Plot Summary of the Adventure of the Resident Patient

Updated on April 7, 2018
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Colin has been reading as long as he can remember, and the works of Conan Doyle were some of the early works that kept him reading.

Sherlock Holmes and the Resident Patient

The Adventure of the Resident Patient is a short Sherlock Holmes story that sees the detective investigate a case brought to him by Dr Percy Trevelyan. A man by the name of Blessington has set up the doctor in practice, with Blessington staying as a resident patient within it. Holmes though has to find out just why the Resident Patient is so worried.

Publication of the Adventure of the Resident Patient

The Adventure of the Resident Patient was written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for publication in the August 1893 edition of the Strand Magazine, and was therefore published the month after the publication of The Adventure of the Crooked Man.

The Adventure of the Resident Patient would subsequently be republished in the compilation work The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes in 1893.

Since its initial publication there have been several different versions of The Adventure of the Resident Patient published. These variations occurred because the opening elements of The Adventure of the Cardboard Box were reused when it was decided that The Adventure of the Cardboard Box was too controversial for further reprints.

Short Review of the Adventure of the Resident Patient

As with a good number of Sherlock Holmes stories, initially there doesn’t seem much of a crime for Holmes to investigate in The Adventure of the Resident Patient; the man named Blessington simply having employed a doctor. When faced with the facts though, Holmes is immediately worried for the safety of the Resident Patient.

Blessington though, doesn’t want the assistance of Sherlock Holmes, and so Holmes decides to drop the case, although the death of Blessington soon puts the detective back on it.

The Adventure of the Resident Patient is not a story where the reader can solve the Holmesian case alongside the detective, as most of the pertinent facts are only revealed late on in the story. So rather than a who dunnit, The Adventure of the Resident Patient is simply a good story to read.

With The Adventure of the Resident Patient Conan Doyle once again shows that it is not always legal justice that deals with criminals, and as with The Adventure of the Five Orange Pips, natural justice that eventually sees the downfall of the criminals.

The Adventure of the Resident Patient was adapted by Granada TV, an adaptation which saw Jeremy Brett play Sherlock Holmes. This episode of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was first aired on the 15th September 1985.

The Adventure of the Resident Patient

Holmes and Watson

Sidney Paget (1860-1908) PD-life-70
Sidney Paget (1860-1908) PD-life-70 | Source

Spoiler Alert - Plot Summary of the Adventure of the Resident Patient

There are various versions of The Adventure of the Resident Patient, but the longest versions starts with Holmes and Watson sitting in their rooms at 221B Baker Street. Though the friends are sitting in silence, Holmes is able to break into Watson’s thoughts simply by observing the doctor. Holmes is able to deduce Watson’s feelings about the treatment of Henry Ward Beecher by observing where Watson was looking.

The story then continues with Holmes and Watson taking a stroll around London, and this is where the first version of The Adventure of the Resident Patient commences.

When Holmes and Watson return from their walk, they find that Holmes has a new client, one Dr Percy Trevelyan; and the new client is quick to present his problem to the detective.

Trevelyan had been an academically proficient medical student, and during his studies had written a very well received paper on nervous diseases. Trevelyan though did not come from a wealthy background, and when he had qualified he had been unable to set himself in practice.

After some time though, a benefactor had appears at Trevelyan’s door. This benefactor was a man named as Blessington, and Blessington had provided the finance to Trevelyan, enabling him to set up a practice in a prominent part of town.

As part of the deal though, Blessington would take 3/4 of the practice’s daily profits, and the benefactor would also become the practice’s resident patient; Blessington seemingly suffering from a number of ailments.

Trevelyan was more than happy with the arrangement, but a week prior to visiting Holmes, the daily routine of his practice had suddenly changed. Blessington had read a newspaper report about a burglary, something which had put him strangely on edge, and as a result the resident patient had insisted on increasing the practice’s security arrangements.

At the same time, a new patient had arrived at the practice; this new patient was a Russian nobleman, who was accompanied by his son.

