Memories and Adventures is a 1924 autobiography by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the late-Victorian writer most famous for his creation of fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Doyle was a physician, a Spiritualist, and a prominent public figure. His autobiography describes his adventures whaling in the deep Arctic, his experiences in medical practice, his religious epiphanies, and his efforts as a British apologist during the Boer war. Although Holmes is a figure of central interest to scholars concerned with fin de siècle culture, fan studies, and the literature of detection, Doyle’s autobiography has received relatively little critical scrutiny, and the majority of the scholarly attention it does receive is in introductions to collections of Holmes stories as a source of biographic material. To an extent, this is unsurprising—Doyle’s Spiritualism, for example, seems incongruous, given the empirical tendencies of his most famous creation. However, the book holds some special appeal from a history of science perspective, and an annotated edition, backed up with letters, images, and historical background, would provide an original biographical perspective on the complex figure who conceived the Great Detective.
Minimal Viable Product
Memories and Adventures is an ideal length for a scholarly edition, and creating such a work would be a worthwhile contribution to Holmes studies. However, the creation of a digital scholarly edition could also be limited to the initial release of a small set of annotated Holmes stories rather than a full critical edition of Doyle’s autobiography, a move that could provide a proof of concept. Thus, my MVP could be a set of critically annotated Holmes stories presented on an existing cross-platform publishing platform, such as iBooks or an open-source alternative.
Larger Scope Project
A more substantial version of the project would be a Holmes digital archive or Doyle omnibus, which would be a much more substantial undertaking. Alternatively, I could focus more on the platform, rather than using preexisting tools to create a larger book-length commentary. This would actually be timely, since as of now there are actually few satisfactory or comprehensive alternatives for publishing critical editions online—most current platforms are focused on textbooks or lack features that make them attractive on tablets. (I’m looking at you, Scalar.)
Whether I go with the short stories or the full edition, an intertextual, archival, and multimedia approach built on a modern distribution platform would enable the digital edition to go beyond critical commentary to include some of the elements of an archive. A digital edition constructed around the capabilities of the modern tablet could incorporate high-resolution images and illustrations, “tours” of prominent locations, interviews with Doyle scholars, facsimiles of original editions, and other materials usually reserved for an archive.