- Sherlock Holmes Among the Pirates: Copyright and Conan Doyle in America 1890-1930, and: Mother of Detective Fiction: The Life and Works of Anna Katharine Green, and: John Dickson Carr: A Critical Study, and: Eric Ambler, and: The Remarkable Case of Dorothy L. Sayers
Because there was no United States copyright law protecting foreign authors of books published before 1891, Arthur Conan Doyle made very little money from American editions of his first two Sherlock Holmes adventures, A Study in Scarlet (1887) and The Sign of the Four (1890). These two novels were not an immediate success, but the immense popularity of the short stories about Doyle's eccentric detective, published in 1891 in both England and America, rekindled interest in the earlier books. Numerous pirated editions of the two unprotected novels, most of them poorly printed on cheap paper, were brought out by American companies. Donald A. Redmond's purpose in Sherlock Holmes Among the Pirates is to trace the publishing history in America of Study and Sign up to 1930, the date of Doyle's death. Redmond focuses on Sign but reports similarities in the treatment of Study. Redmond first briefly reviews early copyright law and the Act of 1891. In one sense the unauthorized publication of foreign works was piracy; from another view-point it was simply a matter of sharp business practice. He then identifies all available editions, printings, and issues of both books and gives complete bibliographical descriptions of each. He discusses the changes, many typical of the practices of late nineteenth-century American publishers, that corrupted Doyle's text: extra paragraphing to stretch out the text; changes, omissions, additions, and transpositions of letters and words; surplus punctuation and capitals. These corruptions not only made a hash of grammar and syntax but also sometimes created strange readings as two examples from Sign show: "At the Lyceum Theatre the crows were already thick. . . . ," and "tie this bit of card round my neck. . . ." Crows should be crowds and card should be cord. As Redmond records the relationships between all editions, printings, and issues of these novels, and collates the texts, he discovers that most of the pirated editions were printed from a few settings of type which in turn became stereotype plates. After repeated use by one publisher, these plates were often passed on, borrowed, rented, or sold. With continuous use, the plates became worn, and the resulting degradation of type allows Redmond to trace the chronology of printings and issues from each. A stemma illustrates the complex sequence of reprintings of Sign and Study, and appendices list textual variations peculiar to sets of plates.
Redmond admits that further pirated issues of Sign and Study may be found and that occasionally he has not seen a copy of a particular volume, although it has been listed in earlier bibliographies. A greater, although unavoidable handicap [End Page 343] is that he could not compare texts with the original manuscripts of Sign and Study, which are held in private hands. Redmond's work shows the need for a modern, authoritative edition of the complete Sherlock Holmes. Such intensive bibliographical examination has never been given to the Sherlock Holmes stories. Redmond's bibliographical descriptions supersede those of any previous work on Doyle.
Unlike Doyle, Anna Katharine Green achieved instant success with her first novel, The Leavenworth Case (1878), and went on to publish thirty-five novels and twenty-three short stories. In Mother of Detective Fiction, Patricia D. Maida presents a straightforward account...