sherlock Holmes and has been repeated over and over in Sherlock Holmes images, movies and TV shows. Sidney Paget is solely responsible for this iconic image, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never specifies the type of hat or coat Sherlock Holmes wore.  (This annotation contains an image)
If something is singular, it is uncommon or peculiar. Strange or odd things make easy clues, so Holmes is suggesting that the more simple a case seems, the more difficult it is to solve. 
Which of the following is true about Mr. Turner and Mr. McCarthy? 
In this story, "pool" refers to a natural body of water, like a lake or a pond. Here is a picture of what the Boscombe Pool might have looked like.  (This annotation contains an image)
Summarize the main facts of the case as explained in this paragraph. 
In mysteries, the author might be using the literary device of a "red herring" when it seems that all clues point to one suspect. A red herring is something that misleads or distracts from relevant information and leads readers to draw a false conclusion. As you read on, pay attention to whether McCarthy's son is the guilty party, or if he is a red herring. 
Mr. Lestrade is a detective from Scotland Yard who has appeared in several of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's previous stories. Lestrade is a foil to Sherlock Holmes. A foil serves to contrast with the qualities of the other character to highlight certain qualities of the other character. As you read on, think about what quality is being highlighted that contrasts with Holmes. 
The author is using the structure of a newspaper article to set forth the exposition of the story. As you read the article, look for the clues that lead Holmes to believe that James McCarthy is innocent. 
All of the following are revealed in James McCarthy's statement EXCEPT 
If you look at this image of a skull, you can see why Watson believes McCarthy was hit from behind. Consider whether this evidence will work in James McCarthy's favor. (This annotation contains an image)
In the next few paragraphs, Holmes will go looking for clues. Pay attention as the settings change to what he discovers at each setting. 
Describe Holme's method for finding clues. 
"Nous verrons" is French for "we shall see." 
From this sentence, you can conclude that Lestrade is 
The word decrepitude means 
The Assizes were the regional courts of Great Brittain during this time period. 
This is the name that McCarthy must have cried out at the moment of his death. 
What was Turner's motive for murdering McCarthy? 
Why didn't Holmes immediately turn Turner into the police? 
Quiz 1 

Homework #14

The equinox is the time of year in both the fall and spring where the hours of day and night are approximately equal. "Equinoctial gales" are windy storms that would occur during this time. This sentence is the author's way of saying, "It was a dark, and stormy night." How does the description of the storms set a mood for the rest of the story? 
Pince-nez is a style of eyewear that is supported without earpieces by pinching the nose.  (This annotation contains an image)
Holmes is making an allusion to a previous case.  Who is the one woman who beat him? 
How would you characterize Uncle Elias? 
According to this passage, John's uncle lived in the United States and fought for the South in the Civil War. He left the United States because he did not like that government "extended the franchise," or granted the right to vote to Black Americans. 
Pips are seeds. (This annotation contains an image)
After receiving the mysterious letter, Uncle Elias 
Summarize how John Openshaw's uncle and father each died. 
Based on what you know Holmes's opinion of the police to be, the word imbecility  probably means 
Holmes means that people should 
The Ku Klux Klan was and is a real organization, however Sir Arthur Conan Doyle does fictionalize it somewhat. Click here to watch a short video on the history of the KKK.  (This annotation contains a link)
Based on the brief video you watched, is this sentence fictionalized or historically accurate? Explain. 
How does this ending support the theme of justice? 

Homework #16

Opium is an extremely addictive drug. smoked in long pipes, that was popular in the 19th century. Legal in 19th century England, opium was sold in opium dens. Today, opium is processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade. 
Select three words or phrases that contribute to the depressing mood of the description of the opium den. 
This is the last you will hear of Isa Whitney. Think about why Sir Arthur Conan Doyle may have included his character at the beginning of the story. Might his character represent a theme about how drug addiction ruins lives? 
Once again, the author is clearly signaling to you that the exposition is about to begin. Pay close attention the details of Neville St. Claire and the facts of the mystery. 
Which of the following happened first? 
Here is an illustrate of Hugh Boone. He sells wax vests, which are a type of match. (This annotation contains an image)
Summarize Holmes's working hypothesis. 
In this sentence, the word "hand" refers to handwriting, not the body part. 
As a woman, Mrs. St. Claire's impression is that her husband is still alive.  Her impression is supported by all the following EXCEPT 
"An ounce of shag" is a type of tobacco used for hand-rolled cigarettes. This is not the first time that Sherlock has referred to a dependence on drugs or tobacco to stimulate his thinking. Consider how Sherlock's addictions are similar to or different from Isa Whitney's opium addiction as described in the beginning of the story. (This annotation contains an image)
As you read on, pay attention to what kind of "key" Holmes found in the bathroom and how it will solve the case. 
What was the "key" that Holmes took from the bathroom? 
In this passage, Neville St. Claire describes his motives for disguising himself as the beggar, Hugh Boone.  
A summary of how Neville St. Claire came to disguise himself as Hugh Boone would include all of the following EXCEPT 


