Every Sherlockian has wondered about the Untold Tales at some time or another. Watson and Holmes mention them in more than forty of the Canonical tales, and readers remain fascinated by dreams of stories yet to be told. My own Sherlockian area of interest is in pastiches, parodies and related fiction, and part of the research I do is to identify efforts to tell the Untold Tales. Several lists of these Untold Tales have been published, with varying numbers of entries included. Scholars have identified as many as one hundred and sixty such tales, although I feel many of those identifications are questionable. Keeping this in mind, I have searched the Canon to build a list that will specifically support my effort to recognize the pastiches that attempt to tell these tales.
In the original version of this article I used Baring-Gould's chronology for the Canonical tales but it invited too much controversy. Now I am using Les Klinger’s1 sequence to process the tales. That is the publication sequence of the books and the story sequence within the books. Taken in this fashion, there is no question about where any tale belongs, as there would be if any other sequence of the individual tales were to be used. The individual Untold Tales will be listed as the citations occur in the Canonical tales. In each tale, I considered the original publication date in The Strand (where applicable) and the date assigned by the author (where available). If no date was given, I used the most generally accepted date in the Literature. For reference, the publication date is listed to the right of the title and the date of occurrence is listed to the left. Obviously, this leads to questions, but I do not have space in the article to discuss these in detail.
As a part of the process of identifying Untold Tales, I am introducing a standard set of codes I shall use as shorthand for all relevant Untold Tales in citations for my own database of pastiches, parodies and related fiction, as well as for articles and other publications. I hope others may find it useful. This set of codes needs to be unique across the Canon, the Apocrypha and the Untold Tales, and it will use the codes developed by Jay Finley Christ for the Canonical tales as a starting place. The code values I have assigned are listed for each Untold or Apocryphal tale.
Criteria for including a citation in this list are simple. First, the event should be cited in the Canon or the published apocrypha. Second, there must be some indication that the citation represents an actual event investigated or dealt with by Holmes and/or Watson. This proviso is important, as there are a fair number of citations in the Canon of events that obviously are not actual cases investigated by Holmes. In spite of this qualification, for my purposes, items must also be included if Sherlockian pastiches, parodies or related fiction have been written about them. This consideration will add a number of otherwise unacceptable entries to the list
The Untold Tales that I have identified fall into five distinct categories. The first category is that of obvious references to events involving Holmes and Watson. These form the bulk of the entries and will be listed in the sequence the tales appear in Klinger's books. Each Canonical tale is listed, along with its Christ Code. Untold Tale citations from that Canonical story are then listed along with a proposed compatible abbreviation for each such tale.
[03/04/1881] A Study in Scarlet (STUD) [12/1887]
1. ... Mr. Lestrade … got himself in a fog recently over a forgery case (LEST).
2. One morning a young girl called, fashionably dressed ... (FASH).
3. ... a gray-headed, seedy visitor, looking like a Jew pedlar... (PEDL).
4. ... a slipshod elderly woman (ELDE).
5. ... an old, white-haired gentleman had an interview... (GENT).
6. ... a railway porter in his velveteen uniform (RAIL).
[07/07/1888W]2The Sign of [the?] Four (SIGN) [02/1890]
7. I was consulted last week by Francois le Villard... (VILL).
8. ...the most winning woman I ever knew was hanged for poisoning three little children... (WINN).
9. ...the most repellent man of my acquaintance is a philanthropist... (REPE).
10. ...you once enabled my employer, Mrs. Cecil Forrester, to unravel a little domestic complication (FORR).
11. ...you lectured us all on causes and inferences and effects in the Bishopgate jewel case (BISH)3.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes [10/14/1892]
[03/20/1888W] A Scandal in Bohemia (SCAN) [07/1891]
12. Internal references indicate Watson was married before he wed Mary Morstan following SIGN (1MAR)4.
13. ...of his summons to Odessa in the case of the Trepoff murder... (TREP).
