Penguin Readers Factsheets

T e a c h e r’s n o t e s

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The Hound of the Baskervilles
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

more apparent than when he gave a lecture on spiritualism in Amsterdam shortly before his death in 1930. Ignoring the lecture’s title, many of the questions from the audience were about Sherlock Holmes. Conan Doyle refused to answer them and told the audience he had nothing more to say about the detective or his cases.

he Hound of the Baskervilles is one of Conan Doyle’s most famous mysteries featuring the detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his friend, Dr Watson.


The eerie mists of Dartmoor form the setting to the sinister events at Baskerville Hall. When Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead, the people living in the neighbouring area are sure that he didn’t die from natural causes. Strange sightings of a giant fire-breathing hound and stories from the past have convinced them of this. The new heir to the property, Sir Henry Baskerville, arrives from Canada determined not to let the stories frighten him away from his new home. He braves the loneliness of the moors, takes pleasure in getting to know his neighbours, and is careful to follow the advice and guidance of the great detective, Holmes. Holmes and Watson slowly unravel a tangle of mystery as the case takes them deep into the heart of the Baskerville family.

Few fictional characters are as well known around the world as the amateur private detective Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes was ‘born’ in 1887 when Conan Doyle’s first full-length detective story, A Study in Scarlet, was published. At the time of Sherlock Holmes’ creation, Victorian society was in a state of unease as new thoughts and ideas threatened to undermine traditional beliefs. The Industrial Revolution had brought about the rapid development of industry, railways, commerce and engineering. Along with this came revolutionary scientific theories which shocked many people. Darwin’s Origin of Species, published in 1859, put forward the theory of evolution, and so questioned the Christian beliefs that had been dominant until then. There also occurred the rise of a new class of rich factory owners, who capitalized on the poor, particularly women and children. The Victorian conscience was eventually stirred by the revelation of this exploitation in the works of authors such as Dickens and Charles Kingsley. Tales of mystery, where social problems were rarely confronted, grew in popularity during the Victorian age. The success of Wilkie Collins’ Woman in White, published in 1860, lead the way for further novels of mystery, crime, detection and suspense. When Sherlock Holmes solved his first mystery in Strand Magazine in 1887, he was an immediate success with readers. People often wrote to the editor of Strand asking if Holmes was a real person. Dr Watson, who relates all the Sherlock Holmes stories, acts as a foil to Holmes. The sparkling brilliance of Holmes’s sharp mind shines as he explains to Dr Watson, and thus to the reader, how he has solved each mystery. The solutions to the Sherlock Holmes mysteries are reached through reason and, perhaps because of Conan Doyle’s interest in the supernatural, there is often an air of the unexplained and macabre about them.

Arthur Conan Doyle was born on May 22nd 1859 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He studied at Edinburgh University and became a doctor. Interestingly, he had a strong resemblance to his fictional character - Dr Watson - both in nature and looks. He was solid, extrovert and patriotic, with strong views on things such as the importance of the British Empire and the stupidity of modern art. However, his Irish ancestors gave him a wilder, Celtic streak that ran through his life and writings. Conan Doyle, like Holmes, had very acute powers of observation. He had a very practical mind but also a great imagination. He developed an interest in spiritualism while he was a doctor in Southsea; an interest that comforted him when his youngest son, Kingsley, died of pneumonia in the First World War. Conan Doyle joined the Society for Psychical Research and for nearly 30 years carried out a series of experiments in telepathy and spiritual investigations. Finally, at the peak of his literary career, he wrote two books on spiritualism – The New Revelation and The Vital Message. Conan Doyle rather resented the success of his Sherlock Holmes books, feeling that they overshadowed his more important historical and scientific books. This was never

