"A Scandal in Bohemia" is the first short story, and the third overall work, featuring Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. It is the first of the 56 Holmes short stories written by Doyle and the first of 38 Sherlock Holmes works illustrated by Sidney Paget. The story is notable for introducing the character of Irene Adler, who is one of the most notable female characters in the Sherlock Holmes series, despite appearing in only one story. Doyle ranked "A Scandal in Bohemia" fifth in his list of his twelve favourite Holmes stories.
|"A Scandal in Bohemia"|
1891 illustration by Sidney Paget
|Author||Arthur Conan Doyle|
|Series||The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes|
Dr. Watson recounts an adventure that started on 20 March 1888. While the currently married Watson is paying Holmes a visit, a masked visitor arrives, introducing himself as Count Kramm, an agent for a wealthy client. Holmes quickly deduces that the visitor is in fact Wilhelm Gottsreich Sigismond von Ormstein, Grand Duke of Cassel-Felstein and the hereditary King of Bohemia. Realizing Holmes has seen through his guise, the King admits this and tears off his mask.
It transpires that the King is to become engaged to Clotilde Lothman von Saxe-Meiningen, a young Scandinavian princess. However, five years before the events of the story he had enjoyed a liaison with a "well-known adventuress", the American opera singer, Irene Adler, whilst she was prima donna of the Imperial Opera of Warsaw. She had since retired and now lives in London. Fearful that should the strictly principled family of his fiancée learn of this impropriety, the marriage would be called off, he had sought to regain letters and a photograph of Adler and himself together, which he had sent to her during their relationship as a token. The King's agents have tried to recover the photograph through sometimes forceful means, burglary, stealing her luggage, and waylaying her. An offer to pay for the photograph and letters was also refused. With Adler threatening to send them to his future in-laws, which the King presumes is intended to prevent him from marrying any other woman, he makes the incognito visit to Holmes to request his help in locating and obtaining the photograph.
The photograph is described to Holmes as a cabinet (5½ by 4 inches) and therefore too bulky for a lady to carry upon her person. As regards expenses, the King says Holmes has carte blanche and gives him £1,000 (£109,400 today), exclaiming "I would give one of the provinces of my kingdom to have that photograph!" Holmes asks Dr. Watson to join him at 221B Baker Street at 3 o'clock the following afternoon.
The next morning, Holmes goes to Adler's house, disguised as a drunken out-of-work groom. He discovers from the local stable workers that Adler has a gentleman friend, the barrister Godfrey Norton of the Inner Temple, who calls at least once a day. On this particular day, Norton comes to visit Adler, and soon afterwards takes a cab to the Church of St. Monica in Edgware Road. Minutes later, the lady herself gets into her landau, bound for the same place. Holmes follows in a cab and enters a church, where he is unexpectedly asked to be a witness to Norton and Adler's wedding. Curiously, they go their separate ways after the ceremony.
Meanwhile, Watson has been waiting for Holmes to arrive, and when Holmes finally does deliver himself back to Baker Street, he starts laughing. Watson is confused and asks what is so funny. Holmes then recounts his tale and comments he thought the situation and position he was in at the wedding was amusing. He also asks whether or not Watson is willing to participate in a scheme to figure out where the picture is hidden in Adler's house. Watson agrees, and Holmes changes into another disguise as a clergyman. The duo depart Baker Street for Adler's house.
When Holmes and Watson arrive, a group of jobless men meander throughout the street. When Adler's coach pulls up, Holmes enacts his plan. A fight breaks out between the men on the street over who gets to help Adler. Holmes rushes into the fight to protect Adler, and is seemingly struck and injured. Adler takes him into her sitting room, where Holmes motions for her to have the window opened. As Holmes lifts his hand, Watson recognizes a pre-arranged signal and tosses in a plumber's smoke rocket. While smoke billows out of the building, Watson shouts "FIRE!" and the cry is echoed up and down the street.
Holmes slips out of Adler's house and tells Watson what he saw. As Holmes expected, Adler rushed to get her most precious possession at the cry of "fire"—the photograph of herself and the King. Holmes was able to see that the picture was kept in a recess behind a sliding panel just above the right bell pull. He was unable to steal it at that moment, however, because the coachman was watching him. He explains all this to Watson before being bid good-night by a familiar-sounding youth, who promptly manages to get lost in the crowd.