14. ...the singular tragedy of the Atkinson brothers at Trincomalee... (ATKI).
15. ...finally, the mission which he had accomplished so delicately and successfully for the reigning family of Holland (HOLL).
16. When Mrs. Turner (not Hudson!) has brought in the tray... (TURN)5.
17. In the case of the Darlington substitution scandal, it was of use to me... (DARL).
18. ...and also in the Arnsworth castle business (ARNS).
[04/27/1890W] The Red-Headed League (REDH) [08/1891]
19. We (John Clay and I) have had some skirmishes but we had never set eyes on each other before (CLAY).
[10/09/1889] A Case of Identity (IDEN) [09/1891]
20. This is the Dundas separation case... (DUND).
see #15 ... it (the ring) was from the reigning family of Holland... (HOLL).
21. ... save for one rather intricate matter which has been referred to me from Marseilles... (MARS).
22. ...from Mrs. Etherege, whose husband you found so easy when … had given him up for dead (ETHE).
[06/27/1889] The Boscombe Valley Mystery (BOSC) [10/1891]
[09/1887W] The Five Orange Pips (FIVE) [11/1891]
23. ... the adventure of the Paradol Chamber... (PARA).
24. ... the Amateur Mendicant Society, who held a luxurious club in the lower vault of a furniture warehouse... (AMAT).
25. ... the facts connected with the disappearance of the British barque Sophy Anderson... (SOPH).
26. ... the singular adventures of the Grice Patersons in the island of Uffa... (GRIC).
27. ... and, finally, the Camberwell poisoning case (CAMB).
28. I heard from Major Prendergast how you saved him in the Tankerville Club scandal (TANK).
29-32. I have been beaten four times – three times by men and once by a woman (BTN1, BTN2, BTN3, BTNW)6.
[06/1889W] The Man with the Twisted Lip (TWIS)7 [12/1891]
33. ...the rascally Lascar who runs it has sworn to have vengeance upon me... (LASC).
[12/27/1889] The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle (BLUE) [01/1892]
[04/1883W] The Adventure of the Speckled Band (SPEC) [02/1892]
34. ... Mrs. Farintosh...an opal Tiara (OPAL).
[08-09/1889] The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb (ENGR) [03/1892]
35. ...and that of Colonel Warburton's madness (WARB).
[10/1888] The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor (NOBL) [04/1892]
36. ...letters... from a fishmonger... (FISH).
37. ...letters...a tide-waiter… (TIDE)..
38. ...Lord Backwater tells me... (BACK)8.
39. ...the little problem of the Grosvenor Square furniture van (GROS).
40. My last client of the sort was a king. ... The King of Scandinavia (KING).
[02/19/1886] The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet (BERY) [05/1892]
[04/07/1890] The Adventure of the Copper Beeches (COPP) [06/1892]
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes [12/13/1893]
[07/12/1888] Silver Blaze (SILV) [12/1892]
[08/10/1888] The Cardboard Box (CARD) [01/1893]
His Last Bow [10/22/1917]
[03/1892W16)] The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge (WIST) [09/1908]
98. ...you know how bored I have been since we locked up Colonel Carruthers (CARR).
[09/1902] The Adventure of the Red Circle (REDC) [03/1911]
99. You arranged an affair for a lodger of mine last year ... Mr. Fairdale Hobbs (HOBB).
[11/1895W] The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans (BRUC) [12/1908]
100. Suppose that I were Brooks... (BROO).
101. ...or Woodhouse, or any of the fifty men who have good reason for taking my life...(WOOD).
[11/1890W] The Adventure of the Dying Detective (DYIN) [12/1913]
[07/1901] The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax (LADY) [12/1911]
102. ...I cannot possibly leave London while old Abrahams is in such mortal terror of his life (ABRA).
[03/1897W] The Adventure of the Devil's Foot (DEVI) [12/1910]
103. ...Dr. Moore Agar, of Harley Street, whose dramatic introduction to Holmes... (AGAR).
