Manuscript first page of “The Sign of Four”, 1889

This is the earliest surviving manuscript page of a Sherlock Holmes story. The first two paragraphs famously describe Holmes injecting himself with ‘a seven-per-cent solution’ of cocaine. His forearm and wrist are ‘all dotted and scarred with innumerable puncture marks’. He finds the drug so ‘transcendently stimulating and clarifying to the mind that its secondary action is a matter of a small moment’. The novel was first published in the United States as The Sign of the Four and in Britain as The Sign of Four.

Museum of London – Sherlock Holmes Exhibition.
Manuscript lent by University of California, San Diego.

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