The Hound of the Baskervilles

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The Hound of the Baskervilles is one of the four crime novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle featuring the detective Sherlock Holmes. Originally serialised in the Strand Magazine from August 1901 to April 1902, it is set largely on Dartmoor in Devon in England's West Country and tells the story of an attempted murder inspired by the legend of a fearsome, diabolical hound.

Contents

Origins

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote this story shortly after returning to his home Undershaw from South Africa, where he had worked as a volunteer physician at the Langman Field Hospital in Bloemfontein.

He was assisted with the plot by a 30-year-old Daily Express journalist called Bertram Fletcher Robinson (1870–1907). His ideas came from the legend of Richard Cabell, which was the fundamental inspiration for the Baskerville tale of a hellish hound and a cursed country squire.

Cabell's tomb can be seen in the Devon town of Buckfastleigh.[2][3]The legend is as follows:

Squire Richard Cabell lived during the 17th century and was the local squire at Buckfastleigh. He had a passion for hunting and was what in those days was described as a 'monstrously evil man'. He gained this reputation for, amongst other things, immorality and having sold his soul to the Devil. There was also a rumour that he had murdered his wife. On the 5th of July 1677, he died and was laid to rest in 'the sepulchre,' but that was only the beginning of the story. The night of his interment saw a phantom pack of hounds come baying across the moor to howl at his tomb. From that night onwards, he could be found leading the phantom pack across the moor, usually on the anniversary of his death. If the pack were not out hunting, they could be found ranging around his grave howling and shrieking. In an attempt to lay the soul to rest, the villagers built a large building around the tomb, and to be doubly sure a huge slab was placed on top of the grave to stop the ghost of the squire escaping.[4]

Moreover, Devon's folklore includes tales of a fearsome supernatural dog known as the Yeth hound that Conan Doyle may have heard.

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