[08/02/1914W] His last Bow (LAST) [09/1917]
104. …I started my pilgrimage at Chicago… (CHIC).
105. …graduated in an Irish secret society at Buffalo… (IRIS).
106. …gave serious trouble to the constabulary at Skibbareen… (SKIB).
107. It was I also who saved from murder by the Nihilist Klopman, Count Von und Zu Grafenstein... (GRAF).
The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes [06/16/1927] [09/03/1902W] The Adventure of the Illustrious Client (ILLU) [02/1925]
[01/1903H] The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier (BLAN) [11/1926]
108. …Watson had at that time Deserted me for a wife… (3MAR)17.
…the Abbey School in which the Duke of Greyminster was so deeply involved (GREY)18.
I also had a commission from the Sultan of Turkey which required immediate action... (SULT).
I was once able to do him a professional service… His name is Sir James Saunders (SIRJ).
[07/1903] The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone (MAZA) [10/1921]
112. Old Baron Dowson said the night before he was hanged that in my case what the law had gained the stage had lost (DOWS).
113. … facts as to the death of old Mrs. Harold, who left you (Count Sylvius) the Blymer estate… (HARO).
114. …the compete life history of Miss Minnie Warrender. (WARR).
115. …the robbery in the train de-luxe to the Riviera on February 13, 1892. (TRAI).
[05/1902] The Adventure of the Three Gables (3GAB) [10/1920]
116. I believe that my late husband, Mortimer Maberly, was one of your early clients (MABE).
[11/19/1896W] The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire (SUSS) [01/1924]
117. Matilda Briggs was...a ship which is associated with the giant rat of Sumatra... (GRAT).
118. Victor Lynch, the forger. (LYNC).
119. Venomous lizard, or Gila. Remarkable case that! (GILA)!
[06/1902W] The Adventure of the Three Garridebs (3GAR) [01/1925]
120. ...Holmes refused a knighthood for services which may, someday, be described. (SERV).
[10/1901] The Problem of Thor Bridge (THOR) [02/1922]
121. ...is that of Mr. James Phillimore who, stepping back into his own house to get his umbrella, was never more seen in this world (PHIL).
122. ...the cutter Alicia, which sailed one spring morning into a patch of mist… (ALIC).
123. ...is that of Isadora Persano, the well-known journalist and duelist... a remarkable worm... (ISAD).
[09/06/1903W] The Adventure of the Creeping Man (CREE) [03/1923]
[07/1907H] The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane (LION) [12/1926]
[10/1896] The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger (VEIL) [02/1927]
124. ...the whole story concerning the politician, the lighthouse and the trained cormorant... (POLI).
 The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place (SHOS) [04/1927]
125. Since I ran down that coiner by the zinc and copper filings in the seam of his cuff... (COIN).
[08/1898] The Adventure of the Retired Colourman (RETI) [01/1927]
126. ...I am preoccupied with this case of the two Coptic Patriarchs… (2COP).
The second category of items that are often included in lists of Untold Tales is that of events or persons cited from Holmes’s commonplace books or other reference works. These almost surely do not represent case references, but rather are clearly items from Holmes’s files and not from his personal experience. The following are included only because pastiches have been written or suggested about them:
[03/30/1894W] The Adventure of the Empty House (EMPT) [10/1903]
127. ...Morgan the poisoner... (MORG)19.
128. ...Merridew of abominable memory... (MERR)20.
[12/1896W] The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter (MISS) [08/1904]
129. There is Arthur H. Staunton, the rising young forger... (FORG)21.
[09/03/1902W] The Adventure of the Illustrious Client (ILLU) [02/1925]
130. … negotiations with Sir George Lewis over the Hammerford Will case. (HAMM)22.
