Alfred H. Wood

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
Major Alfred Herbert Wood

Major Alfred Herbert Wood aka "Woodie" (23 april 1866 - 19 april 1941) was a school master who became friend, private secretary and business manager to Arthur Conan Doyle from 1897 to 1930.


Obituary in the Portsmouth Evening News (22 april 1941), p.4

Alfred H. Wood was born in Portsmouth (Hampshire, England) on 23 april 1866. Member of an old Portsmouth family, he was educated at the Portsmouth Grammar School and in his last year there, had the unusual experience of being Hon. Secretary the Church Congress which met at Portsmouth. Winning an open scholarship to Brasenose College, Oxford, he took his M.A. [1] degree, and returned to Portsmouth as a master at the Grammar School.

Alfred Wood was initiated to the Phoenix Lodge of Freemasons (No. 257) in 1895 and became W.M. in 1904. At the time of his death he was Treasurer. He was also P.P.J.G.D. [2] in the Provincial Grand Chapter of Hants and Isle of Wight, and was a member of the Authors' Club Lodge (No. 3456). In Royal Arch Masonry was P.Z. [3] of Friendship Chapter (No. 257) and P.P.G.S.N. [4] in the Provincial Grand Chapter. He was also interested in the Phoenix Mark Lodge (No. 2).

For many years Alfred Wood was a member of the Royal Albert Yacht Club, latterly acting as Hon. Secretary. He was keenly interested in the work of the Victoria Nursing Association, being Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Portsmouth branch.

He had played cricket for Hampshire and also on occasions for the Hampshire Hogs and Hampshire Rovers, and was a member of the M.C.C. (Marylebone Cricket Club). He was formerly for 15 years President of Portsmouth Football Association. Arthur Conan Doyle played in both teams as well.

In may 1905, he joined the Hindhead Golf Club, and was elected to the committee. In 1906, he was elected Honorary Treasurer.

Throughout the Great War he served in France in the 5th Royal Sussex Territorials, where he was Town Major of Beauquesne. He also served in Italy in 1918.

Major Wood died at 75 in Southsea, Hampshire, England on saturday 19 april 1941. He was bachelor. He is buried at Highland Road Cemetery.

Wood and Conan Doyle

Between 1882 an 1890, he met Arthur Conan Doyle in Southsea when Conan Doyle was practising medicine and they became close friends.

On 6-7 september 1892, he played cricket with Conan Doyle (as captain) in the cricket team The Idlers versus Norwood. Match Drawn.

In 1897, Alfred Wood became private secretary of Arthur Conan Doyle.

In may 1905, he joined the Hindhead Golf Club, where Conan Doyle was also member.

On 6 july 1906, he was present at Conan Doyle's first wife funerals. According to Georgina Doyle (Out of the Shadow, Calabash Press, 2004), Lena Jean Conan Doyle told that Wood's nephew told her that Alfred Wood felt it was easier to work as secretary under Louisa's regime than under Jean's.

On 20 october 1906, Arthur Conan Doyle, Innes Doyle, Fletcher Robinson, Alfred Wood and his nephew Sholto Wood played golf at Hindhead.

On 15 august 1907, Conan Doyle and Wood played cricket for the Authors vs the Actors. Actors won.

On 17 september 1907, he was present for Arthur Conan Doyle's wedding-eve dinner party at The Gaiety Restaurant.

In 1916, during his visit to the war front, Conan Doyle met Wood in Beauquesne and Amiens. See Conan Doyle's report in Memories and Adventures

From august 1920 to march 1921, he accompagnied Arthur Conan Doyle and his family for his Australian lecture tour. See Conan Doyle's report in The Wanderings of a Spiritualist.

In march 1925, he took entries for the billiards competition at Windlesham.

Wood was often writing letters dictated by Conan Doyle (examples from 1904 to 1928) :

In his will, Arthur Conan Doyle bequeathed to Wood £250 per year for life.


The 1st footage from the Conan Doyle 16 minutes home movie (Richard Lancelyn Green collection) shows Alfred H. Wood with a chauffeur and another man.


Major Wood, a model of Dr. Watson ?