A carbuncle is a gemstone.  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #18

What caused the man to drop his goose? 
This story follows the same plot template as the other stories, although in this case, the initial client at the beginning of the story is not a person at all but a hat. Pay attention to how Holmes came to be in possession of the hat, and what he can deduce about its owner. 
"Laid on" means provided or installed. In the 19th century, not all houses had gas lines installed and relied on other methods for light and heat. 
Holmes's long explanations of his deductions only make sense to share because Watson is an encouraging and admiring listener. It makes sense from a plot standpoint to have Watson as a sidekick, because Holmes would be unlikely to share his insights to a less enthusiastic companion. 
A crop is an organ in some birds that holds food prior to digestion. It can be seen in this diagram labeled by the number 2. (This annotation contains an image)
Initially, Holmes was indulging in the mystery of the lost hat as an intellectual exercise. Now that the Countess's precious gemstone has been found inside the goose, carried by the man who lost his hat, the mystery thickens. 
Summarize the newspaper story. 
What caused Henry Baker to call upon Sherlock Holmes? 
What makes Sherlock Holmes conclude that Henry Baker knew nothing of the carbuncle? 
Covent Garden is an open-aired market place in London that still exists today. (This annotation contains an image)
Which theme does this passage support? 
The word obstinate in this sentence could be replaced with  
The "Pink'un" is the name of a newspaper, printed on pink paper, that focuses on football news. Holmes infers that Breckinridge was a betting man and tricked him into showing Holmes his business records. 
The word scrupulous in this sentence could be replaced with 
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle helps his readers by telling you what you are about to learn. As you read on, pay attention to the details of Ryder's story. 
How did the blue carbuncle come to be inside the goose? 
Holmes's rivalry with the police is a reoccurring element in these stories. In which other story was a there a crime committed that Holmes did not report to the police? 
"Gaol" is an old-fashioned spelling of "jail." 


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said he believes this story to be his best one ever. 

Homework #20

This paragraph illustrates why Watson is the perfect narrator for the Sherlock Holmes stories. How would the story be different if the narrator weren't so admiring of Holmes? 
In regards to the case of Mrs. Farintosh and the opal tiara, Holmes says to Watson that is was before his time. Because Watson is the person who writes about Sherlock Holme's cases from his point of view, Mrs. Farintosh's case is untold and does not appear in any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. 
The word dissolute in this sentence means 
If Julia had lived to marry her fiancĂ©, which of the following would have happened? 
This story belongs to a sub-genre of mystery called the "locked room" mystery. American author and poet, Edgar Allan Poe wrote a locked room mystery called "The Murders of the Rue Morgue." Poe's detective, C. Auguste Dupin, was an inspiration to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as he created Sherlock Holmes. Click here to read more about Edgar Allan Poe's influence on the detective story. 
A crocus is a flowering plant in the iris family. Holmes is purposefully making small talk to Dr. Roylott to show that he isn't bothered, or perturbed, byt his rude entrance. 
Amiable means friendly, so Holmes is using verbal irony in his comment.  (This annotation contains a video)
A stile is a structure that allows humans to cross over a fence without letting livestock out.  (This annotation contains an image)
List three clues that Holmes discovers inside the bedrooms. 
Dr. William Palmer and Dr. William Pritchard were real-life doctors who were convicted of murder. 
Here is an illustration of what Holmes might have looked like as he lashed savagely into the darkness.  (This annotation contains an image)
The swamp adder was a creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. No such snake exists. 
Quiz 2 

Homework #22

En bloc means "as a unit," or "altogether." Watson believes the story is more interesting when read as a whole, instead of covered by a newspaper. Thinking about point of view, what elements would a newspaper story leave out that Watson would include? 
A hydraulic engineer is someone who works with the flow and movement of fluids, like water or sewage.  
You may have learned about hydraulics in your science class. It works by transferring energy by applying force on liquids.  (This annotation contains a video)
The word munificent in this sentence could be replaced with 
Fuller's-earth is a dry clay that has the ability to draw oils or impurities out of other liquids. 
According to Colonel Lysander Stark, why does he demand secrecy? 
Although Mr. Hatherley has doubts and concerns about the Colonel Lysander Stark, he agrees to take the job because 
Holmes is obviously interested in the description of the horse. What might he deduce from this clue? 
The German woman's character serves to foreshadow events to come.  (This annotation contains a video)
Select three words or phrases from this paragraph that contribute to the ominous mood. 
It is important to visualize what the hydraulic press looks like. It is large enough to stand inside, and the ceiling is the piston that comes down and generates the force. The men are standing inside the machine now. 
Here is an illustration of what Mr. Hatherly might look like as a struggles to find an exit while the ceiling comes down on him.  (This annotation contains an image)
If someone is inexorable, he or she is 
Coiners are people who make counterfeit coins out of a combination, or amalgam, or metals instead of silver. 

