Conan Doyle Dead
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
Conan Doyle Dead is an article published in the The Daily Echo (Northampton) on 7 july 1930.
Obituary of Arthur Conan Doyle.
Conan Doyle Dead
The Creator of Sherlock Holmes.
Attack on Church Ritual Recalled.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author, creator of Sherlock Holmes, and Spiritualist, died this morning at Crowborough, where he had lived for the past 23 years.
Lady Conan Doyle, two sons, and one daughter were at the bedside.
He had been ill since November last, and his illness is attributed to his work in Scandinavia in October, when he gave a series of lectures on Spiritualism.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would wish his fame to rest upon his beliefs in communication between the living and the dead. It is more likely, however, that Sherlock Holmes will be the medium of his immortality.
Sir Arthur was born in Edinburgh on May 22, 1859. He wrote his first book of adventure at the age of six and illustrated it himself, but his literary career dated more correctly from 19 years of age, when his first short story was published in Chambers' Journal. After Stonyhurst, Doyle studied medicine at Edinburgh University, and it was the inductive methods of his professor, Dr. Bell, that led to the creation later on of the most famous detective in fiction.
TOOK W.G.'s WICKET.
He was an enthusiastic and useful cricketer in his younger days, and once took the wicket of the great "W.G." He was caught behind the stumps, and Sir Arthur well remembered that he got some runs himself in that match.
In those days there was a famous bowler named Sherlock, "I cannot really be certain," he said a little while ago, "but it is possible that the name of the bowler Sherlock stuck in my mind, and Holmes also may owe its origin to cricket."
In later years his hobbies were golfing and billiards.
After taking his degree as M.D. at Edinburgh, Doyle was in medical practice for eight years at Southsea, and later was senior physician of the Langmanfield Hospital, South Africa.
THE OSCAR SLATER CASE.
Sir Arthur vigorously espoused the cause of Oscar Slater, who was sentenced to imprisonment for life for the alleged murder of Marion Gilchrist. Believing that there had been a grave miscarriage of justice, he conducted a strenuous campaign for the re-opening, of the case. In this he was ultimately successful, and Slater was acquitted. A little later, however, Sir Arthur sued Slater for part of the costs of his defence, but the matter was eventually settled amicably.
In a remarkable open letter written in June, 1929, Sir Arthur said, "We are about to die, you and I. My age is just 70, and I suppose an actuary would give me five more years. It may be ten, it may be only one. Who can tell?"
Sir Arthur claimed to have had conversations with the spirit of Cecil Rhodes at his grave in the Matoppo Hills, and also with Lord Haig and Joseph Conrad.
"I pledge my honour that Spiritualism is true," said Sir Arthur a few months ago, "and I know that Spiritualism is infinitely more important than literature, art, or politics, or in fact anything in the world."
In the cause of Spiritualism he travelled extensively and lectured in all parts of the world. In the psychic museum which he established in Victoria-street are shown many photographs and records of the phenomena in which he was so deeply interested.
In 1900 Sir Arthur contested Central Edinburgh as a Liberal Unionist, and Hawick Burghs as a Tariff Reformer in 1906, but he probably exerted greater political influence when he called upon all Spiritualists to oppose the Tory Government in the general election of 1929.
He led a bitter tirade against organised Christianity, the principal attack being levelled against the sacraments and the ritual of church services. In one of his books he asked: "Has any heathen tribe anything more fantastic than this in its ritual, and can we ever expect the affairs of this world to be normal while we profess to hold views in religion which no sane man could justify? If such things have come from the priesthood, then it is time that all priesthood should be swept away and that the community should take their religious affairs into their own hands."
Sir Arthur was twice married, and his first wife died in 1906. He leaves a widow, two daughters, and two sons.
"WILL OFTEN SPEAK TO US."
Questioned as to whether Sir Arthur had spoken before his death of communicating with his family after his death, Mr. Adrian Conan Doyle, one of his sons, said, "Why, of course. My father fully believed that when he passed over he would continue to keep in touch with us. There is no question that my father will often speak to us just as he did before he passed over. I know perfectly well that I am going to have conversations with him. We shall miss his footsteps and his physical presence, but that is all.
"We will always know when he is speaking, but one has to be careful, because there are practical jokers on the other side as there are here. It is quite possible that they may attempt to impersonate him. But there are tests which my mother knows, such as little mannerisms of speech which cannot be impersonated, and which will tell us that it is my father himself who is speaking."