Arthur Conan Doyle never stated that his friend Alfred H. Wood was a model for Dr. Watson. But his son Adrian in a private letter to Pierre Nordon suggested the idea:

« ... My father never disclosed the model for Watson. It is my own opinion that he used Wood and I think that we have a stronger case than any other to support that supposition. Major Wood was, in common with Watson, a very clear-cut type. He was a thickset moustached Englishman, intelligent without being brilliant, reliable and a keen sportsman. Bearing in mind my father's power of character drawing coupled with my own knowledge of Major Wood, I have no doubt whatever that Wood was the matrix from which Watson was hewn. Wood was a friend of my father's in Southsea when he was first writing the original Holmes book. When my father moved to Norwood, Wood was a frequent visitor, and, about 1897, became his secretary. He was working daily with my father at the time of the Edalji, Slater cases, etc., and, as I can confirm from personal knowledge, over a period of years, he was as much a foil to my father as Watson was to Holmes. » (Adrian Conan Doyle, 15 february 1957)

Also, the description of Watson : « He was a middle-sized, strongly built man — square jaw, thick neck, moustache... » (CHAS 433, april 1904) is a striking resemblance with Alfred Wood.

Note that Alfred H. Wood had a nephew named Sholto Wood. Bartholomew and Thaddeus Sholto were the twin sons of Major John Sholto in Arthur Conan Doyle's novel: The Sign of Four (1888).

