Death of Conan Doyle
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
Death of Conan Doyle is an article published in the The Midland Daily Telegraph on 7 july 1930.
Obituary of Arthur Conan Doyle.
Death of Conan Doyle
CREATOR OF "SHERLOCK HOLMES."
FAMOUS NOVELIST & SPIRITUALIST
DEVOTED WORK TO PSYCHIC RESEARCH.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died at Crowborough this morning. 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.
Lady Conan Doyle and the two sons and one daughter were at the bedside when Sir Arthur passed away.
Though it seems certain that Sir Arthur would wish his fame to rest upon his labours for Spiritualism, there is no doubt that the medium of his immortality will be his literary genius, especially as the creator of "Sherlock Holmes."
SIR ARTHUR'S FAME
APOSTLE OF SPIRITUALISM.
DEVOTION AND SACRIFICE OF LATTER YEARS.
SPORTSMAN AND BELIEVER IN MODERN YOUTH.
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 nineteen years of age, when his first short story was published in Chambers' Journal. After being educated at Stoneyhurst, 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.
He was an enthusiastic and useful cricketer in his younger days, and once took the wicket of the great "W.G." 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."
WROTE 60 BOOKS AND PLAYS.
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 Langman Field Hospital, South Africa. At Twenty-eight, he introduced "Sherlock Holmes" in "A Study in Scarlet," and a few years later produced his masterpiece, "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes." In all he wrote over 60 books and plays.
Sir Arthur vigorously espoused the cause of Oscar Stater, who was sentenced to imprisonment for life for the alleged murder of Marion Gilchrist. Believing that here bad 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.
HIS BELIEF IN SPIRITUALISM.
In a remarkable open letter written in June, 1929, Sir Arthur said:—
"We are about to die, you and I. My age is just seventy, and I suppose an actuary would give me five more years — it may be ten or it may be only one. Who can tell?"
Perhaps thin may have been pre-vision by one who was a firm believer in spiritualism and the power of the living conversing with the dead. He claimed to have had conversations with the spirits 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 Sir Arthur 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.
ATTACK IN RITUAL.
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.
SON'S FINE TRIBUTE.
Mr Adrian Conan Doyle, one of Sir Arthur's sons, paid one of the most remarkable tributes to his father ever made by a son, in an interview to-day.
"He was a great man and splendid father," he said, and was loved and was happy because he knew it, by all of us. He had had heart trouble for six or eight months, but recently it had been easier, and he had suffered less pain. Then two days ago came a sudden turn for the worse, and he died peacefully at 9.30 to-day. My mother and father were lovers after 30 years as they were on the day they were married. Their devotion to each other at all times was one of the most wonderful things I have ever known. She nursed right through his illness to the end
"His last words were to her, and they show just how much he thought of her. He simply smiled up at her and said: 'You are wonderful.' He was in too much pain to say a lot. His breathing was very bad, and what he said was during brief flashes of consciousness. Never have I seen anyone take anything more gamely in all my life. Even when we all knew he was suffering great pain he always managed during the time he was conscious to keep a smile on his face for us.
TIRED OF SHERLOCK HOLMES.
It was in May last, on his 71st birthday, that Sir Arthur, in an interview with a Press Association reporter, said that he was tired of "Sherlock Holmes," that he feared another European war in 26 or 30 years, and that he thought modern youth marvellous.
"To tell you the truth," he said, "I am rather tired of hearing myself described the author of 'Sherlock Holmes.' Why not for a change — the author of 'Rodney Stone' or of 'The White Company,' or of 'Brigadier Gerard' or of 'The Lost World.'? One would think I had written nothing but detective stories."
Lady Doyle interposed that the only time Sir Arthur was gloomy was when he visualised the world in 25 or 30 years.
"I foresee another European war as a certainty unless the Treaty of Versailles is modified," Sir Arthur replied. He added, "All this twaddle about youth being decadent was talked before the war. Never was there a better generation of young men and women than that of to-day. They are freer in thought and speech, but that is to the good. Really they are marvellous."
"MESSAGES FROM THE DEAD.
Sir Arthur's interest in Spiritualism was also well-known. He told a meeting of the International Spiritualists' Congress, held in London in September, 1928, that he had been in conversation with the late Field-Marshal Earl Haig and the late Joseph Conrad, and he showed on a screen a number of spirit photographs.
"You know that Lord Haig was a Spiritualist?" he told his audience. "Within two days of his death, or it might have been three, he sent me a long message which had every sign of being evidential and truthful. It was a message that would only appeal to his relatives. I sent it to them."
At this same meeting Sir Arthur showed what he claimed to be a unique collection of psychic pictures.
BREACH WITH PSYCHICAL RESEARCH SOCIETY.
In March this year something of a sensation was caused by the announcement that Sir Arthur had resigned from the Society for Psychical Research, of which he had been a member for 36 years. In a lengthy letter to the Chairman of the Council, Sir Lawrence Jones, intimating his resignation, Sir Arthur described the influence of the society "as entirely for evil," and stated that for a generation it had done no constructive work of any importance.
Sir Oliver Lodge to-day paid an eloquent tribute to Sir Arthur's work for spiritualism. "I fear the South Africa trip was too much for him," he said. "He never spared himself when the cause was at stake. Much more than most of us, he regarded himself as an apostle or missionary, and threw himself and all his belongings into the movement. Even among those impressed with the magnitude of the issue, few are willing to sacrifice themselves to the same extent. His period of service is not ended."
VISITS TO COVENTRY.
Sir A. Conan Doyle visited Coventry on several occasions in the early years of this century, when he played for the M.C.C. in annual cricket matches against C. and N.W. at Stoke Ground.