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Penguin Readers Factsheets T e a c h e r’s n o t e s Written in 1902. and eccentric characters who clearly have something to hide. Chapters 5–8 Put students into small groups.’ Discuss the meaning of this statement. someone is having an affair. etc. ‘Dark’ is a word that is constantly used to describe Baskerville Hall and Dartmoor. sinking wet ground roar (n) a very deep loud noise Chapters 9–12 divorce (n) when a marriage is legally ended reputation (n) the opinion people have of someone or something straw (n) dried sticks of wheat put down for animals to sleep on Chapters 13–15 phosphorous (n) a chemical ACTIVITIES BEFORE READING THE BOOK Divide the class into groups. unexplained noises.) Chapters 1–4 article (n) a piece of writing in a newspaper or magazine avenue (n) a road or a path black sheep (n) someone who is thought to be bad by the rest of their family or group cab (n) taxi cigar (n) rolled tobacco which people smoke confess (v) to tell the truth about a bad thing you have done dressing gown (n) a long loose coat that you wear before getting dressed fate (n) a power that is believed to control people’s lives gigantic (adj) very big hounds (n) dogs used for hunting moor (n) an area of high ground covered with rough grass naturalist (n) someone who studies plants and animals yew (n) a type of tree with dark green leaves Chapters 5–8 carriage (n) a vehicle with wheels that is pulled by a horse mire (n) an area of soft. have travelled much. Divide the class up into small groups and give each group a character from the book. Conan Doyle builds the tension in the novel through mysterious happenings.’ Because his mind is uncluttered and free of trivia. and the resulting novel is rather more gothic than other Holmes stories. Doyle was inspired to write the story after hearing a West Country legend. Make sure they think about the style of the letters as well as the picture. Further supplementar y exercises covering shorter sections of the book can be found on the photocopiable Student’s Activities pages of this Factsheet. ‘The world is full of clear things which nobody notices. Ask them to discuss what effect this has on the writing. level 5 Chapters 9–12 Put students into pairs. As Holmes says to Watson. The groups write down what they know about that character and then what sort of life they think that character has had – whether they © Pearson Education 2000 Pub lis hed an d dis tribut ed by Pe arson Educ atio n Factsheet written by Mary Tomalin Fact sh eet ser ies dev elo ped by Louis e James . ACTIVITIES AFTER READING THE BOOK Discuss with students what they carry around in their pockets or handbags. and ask them what this says about you as a person. good and bad. Ask them to go through the book and make a list of all the clues we have learnt so far which might lead to the mystery being solved. As in all Sherlock Holmes stories. Characteristics. Doyle thus shows good and evil in permanent opposition to each other throughout the ages. the solution to the mystery is found through Holmes’ observation of tiny details. Have a whole-class feedback session. Doyle develops this theme in the The Hound of the Baskervilles. Give each group a different character from the book. which might show that the person is guilty. Ask groups what the front cover of the reader is trying to say about the book and how well it does this. Each group writes down some ‘strange and meaningless’ things that might happen in these situations. Give each pair a paragraph in the book to rewrite from the 1st person into the 3rd person. For example. Communicative activities The following teacher-led activities cover the same sections of text as the exercises at the back of the reader. Glossary It will be useful for your students to know the following new words. Chapters 13–15 Write on the board what Holmes says: ‘The stranger and more meaningless an event seems. The Hound of the Baskervilles is one of the best-known tales of Sherlock Holmes. run through generations of families. Holmes notices these small things. We see traits in the modern Baskerville family that are reminiscent of the family members a century earlier. Show them what you have in your bag/pocket. and have a class discussion. someone has committed a murder. Have a whole-class feedback session. These are primarily for use with class readers but. Evil is shown to be stronger in the hours of darkness. through the eyes of Dr Watson. They are practised in the ‘Before You Read’sections of exercises at the back of the book. The feeling of menace created through the descriptions of the hall and the moors contrasts sharply with the warm cosiness of Baker Street. Do students have any ideas so far on the solution? Ask them to tell the class. can also be used by students working alone in a self-access centre. Then have a class discussion and write all the clues on the board. and supplement those exercises. Divide the students into small groups and give each group a different situation. what their childhood was like etc. menacing weather. Write the main points on the board. the more closely it should be considered. What does the cover tell them about the plot or the themes? Write the main points on the board. They discuss what this character would carry around with them. (Definitions are based on those in the Longman Active Study Dictionary. and why. ACTIVITIES AFTER READING A SECTION Chapters 1–4 Put students into pairs. and come to some conclusions about why Conan Doyle wrote the story in the 1st person. with the exception of discussion and pair/group work questions.