The following morning, Holmes explains his findings to the King. When Holmes, Watson, and the King arrive at Adler's house at 8 am, her elderly maidservant sardonically informs them she left the country by the 5.15 train from Charing Cross railway station. Holmes quickly goes to the photograph's hiding spot, finding a photo of Irene Adler in an evening dress and a letter dated midnight and addressed to him. In the letter, Adler tells Holmes he did very well in finding the photograph and taking her in with his disguises. She also reveals that she posed as the youth who bid Holmes good-night. Adler has left England with Norton, "a better man" than the King, adding she will not compromise the King, despite being "cruelly wronged" by him; she had kept the photo only to protect herself from further action he might take.
The King exclaims how amazing Adler is ("Would she not have made an admirable queen? Is it not a pity she was not on my level?") Holmes replies Miss Adler is indeed on a much different level from the King (by which he means higher – an implication lost on the King). Thanking Holmes effusively, the King offers a valuable emerald ring from his finger as further reward. Holmes says there is something he values even more highly – the photograph of Adler. Ignoring the handshake proffered by the King, Holmes leaves. He keeps the photograph as a reminder of her cleverness, and of being beaten by a woman's wit. Watson also tells that, since their meeting, Holmes always refers to her by the honorable title of "the woman".
In the opening paragraph of the short story, Watson calls her "the late Irene Adler", suggesting she is deceased. It has been speculated, however, that the word "late" might actually mean "former". She married Godfrey Norton, making Adler her former name. (Doyle employs this same usage in "The Adventure of the Priory School" in reference to the Duke's former status as a cabinet minister.)
Adler earns Holmes' unbounded admiration. When the King of Bohemia says, "Would she not have made an admirable queen? Is it not a pity she was not on my level?" Holmes replies that Adler is indeed on a much different level from the King.
The beginning of "A Scandal in Bohemia" describes the high regard in which Holmes held Adler:
To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer. They were admirable things for the observer—excellent for drawing the veil from men's motives and actions. But for the trained reasoner to admit such intrusions into his own delicate and finely adjusted temperament was to introduce a distracting factor which might throw a doubt upon all his mental results. Grit in a sensitive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high-power lenses, would not be more disturbing than a strong emotion in a nature such as his. And yet there was but one woman to him, and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory.
This "memory" is kept alive by a photograph of Irene Adler, which had been deliberately left behind when she and her new husband took flight with the embarrassing photograph of her with the King. Holmes had then asked for and received this photo from the King, as payment for his work on the case. In "The Five Orange Pips" he comments to a client that he has been defeated on a mere handful of occasions and only once by a woman.[nb 1]
In derivative works, she is frequently used as a romantic interest for Holmes, a departure from Doyle's novels where he only admired her for her wit and cunning. In his Sherlock Holmes Handbook, Christopher Redmond notes "the Canon provides little basis for either sentimental or prurient speculation about a Holmes-Adler connection."
William Gillette's 1899 stage play Sherlock Holmes is based on several stories, among them "A Scandal in Bohemia". Films released in 1916 (starring Gillette as Holmes) and 1922 (starring John Barrymore), both titled Sherlock Holmes, were based on the play, as was a 1938 Mercury Theatre on the Air radio adaptation titled The Immortal Sherlock Holmes, starring Orson Welles as Holmes.
The 1946 film Dressed to Kill features several references to "A Scandal in Bohemia", with Holmes and Watson discussing the recent publication of the story in The Strand Magazine, and the villain of the film using the same trick on Watson that Holmes uses on Irene Adler in the story. In addition, Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, who played Holmes and Watson in the film, did the story for their radio series, The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The episode was followed by a sequel, "Second Generation", featuring Irene's daughter hiring Holmes in retirement.
The story was adapted for a 1951 TV episode of We Present Alan Wheatley as Mr Sherlock Holmes in... starring Alan Wheatley as Holmes, Raymond Francis as Dr. Watson and Olga Edwardes as Irene Adler.
"A Scandal in Bohemia" was adapted as one of episode of the Soviet film series "Priklyucheniya Sherloka Kholmsa i doktora Vatsona: Sokrovishcha Agry" (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson: The Treasures of Agra), (1983, USSR). It starred Vasily Livanov as Sherlock Holmes, Vitaly Solomin as Dr. Watson, Georgiy Martirosyan as the King of Bohemia and Larisa Solovyova as Irene Adler.
"A Scandal in Bohemia" was adapted as the first episode of the 1984–1985 television series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The episode featured Jeremy Brett as Holmes, David Burke as Watson, and Gayle Hunnicutt as Irene Adler.
Bert Coules dramatised "A Scandal in Bohemia" for BBC Radio 4 in 1990, starring Clive Merrison as Holmes and Michael Williams as Watson. It also featured Andrew Sachs as the King (Sachs would then go on to play Watson in Coules' "Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" for radio in 2002–2010.
