Written in 1886, the story marks the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, who would become two of the most famous characters in popular fiction. The book's title derives from a speech given by Holmes, an amateur detective, to his friend and chronicler Watson on the nature of his work, in which he describes the story's murder investigation as his ""study in scarlet"" ""There's the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it. The story, and its main characters, attracted little public interest when it first appeared. Only 11 complete copies of the magazine in which the story first appeared, Beeton's Christmas Annual for 1887, are known to exist now and they have considerable value. Although Conan Doyle wrote 56 short stories featuring Holmes, A Study in Scarlet is one of only four full-length novels in the original canon. The novel was followed by The Sign of the Four, published in 1890.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) was born of Irish parentage in Scotland. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, but he also had a passion for storytelling. His first book introduced that prototype of the modern detective in fiction, Sherlock Holmes. Despite the immense popularity Holmes gained throughout the world, Doyle was not overly fond of the character and preferred to write other stories. Eventually popular demand won out and he continued to satisfy readers with the adventures of the legendary sleuth. He also wrote historical romances and made two essays into pseudoscientific fantasy: The Lost World and The Poison Belt.