131. My old friend (not likely met) Charlie Peace was a violin virtuoso (hanged 02/25/1879) (PEAC)23.
132. Wainwright (Thomas Griffiths Wainwright, died 1852, a real-life criminal) was no mean artist (WAIN)24.
[11/19/1896W] The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire (SUSS) [01/1924]
133. Vittoria the circus belle (VITT)25.
134. Vanderbilt and the Yeggman (VAND)26.
135. Vigor, the Hammersmith wonder (VIGO)27.
A third category of Untold Tales is that of citations in the Canon of cases explicitly attributed to other investigators. Several of these must be included because Sherlockian pastiches have been written about them.
[09/1902] The Adventure of the Red Circle (REDC) [03/1911]
136. The hero of the Long Island cave mystery [Mr. Leverton of Pinkerton's] (LONG)28.
The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place (SHOS)
137. ... in the St. Pancras case, you may remember that a cap was found beside the dead policeman... [“Is this your case? No, my friend, Merivale of the Yard, asked me to look into the case”(consultation)] (PANC)29.
The fourth class of questionable “Untold Tales” is alternative entries for various otherwise identified tales. Examples of these are “The Matilda Briggs” and “The Giant Rat of Sumatra” along with “The Odessa murder Case” and “The Trepoff Murder”. There are several duplications, but none of these tales should be included more than once. The only exceptions are those required by separate pastiches; “… the red leech (REDL) …” and “… Crosby the banker (CROS) …” or “… the Addleton tragedy (ADDL) …” and “… the ancient British barrow (BARR) …,” as noted above.
The final class of citations is that of alternative names, used in the Canon, for Canonical tales. There are quite a number of tales in this class. Just a few examples are “The Abbas Parva Tragedy” which is actually the case in The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger, just as “The Tragedy of Woodman's Lee” and “The Strange Death of Peter Carey” are both alternate names for The Adventure of Black Peter. Similarly, both “The Black Pearl of the Borgias” and “The Episode of Yoxley Old Place” refer, respectively, to SIXN and GOLD. Again, none of these can legitimately claim to be Untold Tales as they have been told already in the Canon.
To complete a list of story codes, I have selected values for the Apocrypha, other tales by Doyle (and others) that agree with the Sherlockian “Universe”. For a choice of Apocrypha, I have used Jack Tracy’s excellent Sherlock Holmes: the Published Apocrypha. Each item has sound linkages to the Canon and reason to be considered “close” to Canonical for discussion purposes. These are all reasonable choices, if not definitive.
The Field Bazaar (FIEL) How Watson Learned the Trick (WATS) Another Untold Tale I have identified comes from one of the Apocrypha. The tale was a present to Doyle from Barrie on the occasion of the opening of a play they had jointly authored. Doyle accepted and spoke well of it.
The Adventure of the Two Collaborators [by J. M. Barrie] (2COL) 138. This pastiche lists “The Adventure of the Man with the Cork Leg” as a Holmes case (CORK).
The Man with the Watches (MANW) The Lost Special (LOST) Sherlock Holmes: a Drama in Four Acts (SH4A) The Painful Predicament of Sherlock Holmes (PAIN) The Speckled Band [Play script] (SPEP) The Crown Diamond (CROW) The Case of the Man Who Was Wanted (WANT) 139. The final Untold Tale is mentioned nowhere in the Canon or in the Apocrypha. This is even more surprising since this is actually the single most popular of all Sherlockian pastiche subjects with more than seventy five attempts made to tell the tale. I code it as (JACK), for “Saucy Jack.”
1 See The Annotated Sherlock Holmes, by Leslie S. Klinger.
2 The date given for this tale was admitted by Doyle to be an error. He later said it should have been September but never bothered to change it. See Klinger, above, Volume 3 page 234, Footnote #50 for an explanation.
3 This was not a Holmes investigation, but rather was a teaching case. “The Puzzle of the Vanishing Laboratory” is a Novella by Peter Calamai. It was published in Curious Incidents V02, (J R Campbel & C Prepolac, eds).
