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Week 10

Teen Readers

Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles Audio Version

The Hound of the Baskervilles Text Version

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Author

Born May 22, 1859, Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born to a prosperous Irish-Catholic parents in Edenborough Scotland.  Though his father was an alcoholic who had to be committed to an insane asylum when Doyle was still a teen, his mother was well-educated and loved telling stories.  He attended Jesuit boarding school in England when he was nine, sent by wealthy relatives to shelter him from his father’s increasingly erratic behavior.  Upon his graduation seven years later he returned to Scotland and attended the University of Edenborough as a medical student.  He modeled his famous character Sherlock Holmes on one of his professors in medical school, Dr. Joseph Bell, a master of logic, observation, diagnosis, and deductive reasoning.

At age 20, during his third year of medical school he was offered a position as the ship’s surgeon on the Hope, a whale hunting ship on a seal-hunting expedition.  Though he did not enjoy the ship’s seal and whale hunting missions, he did enjoy the camaraderie of the ship.  He returned to school, finishing his medical degree in 1881.

Doyle struggled to succeed as a medical doctor, continuing to write while he practiced.  Eventually both professions began to bring him a great deal of success, but he was not as proud of his Sherlock Holmes stories as he was of his other writings.  He reluctantly continued to write stories with the characters because of their popularity.  In May of 1891 he contracted a virulent strain of influenza that almost killed him, and upon his recovery he decided to devote himself to writing and give up his medical career.  A couple of years later he decided to kill his famous detective, freeing himself to write in his more preferred serious style.  His fans were angry and the public backlash was considerable. 

Arthur Conan Doyle delighted his fans by writing a new Sherlock Holmes in 1901 and continued to write stories about his famous detective for many years.  Arthur Conan Doyle died July 7, 1930 from heart problems.

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles was serialized in The Strand magazine from August 1901 to April 1902.  It was the first Sherlock Holmes story Doyle wrote after killing his character in 1893.  It is the haunting story of a man apparently murdered by a supernatural hound.  Sherlock Holmes and his trusty companion Dr. Watson investigate and solve the mystery.

Questions for The Hound of the Baskervilles

How does Doyle set the tone for this book?  What differences did you notice between the scenes in London and Dartmoor?

Does the author want you to figure out the mystery before Sherlock Holmes does?

Sherlock believes there is always a rational explanation for events.  Do you agree?

Why does Dr. Watson narrate this story rather than Sherlock Holmes?  What effect does it have on the story?

What do you notice about different classes in this story?  What do you think the author’s attitude is?

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