The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

By Arthur Conan Doyle; Christopher Roden | Go to book overview

APPENDIX I
The Adventure of the Two Collaborators

At the invitation of Sir James Barrie, Conan Doyle collaborated on the libretto of a comic opera Jane Annie; or, The Good Conduct Prize, which opened at the Savoy Theatre on 13 May 1893. In Memories and Adventures, Conan Doyle wrote:

Sir James Barrie paid his respects to Sherlock Holmes in a rollicking parody. It was really a gay gesture of resignation over the failure which we had encountered with a comic opera for which he undertook to write the libretto. I collaborated with him on this, but in spite of our joint efforts, the piece fell flat. Whereupon Barrie sent me a parody of Holmes, written on the fly leaves of one of his books. It ran thus:


THE ADVENTURE OF THE TWO COLLABORATORS

In bringing to a close the adventures of my friend Sherlock Holmes I am perforce reminded that he never, save on the occasion which, as you will now hear, brought his singular career to an end, consented to act in any mystery which was concerned with persons who made a livelihood by their pen. 'I am not particular about the people I mix among for business purposes,' he would say, 'but at literary characters I draw the line.'

We were in our rooms in Baker Street one evening. I was (I remember) by the centre table writing out "'The Adventure of the Man without a Cork Leg'" (which had so puzzled the Royal Society and all the other scientific bodies of Europe), and Holmes was amusing himself with a little revolver practice. It was his custom of a summer evening to fire round my head, just shaving my face, until he had made a photograph of me on the opposite wall, and it is a slight proof of his skill that many of these portraits in pistol. shots are considered admirable likenesses.

I happened to look out of the window, and perceiving two gentlemen advancing rapidly along Baker Street asked him who they were. He immediately lit his pipe, and, twisting himself on a chair into the figure 8, replied: 'They are two collaborators in comic opera, and their play has not been a triumph.'

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