Literary scholar and rare book dealer Madeleine B. Stern, best known for her scholarship on writer Louisa May Alcott, proposed the titles likely to inhabit the library of fictional detective Sherlock Holmes in her 1953 article, “Sherlock Holmes: Rare-Book Collector, A Study in Book Detection” (The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, Vol. 47, No. 2). Printed in a slender volume in 1981, Stern’s list was reproduced as a catalog, which is currently on display in the exhibition “Investigating Sherlock: Selections from the Russell Mann Sherlock Holmes Research Collection” in Hill Memorial Library (through January 28, 2017).
Sherlock, no doubt, would have found himself quite at home as a patron visiting LSU Libraries Special Collections, as many of his favorite works can be found in our holdings (specifically in the Rare Book Collection and E. A. McIlhenny Natural History Collection, though in some instances the edition varies). Several of the works are featured here:
*Catullus, Gaius Valerius. Catullus. Tibullus. Propertius. (Ex typographia Societatis, 1794).
Call number PA6274 .A2 1794 Rare
*Blackstone, Sir William. Commentaries on the Laws of England. (Philadelphia: Robert Bell, 1771-1772).
Call number 347 B56C Rare
*Bewick. Thomas. History of British Birds (Newcastle: Beilby & Bewick, 1797-1804).
Call number QL690 .G7 B5 McIlhenny
*Falconer, John. Cryptomenysis Patefacta; or, The Art of Secret Information Disclosed Without a Key. Containing, plain and demonstrative rules, for decyphering all manner of secret writing. With exact methods, for resolving secret intimations by signs or gestures, or in speech. As also an inquiry into the secret ways of conveying written messages: and the several mysterious proposals for secret information, mentioned by Trithemius, &c (London: Brown, 1685).
Call number Z103 .F18 Rare
What other rare and unusual volumes proved essential to the super sleuth? We invite you to visit Hill Memorial Library, and conduct some of your own investigations.