4 There is intense disagreement about the dating of The Sign of Four (SIGN) and “A Scandal in Bohemia (SCAN)”. Internally, Watson dates SCAN in March 1888, which I must accept since there is no compelling evidence to the contrary. The earliest date offered for SIGN is April 1888 and most scholars place it later in that year, which dates Watson’s marriage to Mary Morstan after SCAN.
5 This name has given rise to a number of speculations in the form of both articles and pastiches:
“The Patient Patients of Dr. Watson” is a 1-scene Play by Linda Dietz (w Elizabeth Skopik). It was published in “Canadian Holmes,” [V21, Issue #1, Au/1997] and includes characters from a number of Canonical tales.
“Mrs. Turner of Baker Street” is a narrative article by Bruce Kennedy. It was published in “The Baker Street Pages,” [Issue #21, 03/1967].
“The Language of the Bees,” the ninth novel in Laurie King’s ‘Mary Russell’ series, explores this matter.
“The Hampstead Poisonings,” the third novel in Glen Petrie’s ‘Mycroft Holmes’ series also explores this.
“Mrs. Hudson Speaks” is an article in the very first Baker Street Journal by Zasu Pitts that explains this.
6 Again, the chronology is confused. Most experts date FIVE in March 1888, after SCAN, but Watson states it was in September of 1887, so “…once by a woman…” cannot be SCAN, which occurred at earliest in March of 1888.
7 This story has led to extensive speculation on the earlier acquaintance of Holmes and the St. Clairs. No specific pastiche has been written about this, but Molly Carr’s novel, The Sign of Fear, does deal with this possibility.
8 There is disagreement about the date of “The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor.” Some place it in October of 1887, others in 1888. If it occurred in 1888, Lord Backwater’s comment can refer to “Silver Blaze.” If in 1887, it must refer to an earlier case. In either event, there are:
“Lord Backwater's Message from the Beyond,” a short story by William E. Dudley, that was published in “The Baker Street Gazette,” [Issue #01, Summer/1987].
“The Adventure of the Lord’s Lament,” a short story by David L. Hammer, from his fourth collection, A Distinct Touch, Watson.
“The Adventure of the 4th Napoleon,” a short story by Richard L. Lane, published in “The Baker Street Journal,” [V20, Issue #1, 03/1970].
9 See Leslie S. Klinger, The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, [ volume 1, Page 533, footnote #15] for an explanation that “The Gloria Scott” is not one of these two cases. More are possible but not required by the text.
10 This conversation had to have occurred before October 1881 and, thus, before “The Reigate Squires” or “The Adventure of the DyingDetective” where Holmes uses it.
11 This is the first mention of Mycroft in the Canon, needless to say as a source for a case.
12 The additional mention by Holmes in this quotation of work for the French Government is almost undoubtedly the case mentioned by Watson in item #58.
13 The punctuation does not make it clear whether “the red leech” and “Crosby the banker” are the same or are different cases. I must treat them as separate because there are several pastiches that cite one or the other but not both.
14 Clearly mentioned as a single event, however again, there are many separate pastiches.
15 This is NOT “the Adventure of the Second Stain” cited in NAVA (see SEC2). Dating and characters are wrong.
16 The given date is obviously an error as Holmes was out of the country in 1892. It is probably 1895 or later.
18 This could be a reference to “The Adventure of the Priory School,” but the timing is two years off.
19 “The Case of Morgan the Poisoner” is a short story by David L. Hammer. It was published in his fourth collection, A Distinct Touch, Watson.
“The Adventure of the Egyptian Affair” is a novella by David McGowan. It was published in his collection, Sherlockian Tales, V 01.
“Case Work in which Is Revealed All you Need to Know of Morgan the Poisoner” is a pun by Ann Swkene Melvin. It was published in “Canadian Holmes,” [V04, Issue #2, Christmas/1980].
“The Case of the Sporting Squire” is a short story by Guy N. Smith. It was published in The Mammoth Book of New Sherlock Holmes Adventures (Mike Ashley, ed.).
