The Adventure of the Priory School - 1985



This is strictly speaking not a Deighton book in the conventional sense. The Adventure Of The Primary School is a facsimile of the original manuscript of a Sherlock Holmes short story mystery by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to which Len Deighton provides the introduction. Here again, Deighton is demonstrating his passion and knowledge about a particular hobby, namely 'Sherlockiana', or the collecting of books and ephemera relating to Sherlock Holmes.

The manuscript was uncovered by Marvin Epstein and it's the pride of his collection. Unpublished elsewhere, this book was his way of recognising the value of this work. Deighton's introduction confirms he is a huge fan of the Sherlock Holmes books, having read them as a child. What follows is an expert exposition of why Conan Doyle's novels work so well, the mystery and appeal of the Holmes character and an understanding of why the two different characters of Holmes and Watson work together so well as a detective team. Deighton clearly demonstrates his understanding of the works and the historical facts behind the stories.

Why it's interesting

There are a number of books to which Deighton contributes - clearly - not for monetary return or reputation but because he cares passionately about the subject matters and draws on the enthusiasm of the experts or the collectors whose passions drive these hobbies forward. The story itself is classic Sherlock Holmes, but reading it is not easy as it is a facsimile of the original hand-written text by Doyle.

Sample text

'I am convinced that Sherlock Holmes was provided with the sort of life Conan Doyle would have liked had he ended his career as a medical specialist. Wealthy clients arrive at his Baker Street rooms and Holmes impresses them with his erudition and his autocratic manner. The problems they bring him tend to have the abstract terrors of disease rather than the nuts and bolts problems of most crime. Holmes's interest tends to center upon his client rather than the perpetrator of the crime. And, like so many medical specialists, he tells his client just what he thinks they should be allowed to know. Only Watson in his role of junior partner, is permitted to hear the real diagnosis. How lucky we have been to share those secrets.'

Related fact

Only 250 copies of this volume were published privately by the Santa Teresa Press of Santa Barbara, California.


The Adventure of the Priority School
private edition, 1984

Collector's note

Rare as this book is, even rarer are the 25 copies of just the introduction by Len Deighton, published in card cover for the purposes of securing copyright. Finding one of these is a Holy Grail for collectors