The Hound of the Baskerville, a tale of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was first published in serial form in 1901, then in book form in 1902. It's the story of an age-old curse and the deadly ramifications for the Baskerville family. The mystery goes back generations, but Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are on the case.
Where the Story Originated
The setting for the story came from Doyle's visit to the English moors. While there, he visited prehistoric ruins and heard tales about escaped prisoners and a local legend about a dog. From there, he developed the tale of the Baskerville hellhound, a terror that haunts the the family, and could mean the end of the Baskerville line.
Or does it?
Dr. Mortimer first brought the case to the attention of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Sir Charles Baskerville died under mysterious circumstances. If local legend is to be believed, the cause of death is an age-old curse, enforced by a gigantic, red-eyed hound.
Legend & Family History
According to a family manuscript, the curse was brought upon the Baskerville family by Hugo, who kidnapped a girl. When she escaped, he pursued her until she dropped dead, and he was supposedly killed by a giant, hellish hound. His men, who had followed behind him more slowly in the fog, said they saw the hound standing over his body as they came upon the scene. As the story goes: "standing over Hugo, and plucking at his throat, there stood a foul thing, a great, black beast, shaped like a hound, yet larger than any hound that ever mortal eye has rested upon."
In the ancient manuscript, Sherlock Holmes also reads: "Learn then from this story not to fear the fruits of the past, but rather to be circumspect in the future, that those foul passions whereby our family has suffered so grievously may not again be loosed to our undoing."
From that time, the family has experienced strange deaths, thought to have been associated with the ancient curse. As the manuscript says, "Nor can it be denied that many of the family have been unhappy in their deaths, which have been sudden, bloody, and mysterious." But, Sherlock Holmes questions whether the hound is really responsible for the death of Sir Charles, and the more recent terrors of the Baskerville family.
After all, isn't it just rather convenient that an age-old curse could take the blame for a murder?