20 “Sherlock Holmes and the Giant's Hand” is a Novella by Matthew Booth. It contains data on a case introduced by Hopkins and the ‘ancient British barrow’, as well as ‘Merridew of abominable memory.’ It was published in his collection, Sherlock Holmes and the Giant's Hand & Other Stories.
“A Study in Scarlet” is a screenplay by Robert Florey (w. Reginald Owen). Although it involves no characters and/or events peculiar to A Study in Scarlet, it does include an abominable character identified as Merridew. It was released by World-Wide Pictures on May 14th, 1933, starring Reginald Owen and Warburton Gamble as Holmes and Watson.
“Merridew of Abominable Memory” is a novella by Chris Roberson. It was published in The Gaslight Grimoire (Campbell & Prepolec, eds), and in The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (J. J. Adams, ed.).
“The Case of the Notorious Practitioner” is a short novel by Jane Rubino. It was included in her collection, Knight Errant.
21 Again, I know of no pastiches telling Staunton’s story, but have been informed that there is one.
22 Sherlock Holmes and the Hammerford Will is a short novel by John Hall.
23 I, Sherlock Holmes is a biographical novel by Michael Harrison. It recounts a case about Holmes and Peace.
25 “Voyage, Victor, Venomous, Vittoria” is a short spoof by Jim Goehmann, published in his Watson's First Drafts and Other Sherlockian Commentary.
“The Adventure of Vittoria, the Circus Belle” is a short story by Edward D. Hoch, published in The Mammoth Book of New Sherlock Holmes Adventures (Mike Ashley, ed.).
“The Case of Vittoria, the Circus Belle” is a short story by Jay Sheckley published in The Confidential Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (Marvin Kaye, ed.).
“The Case of the Ainsworth Abduction” is a novella by June Thomson from her fourth collection, The Secret Documents of Sherlock Holmes.
26 “The Horrendous Hiatus of Vanderbilt and the Yeggman” is a short story by Guy Marshall. It was published in “The Sherlock Holmes Journal,” [V15, Issue #1, Winter/1980].
“The Adventure of Vanderbilt and the Yeggman” is a short story by Roberta Rogow. It was published in The Confidential Casebook of Sherlock Holmes (Marvin Kaye, ed).
27 “The Adventure of Vigor, the Hammersmith Wonder” is a short story by Allen Cohen. It was published in “The Baker Street Pages,” [Christmas/1966].
“Vigor: A Case for Identity” is a short story by Howard Lachtman. It was published in “The Baker Street Journal,” [V26, Issue #1, 03/1977].
“The Adventure of the Hammersmith Wonder” is a short story by David Scott (writing as Godfrey Emsworth). It was published in “The Hounds Collection,” [Issue #07, 04/2002].
“The Case of the Hammersmith Wonder” is a short story by June Thomson. It was published in her second collection, The Secret Chronicles of Sherlock Holmes.
“The Adventure of the Paradol Chamber” is a novella by Alan Wilson. It was published in “The Sherlock Holmes Journal,” [V5, Issues #2-3, Spring-Winter/1961]. This tale tells of the Paradol Chamber, as cited in “The Five Orange Pips,” as well as the tale of the Hammerford Will.
“The Sherlock Holmes Opening” is a short story by Richard Wincor, about the Hammerford Will and Chess. It was published in “The Baker Street Journal,” [V15, Issue #2, 06/1965].
28 “A Note on ‘The Long Island Cave Mystery’ Mystery” is a narrative article by John Shelton Reed. It was published in “The Baker Street Journal,” [V19, Issue #2, 06/1969].
“The Red Circle Caper” is a short story by Peter H. Woods that relates “The Red Circle” to the Long Island cave mystery. It was published in “Canadian Holmes,” [V24, Issue #3, Spring/2001].
29 Yet another Untold Tale with no pastiche known to me, yet I have been informed that there is one.