London, Feb 21:
A a long-lost Sherlock Holmes story written by Arthur Conan Doyle for a fundraiser has been unearthed after lying in an attic for almost 50 years, a media report said.
The 1,300-word tale starring the famous detective is part of a book of short stories created to help raise money to build a new bridge in the Scottish town of Selkirk after it was destroyed in 1902, the Daily Mail reported.
The famous author, who visited the area often, decided to help locals by contributing to the ‘Book o’ the Brig’ – ‘Brig’ meaning bridge – which was sold at the three-day bazaar two years later.
Selkirk-based retired woodcutter Walter Elliot, 80, was given the 48-page pamphlet by a friend more than 50 years ago and had forgotten about it until recently after looking in his attic, the Mail report said.
The two-and-a-half page story, titled “Sherlock Homes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, by deduction, the Brig Bazaar”, is about the detective and his partner Watson’s trip to the town.
It is believed the story – about Holmes deducing Watson is going on a trip to Selkirk – is the first unseen Holmes story by Doyle since the last was published over 80 years ago.
He was prompted to write the tale after the town was struck by a great flood in 1902 and the town’s wooden bridge crossing the Ettrick river was washed away.
“In Selkirk there was a wooden bridge that was put up some time before it was flooded in 1902,” Elliot was quoted as saying.
According to him. the town did not have enough money to replace it and so it was decided decided to have a bazaar in 1904 raise funds.
“I can’t remember how much they raised but they wanted it to be a carriage bridge but they didn’t get quite enough for that, but they built an iron bridge and it’s still there today,” Elliot said.
“He (Doyle) really must have thought enough of the town to come down and take part and contribute a story to the book. It’s a great little story.”
The book — around ten inches long and three inches wide with a soft brown paper cover — contained stories from local people, as well as the famous author.
The back cover details a programme of events and proudly states “the famous litterateur” was due to open the day before the ladies orchestra performed and local piano recitals.
“It was a varied book with lots of bits and pieces and stories,” Elliott said.
Elliot, who has no idea how many copies were made and sold, says that he had this book “for about 40 or 50 years”.
“I must have got it from a friend because I can’t remember buying it from anyone,” he said.
“Usually people would throw out these books or sell them off. It has been in my family for quite a while now.”
The booklet will be on show at the Cross Keys Selkirk Pop-up Community Museum from Saturday, along with Elliot’s painting of the replaced bridge. IANS