“They were the footprints of a gigantic hound!” …and the audience shudders at the suggestion – a giant, demonic devil-dog that stalks the mysterious and desolate terrain of the vast moor where the tale is set, enacting a centuries-old blood curse on the Baskerville family. In many ways, it’s the perfect Sherlock Holmes story, and certainly the most well-known, having been adapted for stage and screen countless times (and in as many languages) since its first appearance as a Strand Magazine serialization in 1901.
In 1893, SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE had tired of his infamous creation, and killed Sherlock Holmes off at the hands of his arch nemesis, Professor Moriarty, in a dramatic plunge off the Reichenbach Falls in the appropriately-titled The Final Problem. Eight years later, in a response to public furor for more Holmes, the author wrote the story as a hitherto unpublished work from a period in the detective’s career prior to his fateful encounter with Moriarty. The Hound Of The Baskervilles was indeed a massive success, and CONAN DOYLE soon resurrected Holmes from the dead, continuing to write new adventures until 1927.
Just what is it about The Hound that has endeared itself to audiences more than any of the fifty-six short stories and four novels that CONAN DOYLE published in his lifetime? After all, this is a story that is fairly light on Sherlock Holmes himself, as he is absent for a fair amount of the action, faithful sidekick Dr. Watson standing-in as witness to a fair chunk of the action. The appeal may lie in that, of all the original Holmes adventures, this one closest resembles a horror story… and audiences do love a good fright.
The ingredients are perfect for an evening of thrills and terror… There is an unexplained death, a spooky old house that is drenched in the legacy of its own bloody history, strange sounds and lights in the night, an escaped inmate from a mental asylum loose upon the moor, and the piece-de-resistance: the Hound itself – a fierce, glowing supernatural presence that is horrific and bloodthirsty. Is it any wonder why the story holds a place among the great literary chillers of all time?