Homework #24

Mr. Lestrade is the detective introduced in "The Boscombe Valley Mystery." Think back to Holmes's impression of him, and make a prediction about what his role in this case might be. 
Holmes is describing St. Simon's titles and coat of arms to show that he is high ranking British nobility. 
The next few paragraphs quote newspaper articles that describe St. Simon's wedding arrangements, as well as the events following. As you read, try to pull out the most important facts to determine the problem in the story. 
A dowry is a sum of money given by a bride's parents to her husband upon her wedding. 
The newspaper articles explain all of the following EXCEPT 
Summarize the important events that took place after St. Simon's wedding. 
A danseuse is a female ballet dancer. 
The word impetuous in this sentence could be replaced with  
"Fait accompli" means "accomplished fact." Basically, Holmes is asking if St. Simon gets to keep the dowry since the marriage is a done deal, to which St. Simon answers that he hasn't checked.  
"Jumping a claim" literally means to seize someone else's land property - usually to claim mining rights on that land. In this case, Lady St. Simon might be referring to something else. 
The Serpentine is a lake in Hyde Park in London. When Lestrade says he was "dragging the Serpentine," he means he was searching the bottom of the lake for the missing lady's body. 
The note that was signed by F.H.M. was written on the back of a hotel bill. The prices are listed in English currency in shillings (s) and pennies (d). 
Which of the following is true in regards to Holmes and Lestrade? 
Holmes asks St. Simon if he would like to speak to Hattie (Doran) Moulton in private, to which St. Simon replies that there has been too much secrecy already and invites Holmes and Watson to stay. Consider the structural importance of keeping Holmes and Watson in the room: if Watson had left the room, the story would be left without a narrator and the reader would not have access to hearing Mrs. Moulton's story. 
Why did Hattie agree to marry St. Simon? 
Summarize the events of the wedding day and after. 
According to the text, how did Holmes know that the person who Hattie encountered in the pew of the church was an American? 

Homework #26

In order to understand the problem in the story, you have to understand a little about how banks work. Click here to watch a short video.  (This annotation contains a video)
This is over $6,000,000.00 in today's American dollars! 
Beryl is a type of gemstone and a coronet is a crown. Mr. Holder's bank client is offering to leave the crown as collateral, or proof, that he will repay the loan. 
Which of the following could NOT replace the word imprudence in this sentence? 
Mr. Holder's point of view about his son is that he is irresponsible with money and cannot be trusted. How might his point of view influence his judgment later in the story? Might he have a bias against his son that will drive the plot forward? 
Who else lives in Mr. Holder's house? 
What motive would Arthur have for stealing the coronet? 
How has Mr. Holder's point of view towards his son influenced the plot? 
The word tenable in this sentence means 
According to the text, Mary showed fear and not surprise at hearing Holmes's deduction. Why might she be afraid?  
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle builds suspense in his stories by simply not revealing the outcome until the very end. Although Watson knows that Holmes has solved the case, and is curious hear the results, Holmes keeps changing the topic. 
Summarize Holmes's conclusion of what happened that night. 
This is a famous quote from Sherlock Holmes.  Select one other story from this book that you have read so far and explain how this quote relates to that story as well. 

Homework #28

In the first few paragraphs, Holmes and Watson have a discussion about the types of cases that Watson chooses to chronicle and his style of writing. Although these paragraphs are difficult, try to pull out the main point that they are making. 
What is Holmes's point of view about the way in which Watson wrote his stories? 
With this comment, Holmes is basically saying that you, the reader, are too unobservant to understand these cases. What effect does this have on you as a reader? Does it impact your understanding of Holmes's character?  
A governess is a woman paid to educate children in their own home, instead of sending them to school. 
The word destitute could be replaced with  
A "faddy" person is someone who enjoys fads, crazes, or fashions for a brief period of time. What kind of fads does this family enjoy? 
What are three reasons that Holmes would not like his sister to take this job? 
Think about whether or not Miss Hunter will call upon Holmes again, and if so, why. 
Why does Holmes think that worse crimes are committed in the countryside than in the city? 
As you read on, check your predictions about why Miss Hunter called for Sherlock Holmes. 
Summarize Miss Hunter's concerns so far. 
A mastiff is a very large breed of dog. According to the text, how is this particular dog being raised?  (This annotation contains an image)
The word circumspect in this sentence probably means 
Select three words or phrases that contribute to the violent mood of this passage. 
Alice's father put a stop to her relationship because he didn't want her future husband to claim any right to the family money after her marriage. That happens to be the same motive of the stepfathers in the stories "A Case of Identity," and "The Case of the Speckled Band." What does this suggest about the rights of women in Victorian times? 
"Locus standi" means literally means "place to stand." In this sentence, Holmes means that their reason for being at the house was now questionable. After all, they broke into the house to save a woman who wasn't there anymore. 
Quiz 3