Baker Street Wiki
Baker Street Wiki

"The Adventure of the Speckled Band" is one of the most famous short stories of the Sherlock Holmes adventures written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

A young woman named Helen Stoner contacts Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson for aid in foiling the villainous plans of her stepfather, Grimesby Roylott.


Sherlock Holmes wakes Dr. John Watson up early one morning, telling him that the housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson, roused him because a client has arrived, a young woman. Watson gets dressed, and they find their client waiting in Holmes' waiting room. She tells them that her name is Helen Stoner, and that she lives with her stepfather, Dr. Grimesby Roylott, the last survivor of the noble Roylott family of Stoke Moran. She explains that her mother met Roylott in India when she and her sister Julia were only two, but on their way back to England, her mother was killed in a railway accident. Despite this, they came to live in Stoke Moran. Holmes also learns that 250 pounds of the family money would go to each daughter once they married. Not to long later, though, Julia became engaged, after which she was killed in her very own room. The dying woman's words were: "The band! The speckled band!" Helen also tells them that Roylott let a gypsy camp stay nearby. After she leaves, Roylott himself appears and threatens Holmes to stay out of his business.

Later, Holmes and Watson journey to Stoke Moran and investigate. They make a good observation of everything in Roylott's bedroom, and Helen's bedroom. Helen reveals that her stepfather moved her to Julia's room after her death, which is now her bedroom. Holmes then says that he has solved the case, and tells Helen that he and Watson will be at an inn nearby to catch the killer in the act.

That night, Holmes and Watson find a swamp adder snake (the speckled band) trying to kill Helen, at which point Holmes attacks. The adder attacks the first person it sees, which just so happens to be the mastermind behind the case: Roylott. He is killed by his own murder weapon. Holmes explains how he solved the case, and admits that he felt completely responsible for Roylott's death; but that he is unlikely to feel much guilt over the death.

Complete Story Text[]


  • "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" is one of the most popular Sherlock Holmes stories. In 1931, it was turned into a film, starring Raymond Massey.
  • Conan Doyle himself listed it among his favourite Holmes tales.


  • "The Speckled Band", the second Sherlock Holmes dramatisation in history, written by Arthur Conan Doyle himself (as the third stage play in his writing career). Its premiere run was in 1909 and 1910 in London, first in the Adelphi Theatre and then in the Globe. The play starred H. A. Saintsbury, one of the first actors to portray Sherlock Holmes (along with American-born William Gillette before him), as well as Claude King as Dr. Watson. A revival of the play occured during the 1921 theatre season.
  • "Le ruban moucheté / The Speckled Band", a co-produced British-French film from 1912, by the Éclair film company. Starring early Sherlock Holmes portrayer Georges Tréville. The film is currently presumed lost.
  • "The Speckled Band", a British, English-language feature film adaptation from 1923, produced by British film company Stoll Pictures. It starred Ellie Norwood and Hubert Willis, and was part of a series of Sherlock Holmes silent film adaptations by the studio.
  • "The Speckled Band", another British interwar era film adaptation, from 1931, produced by British film company British & Dominions Film Corporation. It starred Raymond Massey and Athole Stewart. Some of the story's details and minor elements are slightly changed in this adaptation, particularly the names of some minor characters.
  • "The Spider Woman", a 1944 feature film, produced by Universal Studios. Starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, it borrows some elements from the original story, but is not an adaptation of it. This was the seventh film of the long-running Rathbone-and-Bruce film series of the 1930s and 1940s. Like other films in the series, the story is set in then-contemporary times, rather than the original story's 19th century.
  • The story was adapted for radio three times during the late 1940s. The first of these radio adaptations aired in November 1945, with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, a second one in June 1947 with Tom Conway and Nigel Bruce, and the third one in December 1948, with John Stanley and Ian Martin.
  • American broadcaster NBC Television aired a half-hour adaptation of the story in March 1949, as part of the anthology series Your Show Time. The adaptation starred Alan Napier and Melville Cooper.
  • "The Speckled Band", the pilot episode of the 1960s BBC television adaptations. Shot in black and white, first aired in May 1964. Starring Douglas Wilmer and Nigel Stock. It was originally aired as part of a 1960s BBC anthology crime series, Detective.
  • The American radio programming block CBS Radio Mystery Theater featured a one-hour adaptation of the story in June 1977.
  • "Acquaintance", the first episode in the 1979 first miniseries of the Soviet series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, is primarily based on this story. Starring Vasily Livanov and Vitaly Solomin.
  • "The Speckled Band", the 1984 episode of the ITV / Granada Television series, starring Jeremy Brett and David Burke.
  • BBC Radio 4 adapted the short story under the same name in 1991, as part of a long-term series of BBC radio adaptations of the whole Sherlock Holmes Canon, directed by playwright and radio drama director Bert Coules. The radio adaptation starred Clive Merrison and Michael Williams.
  • "The Speckled Blonde", one of the off-screen cases from the BBC series Sherlock, is a loose adaptation appearing on Dr. Watson's personal blog. The article on the blog is dated 13 July and is briefly glimpsed (along with two other cases) during the episode A Scandal in Belgravia.
  • A new British stage adaptation premiered in August 2013 at Treasurer's House in Ripley, North Yorkshire. The play starred Liam Tims and Alan Elms.
  • A new one-off radio adaptation of the story was aired in May 2016 by Indian radio broadcaster Radio Mirchi, as part of their Sunday Suspense programming block. This is a Bengali language adaptation and starred Mir Afsar Ali.

See also[]