"A Scandal in Bohemia" was featured in a season 1 episode of the PBS series Wishbone, entitled "A Dogged Exposé". In the episode, the supporting human characters search for an incognito photographer at their school who has been publishing embarrassing photographs of students. Intermingled with the plot, the title character Wishbone portrays Sherlock Holmes in a slightly modified adaptation of the original story to compare with the events of the "real-life" plot.
A series of four TV movies produced in the early 2000s starred Matt Frewer as Sherlock Holmes and Kenneth Welsh as Dr. Watson. One of these films, The Royal Scandal, adapted "A Scandal in Bohemia" and combined its story with "The Bruce-Partington Plans".
Steven Dietz's 2006 play Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, adapted from the 1899 play Sherlock Holmes, merges the storylines of "A Scandal in Bohemia" and The Final Problem. In this adaptation, Godfrey Norton is under the employ of Professor Moriarty and whose original plan was to rob Adler. However, they ended up falling in love, complicating the plan and forcing Moriarty to intervene when Holmes begins investigating on behalf of the King.
"A Scandal in Belgravia", episode one of the second series of the TV series Sherlock, was loosely adapted from the short story and aired on 1 January 2012, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes, Martin Freeman as Watson and Lara Pulver as Irene Adler. The plot of the short story – Holmes and Watson attempting to recover incriminating photos from Adler – is covered briefly in the first half of the episode updated for the contemporary period (Adler's photos are stored digitally on her mobile phone) and adjusted (the royal they incriminate is British and female); the episode then moves on to a storyline based on other Sherlock Holmes stories and films while including Adler, Mycroft Holmes (Mark Gatiss) and Jim Moriarty.
"A Scandal in Bohemia" was adapted to the second episode "The Adventure of the Headmaster with Trouble" of NHK puppetry Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is a pupil of an imaginary boarding school Beeton School. One day he pretends to be ill and goes to the nurse's office to search the photo that Headmaster Ormstein and school nurse Irene Adler are in. But Adler sees through his feigned illness. Then Holmes and his roommate John H. Watson make a false fire to find the photo but she penetrates their wiles and tells Holmes that she returned the photo to Ormstein.
Rather than creating a fictional country for the King in his story, Conan Doyle chose to place a fictional dynasty in a real country. The Kingdom of Bohemia was at the time of writing a possession of the House of Habsburg and the Austrian Emperors held the title "King of Bohemia". On the other hand, there had never been a "Kingdom of Scandinavia", though the surname of the King's fiancée was that of the actual ruling house of the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen.
"A Scandal in Belgravia" is the first episode of the second series of the BBC crime drama series Sherlock, which follows the modern-day adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and was first broadcast by BBC One on 1 January 2012. It was written by co-creator Steven Moffat, and directed by Paul McGuigan. The episode was based on "A Scandal in Bohemia", a short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The episode depicts Sherlock Holmes' (Benedict Cumberbatch) confrontation with Irene Adler (Lara Pulver), a dominatrix who has compromising photographs taken with a female member of the royal family. The photographs are stored inside her mobile phone, along with other valuable information which makes her a target of various political factions. Sherlock spends much of the episode keeping the device out of enemy hands while trying to deduce its password. Besides referring to the Doyle short story, the episode title names Belgravia, a district of London adjacent to the grounds of Buckingham Palace.
