The Adventure of the Yellow Face is a short story starring the characters Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. It was written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1893. He was commissioned to write it for Strand Magazine, with original illustrations by Sidney Paget. Sidney Paget was a frequent illustrator of Doyle’s work. It is one of 56 short stories following Holmes’ and Watson’s adventures, and it is the third work in “The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.”
At the point of The Adventure of the Yellow Face’s publication, Holmes was an established character in British culture. Short stories about him had been published since 1891, and people devoured any story with a mention of him.Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Scotland in 1859. He went to school to eventually become a doctor. All the while, he wrote and published short stories and academic articles. Doyle’s start occurred about when he wrote A Study in Scarlet and submitted it to Ward Lock and Co. The company bought all rights to the story for only 25 pounds. Conan Doyle later disassociated himself with Ward, as he felt the company exploited him and underpaid him for his work. The later Holmes stories were published in the Strand magazine.
The Adventure of the Yellow Face is remarkable in that it is one of few stories in which Holmes’ powers of deduction are proven wrong. Holmes makes an erroneous deduction, but even because of this, the truth is eventually discovered. This is characterized in a quote from the story, spoken by Watson, “where he failed it happened too often that no one else succeeded... Now and again, however, it chanced that even when he erred the truth was still discovered."
This was one of Doyle’s more sentimental stories. It has a completely happy ending in which all plot lines are completely resolved. The story is also known for its treatment of race. It shows a marriage between a black man and a white Englishwoman. In England, interracial marriage has always been legal and the fact that a white woman was married to a black man is not frowned upon. Originally, it is kept a secret, but the race of the man had nothing to do with the secret. It was kept a secret because of the feared reaction of the new husband to a child. However, this depiction of African-Americans in Doyle’s story does contrast with his racial caricature of a black man in the much later “The Adventure of the Three Gables.” That was much more stereotype based, different than the healthy portrayal in The Adventure of the Yellow Face.