Author and Sportsman

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Author and Sportsman is an interview of Arthur Conan Doyle written by a journalist of The Argus (Melbourne, Australia) on 2 october 1920.

Author and Sportsman

The Argus (2 october 1920)

Sir A. Conan Doyle's Visit.

Can detective stories be literature?, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, does not think so. "The main thing," he said yesterday, chatting, at Menzies' Hotel after his arrival from Adelaide, "is to make your detective as sharp as possible, and to get some genuity into the plots. The stories should be clear-cut, but always with certain reservations, so as to maintain the interest of the reader to the conclusion. There is not much room for literary style."

Asked whether he had any favourites among his books. Sir Arthur named "The White Company" and "Sir Nigel." In these, he said, he hoped that he had caught the spirit of an early English period which had not been overworked by other novelists, "I also enjoyed writing 'Rodney Stone,'" he added, "with its pictures of the bucks of the Regency."

And its boxing episodes?

"Yes, I had always taken an interest in boxing, though my own form in it was only fair. It is not generally known that I was asked referee the Johnson-Jeffries fight in America. I considered the proposal carefully, but I did not feel inclined to travel thousands of miles, and possibly to, have to face a hostile demonstration from the supporters of the beaten man, whichever it might be. During the war I refereed a large number of army contests, in which the feeling of the onlookers was always sport-manlike. I'm looking forward to seeing the football match to-morrow, and to studying the points of the Australian game".

You still take an interest in cricket, too?

"As far as possible. I was late in getting into first-class cricket — I had so many other things to think of - but in the only year I seriously gave to it I was rather proud of having a batting average of 38, and of having taken the wicket of the great W.G."

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a big, breezy man, grey haired and blue eyed, with an open-air look and a pleasant, friendly manner. This is his first visit to Australia, but his books arc very well known here. Lady Doyle, who came into the flower adorned sitting-room for a few minutes, is a brunette, with dark bright eyes. "I do not find much time for writing now," said Sir Arthur, in reply to a question, "but it is quite possible that I shall write some more stories. When I return from New Zealand I may give readings from my stories and novels. I have written the last volume of my war history. In treating of the war one of my chief aims was accuracy, and I travelled widely in the area of operations to ensure it. Before I left London there was some talk of making my history the 'interim official history' while the large official work was being prepared."

The father and grandfather of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were artists, and two of his uncles were "Dicky" Doyle, the celebrated "Punch" artist, and James Doyle, who wrote and illustrated in colours "The Chronicles of England." Sir Arthur was engaged in medical practice until his successes as an author caused him to take up definitely a literary career. His hooks make, a long list of historical, romantic, and modern novels, detective tales and other short stories, war histories, and miscellaneous writings.