..................... Sir Henry. Try not to look at the book...... chases....Penguin Readers Factsheets Student’s activities level E 1 2 3 4 5 The Hound of the Baskervilles Photocopiable These activities can be done alone or with one or more other students... Activities before reading the book Read the Introduction in the book........ (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) What nationality was Conan Doyle? What was his first job? How old was he when he became a full time author? Why did he go to South Africa? Where were Conan Doyle’s short stories about Sherlock Holmes first published? (f) What other types of book did Conan Doyle write? (g) How did the death of his son affect him? (h) When did Conan Doyle die? How old was he? 2 Work with another student............... 3 Have you learnt anything in these chapters which may help solve the mystery? If so..... (d) One night he followed .. plan....... in the night.. Watson meets Mrs Bar rymore.. breakfast......... Chapters 7 & 8 Fill in the gaps in the sentences with the words below..... and (e) .... along the edge of the (d) ...... walk. Example: ‘I can laugh at a joke like anybody else.... whether for good or for evil....... He realizes that she was the person he heard (b) ...... and who do they say them to? What are they talking about? (b) Change the sentences from direct speech into reported speech in the past tense.................... Sir Henry told Holmes that he could laugh at a joke like anybody else............... A: (a) excited (b) deeply moved (c) impatient (d) satisfied (e) angry B: (i) Doctor Mortimer (ii) Sherlock Holmes (iii) Sir Henry Baskerville © Pearson Education 2000 ...... (b) He comes to see Holmes because ............. Stapleton (f) ..........’ 2 Work with a partner. Activities while reading the book CHAPTERS 1–4 Chapters 1 & 2 1 On the first page of the book. Then close your book and answer these questions.... (e) He and the girl were found dead.. ‘Now is the moment of fate... Stapleton.... ....................... foothold.. (c) Sir Hugo Baskerville owned Baskerville Hall in 1650..............’ How does this sentence sets the mood (atmosphere) of the book? Now talk to another student.. Pair/group-only activities are marked..... (i) ‘He is quite old....... Do you agree with each other? 2 Finish these sentences.... He takes a (c) ............ and is a man of good life and simple tastes........’ (ii) ‘Did you know that you were followed this morning?’ (iii) ‘I tell you. this time we have an enemy worth fighting.................... surprises.. Write down all the things in these chapters that seem to be unusual or unnatural... ... .. mire................... Holmes says to Watson. There was a terrible thing ....... crying....................... Can you think of a way to explain any of these events? 3 Answer these questions (a) What does Holmes like to do when he is thinking hard? (b) What hobby does Holmes have? 6 UPPER INTERMEDIATE CHAPTERS 5–8 Chapters 5 & 6 1 (a) Who says the sentences below............ a small fly Chapters 3 & 4 1 Which people in B have the feelings in A? Find sentences in these chapters that show this... He was a ..... ..............’ Sir Henry Baskerville speaking to Holmes about his missing boots.. Check your answers in the book................ (f) Over 200 years later.... You are Watson and Holmes...................... Watson by asking him if Holmes has come to a decision about the (g) ....... Watson describes to Holmes how he felt when he first saw Baskerville Hall and the surrounding moors............ Holmes asks him questions to make him explain the details.. (a) Dr James Mortimer is a .. Stapleton (h) ... Sir Charles Baskerville is found .... moor... make a note of it.. meets... ............ footsteps......... death......... of Sir Charles. back to London After (a) ... Watson.... when you hear on the stairs a step which is walking into your life... but they have gone a bit too far this time.. but this time someone had gone too far...

