6. The Case of Lady Sannox

The Case of Lady Sannox is a short story written by Conan Doyle in 1893 as part of his Round The Red Lamp series of medical stories. A gothic masterpiece, the story is still shocking to this day…

The episode can be heard here: http://doingsofdoyle.podbean.com/.


Douglas Stone is one of the most outstanding surgeons operating in 1890’s London. He is also one of the least morally restrained. His sensual excesses are infamous, as is his affair with the former actress, Marion Dawson, now Lady Sannox.

One night, as he prepares for another appointment with his mistress, Stone receives a visitor: a bearded Turkish gentleman whose wife requires an emergency operation on her lip after cutting herself with a poisoned dagger. The surgeon hesitates, but the fee is too attractive.

He operates on the veiled patient to remove the infected lip. There is a blood-choked scream, the veil is removed and, in the shock of recognition, Stone’s brilliant mind lurches into madness. He has kept his appointment with Lady Sannox whose husband is a vengeful man…

Writing and publication history

In 1892, Jerome K. Jerome, editor of The Idler, commissioned Conan Doyle to write 6-8 short stories. Conan Doyle proposed a series of medical-themed stories.

Conan Doyle only submitted four stories to The Idler, of which three were printed.

The Case of Lady Sannox was first published in The Idler in November 1893, around the time that the Sherlock Holmes stories The Naval Treaty and The Final Problem appeared in The Strand.

The Conte Cruel

Hale, Terry (ed), Daedalus Book of French Horror: The Nineteenth Century (1996).

Related Conan Doyle works

Through the Magic Door (1907) in which Conan Doyle discusses the literature that influenced him - https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=Through_the_Magic_Door.


Translations of The Arabian Nights by Antoine Galland (1704-17), Edward W Laine (1841) and Sir Richard Francis Burton (1846).

Elaine Showalter, Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture in the Fin de Siecle (New York, Viking, 1990).

Robert Darby, editor of Round the Red Lamp and other Medical Writings (Missouri, Valancourt Press, 2007).


Play: ‘The Black Mask’ (1899) by F Marriott Watson.

CBS TV Series ‘Suspense’ – The Case of Lady Sannox (27 Dec 1949, 27’): Starring Stella Adler (Lady Sannox), Henry Brandon (Douglas Stone), Berry Kroeger (Lord Sannox). https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=The_Case_of_Lady_Sannox_(TV_episode_1949).

BBC2 TV Series ‘Late Night Horror’ – The Kiss of Blood (24 May 1968): Starring Diane Cilentro (Lady Sannox), Roy Dotrice (Douglas Stone), Charles Workman (Lord Sannox).

BBC Choice TV ‘The Fear’ – The Kiss of Blood (31 July 2001): Book at bedtime format, read by Neve McIntosh (who played Beryl Stapleton in the Richard Roxborough version of The Hound of the Baskervilles in 2002).

Sherlockian connections

Next time on the Doings of Doyle…

Conan Doyle’s pirate adventures featuring the dreaded Captain Sharkey. Read them here: https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php/Sir_Arthur_Conan_Doyle:Captain_Sharkey.


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Image credits: Thanks to Alexis Barquin at The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopaedia for permission to reproduce these images. Please support the encyclopaedia at www.arthur-conan-doyle.com.

Music credit: Sneaky Snitch Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons:  By Attribution 3.0 License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/