Conan Doyle and Boer Monument

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Conan Doyle and Boer Monument is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in the Cape Times (Cape Town, South Africa) on 5 december 1928.


  • Cape Times (5 december 1928 [ZA])
  • Star (Johannesburg) (5 december 1928 [ZA])
  • Die Volksblad (6 december 1928 [ZA])

Conan Doyle and Boer Monument

Cape Times (5 december 1928, p. 10)

An Inscription Not Understood.

An Apology to Bloemfontein

Reuter South African Press Agency.


Tuesday. — The statement of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in which he described to a representative of "Die Volksblad" that the National Women Monument in Bloemfontein, erected in honour of the women and children who died in the Boer War, was a "lie and a blot in this place," has caused a storm of indignation among the Dutch-speaking as well as amongst the English-speaking community here.

Sir Arthur, with his secretary, paid a visit to "Die Volksblad" office this morning, and handed in the following letter for publication tomorrow:

Sir, — I hold myself responsible for anything which I may write, but I do not feel the same responsibility towards the words reported in an interview, for, however, honest and correct it may be, much depends upon the circumstances, and the way in which it was said. No one has written more sympathetically of the Boers than I, and I paid my due respects, hat in hand, at the grave of General De Wet.

When, however, I examined the monument, my ignorance of Dutch led me astray, and deciphering the words, which seemed to be to attribute the death of these poor women and children to their treatment by the British. I used a rather warm expression with regard not to the monument but to the statement which would naturally pain any Briton.

It has been shown me that I misinterpreted the real meaning of the phrase, and, this being so, I cannot do less than express my regret and withdraw the remark. I would be sorry, indeed, to leave Bloemfontein after causing pain to any section of its inhabitants.

Yours faithfully,

(Sgd.) Arthur Conan Doyle