Denis Percy Stewart Conan Doyle

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
Denis Conan Doyle

Denis Percy Stewart Conan Doyle (17 march 1909, Windlesham - 9 march 1955, India) is the third child of Arthur Conan Doyle (the first child of his second marriage).

His Life

After the death of their father and mother (in 1930 and 1940), Denis and his brother Adrian, dedicated their time to motor-sport, lectures to promote spiritualism, manage the family literary heritage and especially spend the royalties of his father.

On 18 august 1936, in Bridgend (Wales), Denis married Nina Mdivani a "princess" of Georgian origin (the legitimacy of this title is still under debate). Upon his arrival in New York after his marriage, he told journalists that he constantly communicates with his dead father. "He never failed to advise me on my personal and professional relationships. Since his death six years ago, he always gave me good advice. The only time I have not followed his instructions I almost been killed."

It seems Denis and Nina didn't have money problems. In 1948, his wife lost a brooch decorated with precious jewels, hand-shaped encrusted with rubies on the nails, together with diamonds and emeralds on the Champs-Elysées in Paris. Time magazine wrote that she reported this loss... in the newspapers but did nothing more. "Even Sherlock Holmes would have alerted the police in such circumstances," quipped the head of the Paris police, "his stepdaughter had better contact us if she would find her pin." The French policeman, associating Denis as the son of Sherlock Holmes, probably remembered that in 1935, Nina had already lost 8000 dollars in jewelry in the street, where children had picked them up. The police got hold of it and had restored her jewelry.

Unlike her sister Jean, Denis chose to spend the years of war in the United States, where his lifestyle made him accumulate large debts and he was on the verge of bankruptcy at the time of his death, with a dispute pending for non payment of taxes to the IRS.   Denis was very early a car enthusiast and participated in races with his brother Adrian. One day, he purchased a model of the famous Chitty Bang Bang (Chitty 1) of Count Louis Zborowski (this car inspired the writer Ian Fleming for his Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), with which he took part in some competitions in the 1930s.

Like his brother Adrian, he did not like the sherlockians that give his father the role of literary agent (as Watson is the writer). Invited to the banquet of The Baker Street Irregulars in New York in 1940, after hearing the series of toasts dedicated to Sherlock Holmes, he turned to his table neighbor, Edgar W. Smith, and whispered, "I don't understand! The name of my father was not mentioned." "No other writer," Smith replied, "not even Shakespeare, can boast of creating a believable character to the point that readers imagine him without author."

"But what role my father is supposed to have played in all this?" asked Denis. "Nobody can believe that Dr. Watson is the author." Smith then explains the concept of the BSI. "It was Watson who wrote the reports of investigations, of course. Sir Arthur was, so to speak, his literary agent." The young Denis then shook his head in disapproval. Relationships between him and the BSI would never be good.

Denis, a world traveler, died in 1955 at age 46 during one of his trips to India, leaving no descendants.

Read Obituary.


Birth certificate (17 march 1909). GRO Ref. : 1909/Jun/UCKFIELD/02B/112.