When the pair first visited the practice, Blessington had been absent, the resident patient having gone for an evening stroll.

Trevelyan had examined the elder of the two Russians, whilst the son had waited in the adjoining waiting room; the Russian nobleman was supposedly suffering from cataleptic fits. During the examination, the Russian gentleman had suffered a fit, but when Trevelyan returned to the examination room, the doctor was astounded to find that the patient and his son had disappeared.

The next day though, the pair had returned to the practice, and the son explained that when he had seen his father exit the examination room, he had thought the examination was over. This time Trevelyan was able to undertake a more normal examination whilst the son waited in the waiting room.

The Russians

Sidney Paget (1860-1908) PD-life-70
Sidney Paget (1860-1908) PD-life-70 | Source

After the two Russians had left, Blessington returns to the practice, the resident patient once again having gone for a walk, and promptly erupts. It would appear that in his absence, someone had entered his room. Indeed, there were clear footprints showing this, but nothing seems to have been taken; it is obvious though that it must have been the son who had entered the room, whilst his father was being examined.

This brought an end to Trevelyan’s story, but Holmes was immediately worried for the safety of Blessington, and so without delay, Holmes, Watson and Trevelyan set out for the doctor’s practice.

Holmes and Watson hardly find themselves welcomed by Blessington though, for the resident patient opens the door with a gun in his hand.

Holmes recognises that Blessington is scared for his life, but the resident patient refuses to offer up any sort of explanation, aside from the fact that there is money in his rooms; and indeed it is clear that the attention of Holmes is not welcome.

Holmes realises that he has been lied to, for the room could have been burgled by the Russuans, and it is clear that Blessington knows who the Russians are, but at the same time Holmes is unwilling to help someone who will not confide in him.

The next morning though, sees Holmes and Watson returning to the Trevelyan practice, for overnight, Blessington has hanged himself.

At the practice, Blessington’s corpse still hangs from a hook in the ceiling, and Inspector Lanner of Scotland Yard believes that it is a clear case of suicide. Holmes though has other ideas, and examining the cigar ends found in the room, concludes that there were two other men in the room the previous night. It seems that the two Russians had gained access overnight.

Entrance to the practice seems to have been engineered by the new member of staff at the practice, who had subsequently disappeared.

Holmes has convinced the police that it is a case of murder they are dealing with, rather than suicide, and as a result further investigations reveal that Blessington was really a man by the name of Sutton.

Sutton had previously been a member of the notorious Worthingdon Bank Gang. The gang had comprised five men, Sutton, Cartwright, Biddle, Moffat and Hayward, and the five had successfully robbed the Worthingdon bank. During the robbery though, the caretaker of the bank, a man by the name of Tobin, had been killed.

In order to gain clemency for his crime, Sutton had given evidence against the other four gang members, resulting in Cartwright being hanged, and the other gang members being given sentence of 15 years.

It was news of the early release of Biddle, Moffat and Hayward that had caused Blessington to improve the security measures of the practice, but of course the remaining gang members had found him. In revenge for the hanging of Cartwright, the others in the gang had hanged Blessington/Sutton.

Scotland Yard is now looking for the gang members, and Holmes suggest that the sword of British justice is needed. It is not British justice that deals with the missing gang members though, for Scotland Yard do not catch up with the Worthingdon Bank Gang, and it is believed that the three die when the ship Norah Creina sinks off of Oporto.

Blessington

Sidney Paget (1860 - 1908) PD-life-70
Sidney Paget (1860 - 1908) PD-life-70 | Source

The Adventure of the Resident Patient

  • Date of Events - 1881
  • Client - Dr Percy Trevelyan
  • Locations - London
  • Villain - The Worthingdon Bank Gang

Questions & Answers

  • Who is Percy Trevelyan?

    Percy Trevelyan was a doctor trained at London University and had researched at King's College Hospital. A specialist in nervous disorders, Trevelyan had been in need of capital to set up his practice before Blessington had come along.

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