Cricket matches with Conan Doyle

Date Matches R W C Res Loc
29.08.1884 Borough of Portsmouth v. Hanover Rovers [5] 2 Won Southampton
28.08.1886 Portsmouth C.C. v. United Service (Men's) Club 22 Draw Portsmouth
08.09.1886 Portsmouth C.C. v. Sarisbury C.C. 115 3 1 Draw Portsmouth
14.09.1887 Portsmouth v. United Services 5 Draw Portsmouth
26.06.1888 Portsmouth C.C. v. Fareham 0 5 1 Won Portsmouth
09.08.1888 South Hants Rovers v. Ye Olde Carawan 35 4 1 Draw Adhurst St Mary
30.08.1888 Portsmouth v. Southampton 7 2 0 Won Portsmouth
14-15.09.1888 Portsmouth v. Winchester C.C. 16 3 1 Lost Southampton
01.06.1889 South Hampshire Rovers v. Royal Navy 4 1 0 Won Portsmouth
04.07.1889 Portsmouth v. Southampton 1 1 0 Lost Southampton
27.07.1889 South Hampshire Rovers v. Portsmouth Grammar School [6] 63 0 2 Lost Portsmouth
28.06.1890 Hampshire Rovers v. Portsmouth Grammar School [7] 24 2 1 Lost Portsmouth
18-19.07.1890 Hampshire Rovers v. Green Jackets 0 Draw Winchester
20-21.08.1890 United Services v. Free Foresters 33 1 0 Lost Portsmouth
25-26.08.1890 United Services v. M.C.C. 16 5 0 Draw Portsmouth
28-29.08.1890 Hants County XI v. Nineteen Young Players 9 4 1 Won Winchester
15.09.1890 Portsmouth v. Winchester 13 1 2 Lost Southampton
20-21.05.1892 Hampshire Rovers v. United Services 59 3 1 Won Portsmouth
06.09.1892 Norwood v. The Idlers 8 0 1 Draw South Norwood
??.06.1896 Hampshire Rovers v. Army Medical Staff (Netley) 4 3 1 Won Netley Hospital
10-11.08.1896 Hampshire Rovers v. Littlehampton 32 3 0 Lost Littlehampton
20-21.08.1896 Hampshire Rovers v. Kensington C.C. 100 Draw Portsmouth
24-25.08.1896 Hampshire Rovers v. Old Malvernians 12 Draw Portsmouth
09-10.08.1897 Hampshire Rovers v. Littlehampton 6 7 1 Lost Littlehampton
22-23.07.1898 Hampshire Rovers v. United Services 45 7 1 Draw Portsmouth
01.08.1898 Undershaw v. Haslemere 12 Won Haslemere
03.08.1898 Undershaw v. Mr. Turle's Eleven 12 Won Churt
04.08.1898 Undershaw v. Churt 28 Won Churt
05.08.1898 Undershaw v. Captain Clerk's Eleven 65 Won Churt
21-22.07.1899 Hampshire Rovers v. United Services 57 7 1 Won Portsmouth
23-24.08.1899 Incogniti v. Hampshire Rovers [8] 29 1 0 Draw Portsmouth
03-04.06.1901 Incogniti v. Sherborne School 57 3 0 Draw Sherborne
05-06.06.1901 Incogniti v. Lansdown 45 5 0 Draw Bath
07-08.06.1901 Incogniti v. Cheltenham College 43 5 0 Draw Cheltenham
19-20.07.1901 Hampshire Rovers v. United Services 106 0 4 Draw Portsmouth
02.08.1901 Dr. Conan Doyle's XI v. Eashing 65 2 0 Lost Eashing
02.08.1902 Undershaw v. Eashing 49 3 4 Won Lynchmere
04.08.1902 Undershaw v. Haslemere 8 1 1 Won Haslemere
05.08.1902 Undershaw v. Frensham Hill 32 0 0 Won Frensham Hill
07.08.1902 Undershaw v. Broadwater 53 0 0 Won Godalming
08.08.1902 Undershaw v. Lynchmere 10 7 0 Won Lynchmere
06.08.1903 Sir A. Conan Doyle's XI v. Broadwater 0 0 0 Won Broadwater
07.08.1903 Sir A. Conan Doyle's XII v. Eashing 3 0 0 Lost Eashing
21.06.1904 M.C.C. v. Hawick and Wilton 54 0 1 Won Hawick
22.06.1904 M.C.C. v. Gala 58 0 1 Won Galashiels
23.06.1904 M.C.C. v. Selkirk 0 0 2 Won Philiphaugh
24-25.06.1904 M.C.C. v. South of Scotland 56 0 1 Won Galashiels
30.07.1904 Broadwater v. Army Service Corps 40 Draw Broadwater
19.05.1905 Authors v. Artists 116 0 0 Won Esher
26-27.05.1905 Hants Rovers v. United Services 34 0 0 Draw Portsmouth
13.07.1905 Lythe Hill v. Incogniti 63 0 1 Lost Haslemere
21-22.07.1905 Hampshire Rovers v. United Services 62 6 1 Draw Portsmouth
31.07.1905 Undershaw v. Haslemere 135 6 1 Won Haslemere
01.08.1905 Undershaw v. Broadwater 4 2 2 Won Broadwater
02-03.08.1905 Undershaw v. Frensham Hill 0 0 2 Draw Frensham Hill
04-05.08.1905 Undershaw v. Lythe Hill 51 0 0 Won Lythe Hill
26.05.1906 M.C.C. v. R.M.C. (Sandhurst) 24 0 0 Won Camberley
16.06.1906 Broadwater v. Army Service Corps 17 0 3 Draw Broadwater
24-25.05.1907 Hampshire Rovers v. United Services 12 0 1 Draw Portsmouth
15.06.1907 M.C.C. v. Charterhouse School 0 0 0 Draw Godalming
19.06.1907 M.C.C. v. Egypt and the Soudan 14 0 1 Won St John's Wood
20.06.1907 M.C.C. v. Aldenham School 0 5 0 Lost Elstree
29-30.07.1907 M.C.C. v. Royal Navy 19 0 0 Draw St John's Wood
15.08.1907 Authors v. Actors 0 0 0 Lost St John's Wood
01.06.1908 Blue Mantles v. Lewes Priory 11 4 0 Lost Lewes
05.06.1908 Tunbridge Wells v. Fulham 1 0 0 Draw Tunbridge Wells
30.06.1908 Blue Mantles v. Mr. F. H. Gresson's XI 21 0 0 Draw Crowborough
09.07.1908 M.C.C. v. Egypt and The Soudan 26 0 0 Lost St John's Wood
15.07.1908 M.C.C. v. The Mote 2 2 2 Lost Yalding
16.07.1908 Authors v. Actors 0 0 0 Draw St John's Wood
28.07.1908 Blue Mantles v. Upper Tooting 18 0 1 Draw Tunbridge Wells
14-15.08.1908 Blue Mantles v. Mr. J. F. Hope's XI 1 0 0 Lost Tunbridge Wells
27.05.1911 Sussex Martlets v. Lewes Priory 6 0 3 Draw Lewes
03.06.1911 Sussex Martlets v. Eastbourne College 12 0 0 Draw Eastbourne
08.06.1911 Sussex Martlets v. Mr. F. H. Gresson's XI 13 0 1 Lost Crowborough
10.06.1911 Sussex Martlets v. Westminster School 50 2 1 Draw Westminster
25.05.1912 Sussex Martlets v. Lewes Priory 4 0 0 Won Lewes


  1. Master of Arts
  2. Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon.
  3. Past Zerubbabel
  4. Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah.
  5. Alfred H. Wood was in opponent team.
  6. Alfred H. Wood was in opponent team.
  7. Alfred H. Wood was in opponent team.
  8. Alfred H. Wood was in opponent team.