After its broadcast on BBC One, the episode was given consolidated figures of 10.663 million viewers in the United Kingdom. Critical reactions toward the episode were largely positive, with reviewers praising the writing, acting and direction. The episode sparked controversy for showing the character of Irene Adler in the nude; carefully using camera angles to avoid exposing private areas, pre-watershed.A Scandal in Bohemia (Sherlock Holmes episode)
"A Scandal In Bohemia" is an episode of the Granada TV Sherlock Holmes adaptations which were produced between 1984 and 1994 and star Jeremy Brett as the famous detective. It was the first of seven episodes aired in the series' first season The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The episode was first aired at 9:00 PM in the United Kingdom on Tuesday, April 24, 1984, on ITV.Arthur Conan Doyle bibliography
Arthur Conan Doyle KStJ, DL (1859–1930) was a Scottish writer and physician. In addition to the series of stories chronicling the activities of Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr John Watson for which he is well-known, Doyle wrote on a wide range of topics, both fictional and non-fictional. In 1876 Doyle entered the University of Edinburgh Medical School, where he became a pupil of Joseph Bell, whose deductive processes impressed his pupil so much that the teacher became the chief model for Holmes. Doyle began writing while still a student, and in October 1879 he had his first work—"The Mystery of the Sasassa Valley"—published in Chambers's Journal. He continued writing short works—both fictional and non-fictional—throughout his career, and had over 200 stories and articles published.In July 1891 Doyle published the short story "A Scandal in Bohemia" in The Strand Magazine—a "story which would change his life", according to his biographer, Andrew Lycett, as it introduced Holmes and Watson to a wide audience; the duo had provided the subject of Doyle's first novel, A Study in Scarlet, which was published in Beeton's Christmas Annual in 1887. The story in The Strand was one in a series of six, published in successive months. They were well received by the public, and the editors of the magazine commissioned a further six stories, and then another series of twelve. Doyle, fearful of having his other work overshadowed by his fictional detective, killed his creation off in December 1893 in "The Adventure of the Final Problem". He also wrote four full-length Holmes works, as well as adventure novels and nine historical works of fiction. In 1912 he began the adventure series featuring Professor Challenger, who first appeared in The Lost World—both in short stories and novel form.Doyle also wrote four volumes of poetry and a series of stage works—his first was Jane Annie, an unsuccessful attempt at a libretto to an operetta, which he wrote with J.M. Barrie. Doyle was an enthusiastic supporter of the Boer War, and wrote two histories of the events. During the First World War he also wrote extensively on that conflict, both short articles and a six-volume history. Owing to the close successive deaths of his son and brother, Doyle turned to spiritualism and wrote extensively on the subject; his biographer Owen Dudley Edwards writes that at the time of Doyle's death in July 1930, while the writer "most wanted to be remembered as a champion of spiritualism and as a historical novelist, it is Sherlock Holmes who has continued to capture the imagination of the public."Chubb Locks
Chubb Locks is a brand name of the Mul-T-Lock subsidiary of the Assa Abloy Group, which manufactures high security locking systems for residential, secure confinement and commercial applications.Glass Records
Glass Records was a British independent record label which operated from 1981 to 1990, and was resurrected in 2015.Irene Adler
Irene Adler is a fictional character in the Sherlock Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. She was featured in the short story "A Scandal in Bohemia", published in July 1891. She is one of the most notable female characters in the Sherlock Holmes series, despite appearing in only one story. In derivative works, she is frequently used as a romantic interest for Holmes, a departure from Doyle's novels where he only admired her for her wit and cunning.James Boswell
James Boswell, 9th Laird of Auchinleck (; 29 October 1740 – 19 May 1795), was a Scottish biographer and diarist, born in Edinburgh. He is best known for the biography he wrote of his friend and contemporary, the English literary figure Samuel Johnson, which is commonly said to be the greatest biography written in the English language.Boswell's surname has passed into the English language as a term (Boswell, Boswellian, Boswellism) for a constant companion and observer, especially one who records those observations in print. In "A Scandal in Bohemia", Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's character Sherlock Holmes affectionately says of Dr. Watson, who narrates the tales, "I am lost without my Boswell."List of actresses who have played Irene Adler
List of actresses who have played Irene AdlerNathalie Anderson
Nathalie F. Anderson (born 1948) is an American poet and librettist. She is a 1993 Pew Fellow, and author of several books of poetry: Following Fred Astaire, Crawlers, Quiver, Held and Firmly Bound (a chapbook), and Stain. In collaboration with composer Thomas Whitman, she authored four libretti: The Black Swan, Sukey in the Dark, Babylon and A Scandal in BohemiaSherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes ( or ) is a fictional private detective created by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Referring to himself as a "consulting detective" in the stories, Holmes is known for his proficiency with observation, forensic science, and logical reasoning that borders on the fantastic, which he employs when investigating cases for a wide variety of clients, including Scotland Yard.
First appearing in print in 1887's A Study in Scarlet, the character's popularity became widespread with the first series of short stories in The Strand Magazine, beginning with "A Scandal in Bohemia" in 1891; additional tales appeared from then until 1927, eventually totalling four novels and 56 short stories. All but one are set in the Victorian or Edwardian eras, between about 1880 and 1914. Most are narrated by the character of Holmes's friend and biographer Dr. Watson, who usually accompanies Holmes during his investigations and often shares quarters with him at the address of 221B Baker Street, London, where many of the stories begin.