.. (b) Watson writes to Holmes: ‘I have a feeling of danger all the time – a danger all the more terrible because I cannot describe it.... (a) Holmes sends a report to Princetown about the death of Seldon......... He and Sir Henry make a (n) .......... wild..... In the night Watson hears (m) .. (d) Watson sees a man on a rock............ and tells him to go (l) .. passing his room.. Holmes tells Laura Lyons that Stapleton is married.... sad....... desperate. (h) Holmes and Watson look for Stapleton on Grimpen Mire..’ What reasons does Watson have for feeling this? (k) Holmes tells Sir Henry that he and Watson are returning to London..... Activities after reading the book Talk to another student... (d) Mrs Stapleton is found tied to a post.... How do you think Laura Lyons will help Holmes and Watson discover the truth? Why will she want to help them? 3 Answer these questions......... (a) Why does Watson follow Sir Henry out on to the moor when Sir Henry goes out hoping to meet Miss Barrymore? (b) What does he witness? (c) What excuse does Stapleton give for his behaviour? 2 Are these sentences true or false? (a) The escaped prisoner is Mrs Barrymore’s elder brother.... CHAPTERS 9–12 Chapters 9 & 10 1 Answer these questions......... . pretty. Try not to look at the book.. (b) Watson and Sir Henry go out onto the moor to give the prisoner some food. 3 Talk to a partner.. (e) Laura Lyons wrote a letter to Sir Charles and he burnt it. deceitful. Miss Stapleton thinks that Watson is (k) ..... (a) How does Holmes know that Watson is in the hut? (b) Who was the man Watson saw on the night he and Sir Henry went out after Seldon? (c) Why does Stapleton want people to think his wife is his sister? (d) Who does Watson describe as ‘the man of iron’... Did you guess who the murderer was before Holmes tells the reader? Do you think The Hound of the Baskervilles is a good detective novel? Did you enjoy it? © Pearson Education 2000 Publishe d and d istribu ted by P ear son Ed ucat ion Fact s heet wri tt en by M ary To malin F act shee t s eri es d evel ope d by L ou ise J ames .Penguin Readers Factsheets Student’s activities across the (i) ........ patient..... but cannot find him......... Watson and Lestrade position themselves around Merripit House..... fire-breathing hound chases Sir Henry across the moor. kind 2 Talk to another student.... Do you ever feel this? Chapter 15 Answer these questions................. (f) Holmes discovers that Stapleton is a Baskerville... (a) How many men are living out on the moor? What are they like? Make notes. anxious.... (b) Laura Lyons tells Holmes that Stapleton stopped her from keeping her appointment with Sir Charles.. . and which three best describe Mr Stapleton? cunning. 2 Talk to another student...... (e) A gigantic.. (g) The mist begins to sur round Merripit House..... (i) (j) Holmes kills the hound. (c) Holmes...... without losing his (j) . Conan Doyle writes about the ‘powers of evil’ being stronger in the darkness. ..... (c) Watson and Sir Henry think they hear a ghost on the moor. (e) Who dies on the rocks of the moor? Why do Holmes and Watson mistake him for someone else? (f) What makes Stapleton such a dangerous enemy? level 5 CHAPTERS 13–15 Chapters 13 & 14 1 Put these events in the right order........ (a) What relation was Stapleton to Sir Charles? (b) What killed Sir Charles? (c) Why did Stapleton steal one old boot and one new boot from Sir Henry? (d) Why did Holmes pretend to be in London when he was hiding on Dartmoor? (e) Why did Stapleton encourage the friendship between Sir Henry and his wife? Chapters 11 & 12 1 Which three adjectives best describe Laura Lyons...... happy......

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