Judging the Book Illustration Competition is a unique experience. Where else would you get to see over 400 variations on a theme? This year’s entrants were asked to produce three illustrations – one for each of the three short stories we gave them – and a binding design, for our forthcoming edition of The Selected Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Because the stories are so short, it’s perhaps not surprising that many of the illustrators chose similar scenes and compositions for a particular story, some bearing striking similarities. Whilst judging the longlist – selecting just 24 entries from over 450 – we were naturally drawn more to the ingenious compositions, even if they were for a scene we’d seen illustrated again and again. Sometimes, as we judge, there will be one cover, or one illustration that we keep being led back to, that will spark more conversation than others and stay in our minds. None were so true as with our winning entry. [caption id="attachment_6254" align="aligncenter" width="678"] 'He saw his tall, spare figure pass twice in a dark silhouette against the blind.'[/caption] The allure of Irene Adler, ‘the woman’ as Holmes calls her, seems to grip Sherlockians worldwide, although this character is only featured in one short story, ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’, in the whole of Conan Doyle’s canon. So it was suitable that Max Löffler’s illustration depicting ‘the woman’ would cause arrest during the judging process. Conceived as an optical illusion, the billowing curtains become the silhouette of Irene, her shape enveloping Holmes within the room. His other entries were equally well thought out and knowing that he takes a conceptual approach in his work, the new edition – comprising of Max’s competition entries plus another five illustrations – should be astounding, and a unique take on this well loved and much depicted detective. [caption id="attachment_6255" align="aligncenter" width="678"] 'His name is Hugh Boone, and his hideous face is one which is familiar to every man who goes much to the City.'[/caption] [caption id="attachment_6256" align="aligncenter" width="678"] 'Where was the sun?" 'Over the oak.'[/caption] Our new edition of The Selected Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes will be released in our Christmas Collection 2018.