Introduction to The Adventure of the Speckled Band

“The Adventure of the Speckled Band” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is one of Doyle’s many stories about the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. It was originally published in Strand Magazine in 1892, and it is now included alongside the other Holmes stories in collected volumes. The story was later adapted for the stage by Doyle himself, and it is consistently regarded as one of Doyle’s best works. Sherlock Holmes and his unique methods of solving mysteries have become defining features of the detective genre, and no discussion of the genre is complete without a discussion of Doyle’s works.

“The Adventures of the Speckled Band” is an early example of the locked-room mystery trope, which is often said to have originated with Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” This trope relies on a setting in which a criminal would have a difficult time committing the crime and escaping undetected. It was often a means by which more outlandish theories and criminal efforts could be introduced to otherwise realistic fiction. In Doyle’s story, Holmes and Watson assist a bride-to-be in discovering how her sister died. As the investigation goes on, themes surrounding moral and physical decay, greed, and violence emerge, and it is up to Holmes and Watson to solve the mystery before their client meets the same fate as her sister.

A Brief Biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930) was a British writer and physician. His father’s alcoholism led the family to disperse at one point, though they later reunited in relative poverty. Doyle’s education was funded by wealthy relatives, and he would go on to study medicine, serving as the resident surgeon aboard several ships. He later unsuccessfully tried to establish his practice on land, only to end up pursuing writing. Much to Doyle’s chagrin, his best-known and best-loved stories were those about the now-famed fictional detectives Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. On several occasions, Doyle attempted to kill off Holmes or price out his publishers from buying more stories, but the demand was high enough that they were willing to pay large sums. Doyle became one of the highest-earning authors in England as a result. In addition to Holmes, Doyle also wrote historical fiction, of which he was significantly more fond and proud. His non-literary interests included architecture, spiritual mysticism, and politics.

Frequently Asked Questions about The Adventure of the Speckled Band

The Adventure of the Speckled Band

As Sherlock Holmes discovers in the course of his investigation, Dr. Roylott has close connections with India. It turns out that Roylott spent a lot of time in the country, first as a medical...

Latest answer posted November 29, 2020, 11:15 am (UTC)

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The Adventure of the Speckled Band

When Sherlock Holmes first meets Helen Stoner, he can see that she is agitated and fearful. He makes note of her "restless frightened eyes" and her hair that has prematurely gone grey. She looks...

Latest answer posted November 29, 2020, 11:35 am (UTC)

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The Adventure of the Speckled Band

When Miss Helen Stoner comes to visit Sherlock Holmes, she tells him about her sister Julia's mysterious death two years ago. Her sister's dying words were “The speckled band!” Miss Stoner cannot...

Latest answer posted November 29, 2020, 11:36 am (UTC)

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The Adventure of the Speckled Band

Dr. Roylott has been following his stepdaughter Helen Stoner and is naturally curious to know what business she could possibly have with Sherlock Holmes. When he shows up at 221B Baker Street,...

Latest answer posted November 29, 2020, 11:38 am (UTC)

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The Adventure of the Speckled Band

At the beginning of "The Adventure of the Speckled Band," Helen Stoner explains her family situation to Holmes and Watson. She is the daughter of Major-General Stoner of the Bengal Artillery, who...

Latest answer posted November 29, 2020, 5:14 pm (UTC)

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The Adventure of the Speckled Band

Several nights before her death, Julia hears a low whistling sound in her room at about three o’clock in the morning. On the night of her death, Julia tells her sister Helen about these whistling...

Latest answer posted November 27, 2020, 12:51 pm (UTC)

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The Adventure of the Speckled Band

As Helen Stoner explains to Sherlock Holmes, it was customary for her and her late sister Julia to lock their bedroom doors at night. This was because their wicked stepfather, Dr. Roylott, kept a...

Latest answer posted November 28, 2020, 11:25 am (UTC)

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The Adventure of the Speckled Band

In "The Adventure of the Speckled Band," Dr. Roylott dies from being bitten by a poisonous snake. Dr. Roylott has devised an ingenious and diabolical scheme to murder both his stepdaughters before...

Latest answer posted November 28, 2020, 11:29 am (UTC)

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The Adventure of the Speckled Band

When Holmes wakes Watson early in the morning at the beginning of "The Adventure of the Speckled Band," he refers to a young lady "in a considerable state of excitement" who insists on seeing him...

Latest answer posted November 28, 2020, 11:34 am (UTC)

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The Adventure of the Speckled Band

With Dr. Roylott out of the house and unlikely to return to Stoke Moran before evening, it's a good opportunity for Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to go snooping around his bedroom to see if they...

Latest answer posted November 28, 2020, 11:45 am (UTC)

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The Adventure of the Speckled Band

After inspecting Ms. Stoner's bedroom and the adjacent room belonging to Dr. Roylott, Holmes and Watson retire to a room in the inn across from the Manor House to keep watch for Ms. Stoner's...

Latest answer posted November 28, 2020, 11:56 am (UTC)

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The Adventure of the Speckled Band

Dr. Grimesby Roylott is considered to be the main antagonist of Arthur Conan Doyle's short story "The Adventure of the Speckled Band." Like most of Doyle's antagonists, Dr. Roylott is the classic...

Latest answer posted November 28, 2020, 12:39 pm (UTC)

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The Adventure of the Speckled Band

In "The Adventure of the Speckled Band," Miss Helen Stoner visits Sherlock Holmes and Watson in fear of her life. Her sister recently died mysteriously after becoming engaged. Her sister's last...

Latest answer posted November 26, 2020, 11:42 am (UTC)

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The Adventure of the Speckled Band

Holmes and Watson wait for many hours in the darkness of Julia’s room before anything of interest happens. However, a little after the clock ticks three, the two men see a light gleam in Dr....

Latest answer posted November 26, 2020, 1:46 pm (UTC)

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The Adventure of the Speckled Band

When Holmes and Watson find the dead body of Dr. Roylott at the end of "The Adventure of the Speckled Band," Watson says that Roylott "had a peculiar yellow band, with brownish speckles, which...

Latest answer posted November 27, 2020, 11:20 am (UTC)

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The Adventure of the Speckled Band

Miss Helen Stoner is relating her mysterious story to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. As part of that torrid tale, she fills in her auditors on some of the background detail concerning her...

Latest answer posted November 27, 2020, 11:30 am (UTC)

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The Adventure of the Speckled Band

In "The Adventure of the Speckled Band," Helen Stoner visits Sherlock Holmes because she has a case for him to investigate. The fact that she calls on Holmes early in the morning (it is 7:15 am...

Latest answer posted November 27, 2020, 11:41 am (UTC)

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The Adventure of the Speckled Band

Ever since the serpent in the story of Adam and Eve, snakes have been commonly used as symbols of all that is foul, wicked, and depraved. And the deadly swamp adder in Conan Doyle's "The Adventure...

Latest answer posted November 27, 2020, 11:49 am (UTC)

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The Adventure of the Speckled Band

When his step-daughter Julia becomes engaged to be married, Dr. Grimesby Roylott realizes that he will lose a portion of the wealth he inherited from his wife; thus, he plots to kill her with the...

Latest answer posted November 27, 2020, 12:02 pm (UTC)

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The Adventure of the Speckled Band

There are four main characters in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's short story "The Adventure of the Speckled Band." Sherlock Holmes, the great detective, needs no introduction to modern readers, but since...

Latest answer posted November 26, 2020, 12:01 pm (UTC)

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Summary