Though not the first fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes is arguably the best known, with Guinness World Records listing him as the "most portrayed movie character" in history. Holmes's popularity and fame are such that many have believed him to be not a fictional character but a real individual; numerous literary and fan societies have been founded that pretend to operate on this principle. Widely considered a British cultural icon, the character and stories have had a profound and lasting effect on mystery writing and popular culture as a whole, with the original tales as well as thousands written by authors other than Conan Doyle being adapted into stage and radio plays, television, films, video games, and other media for over one hundred years.Sherlock Holmes (1916 film)
Sherlock Holmes is a 1916 American silent film starring William Gillette as Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. The film, which was directed by Arthur Berthelet, was produced by Essanay Studios in Chicago. It was adapted from the 1899 stage play of the same name, which was based on the stories, "A Scandal in Bohemia," "The Final Problem," and A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle.All surviving prints of the 1916 film Sherlock Holmes were once thought to be lost. However, on October 1, 2014, it was announced that a copy had been discovered in a film archive in France.The Adventure of the Wax Gamblers
The Adventure of the Wax Gamblers by John Dickson Carr is a Sherlock Holmes story. The story was published in the 1954 collection, The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes, a joint enterprise of Adrian Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr.The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of twelve short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, featuring his fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. It was first published on 14 October 1892; the individual stories had been serialised in The Strand Magazine between July 1891 and June 1892. The stories are not in chronological order, and the only characters common to all twelve are Holmes and Dr. Watson. The stories are related in first-person narrative from Watson's point of view.
In general the stories in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes identify, and try to correct, social injustices. Holmes is portrayed as offering a new, fairer sense of justice. The stories were well received, and boosted the subscriptions figures of The Strand Magazine, prompting Doyle to be able to demand more money for his next set of stories. The first story, "A Scandal in Bohemia", includes the character of Irene Adler, who, despite being featured only within this one story by Doyle, is a prominent character in modern Sherlock Holmes adaptations, generally as a love interest for Holmes. Doyle included four of the twelve stories from this collection in his twelve favourite Sherlock Holmes stories, picking "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" as his overall favourite.The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes
The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes is a short story collection of Sherlock Holmes pastiches written by Adrian Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr, first published in 1954. As an early and rather authoritative example of Sherlockian pastiche—the collaborators being the son and the authorised biographer of Holmes's creator—there is much to interest collectors.
Each story in this collection is postscripted with a quote from one of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, making reference to an undocumented Holmes case that inspired it.The Jazz Butcher
The Jazz Butcher, also known as The Jazz Butcher Conspiracy and The Jazz Butcher And His Sikkorskis From Hell, are a British musical group founded by Pat Fish.The Royal Scandal
The Royal Scandal is a Sherlock Holmes film which is an amalgam of "A Scandal in Bohemia" and "The Bruce-Partington Plans". The film was produced in 2001 for The Hallmark Channel as part of an ongoing series of Hallmark Sherlock Holmes films.The Treasures of Agra
The Treasures of Agra (Russian: Приключения Шерлока Холмса и доктора Ватсона: Сокровища Агры) is a 1983 Soviet television film, the fourth of five in the series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. It was directed by Igor Maslennikov.
It starred Vasily Livanov as Sherlock Holmes and Vitaly Solomin as Dr. Watson.
It consists of two episodes: Part One, based on The Sign of the Four (beginning), and Part Two, based on A Scandal in Bohemia and The Sign of the Four (continuation and conclusion).Ulster coat
The Ulster is a Victorian working daytime overcoat, with a cape and sleeves. It is often seen in period productions of Victorian novels, such as those of Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Ulster coat was referred to in Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of the Four, "A Scandal in Bohemia", "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle" and "The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor".
The Ulster is distinguished from the Inverness by the length of the cape; in the Ulster, this cape only reaches the elbows, allowing free movement of the forearms. It was commonly worn by coachmen who would be seated outdoors in bad weather for long periods, but needed to use their arms to hold reins.
Often made of hard-wearing fabrics, such as herringbones or tweeds, it was not a formal coat at the time, though in the 20th century a cape would be seen as such. After the Edwardian period, it lost its cape, and continued to be used as a heavy-duty overcoat, often in a double-breasted style.A lightweight version of this coat is called an ulsterette.In the 2015 Broadway musical Hamilton the lead characters of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton (as portrayed by Leslie Odom, Jr. and Lin-Manuel Miranda respectively) are seen wearing Ulster coats in the final duel in the song The World Was Wide Enough .Zero Effect
Zero Effect is a 1998 mystery comedy film written and directed by Jake Kasdan. It stars Bill Pullman as "the world's most private detective", Daryl Zero, and Ben Stiller as his assistant Steve Arlo. The plot of the film is loosely based on the Arthur Conan Doyle short story "A Scandal in Bohemia".
The film was shot in Portland, Oregon. It was scored by The Greyboy Allstars. It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival.