Famous Novelist And Spiritualist Dead

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Famous Novelist And Spiritualist Dead is an article published in The Citizen (Gloucester) on 7 july 1930.

Obituary of Arthur Conan Doyle.

Famous Novelist And Spiritualist Dead

The Citizen (Gloucester) (7 july 1930, p. 1)




First Wife a Minsterworth Lady.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the famous novelist and well-known spiritualist died at Crowborough this morning.

He had been ill since November last, and illness is attributed to his work Scandinavia in October, when gave a series of lectures on spiritualism.

Lady Conan Doyle, two sons and one daughter were at the bedside. Sir Arthur had lived at Crowborough for the past 22 years he took a great interest in local sports, especially billiards.

Detective Fiction.

As the creator of the famous detective of fiction, Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ensured for himself a special niche in the temple of fame. His name will also be coupled for ever with that of Oscar Slater the Jew who was wrongfully imprisoned for the alleged murder of old woman and for whose release he worked unceasingly for eighteen years.

During the years of his life, however, novel writing, travelling, and all his other interests were subordinate to his investigations into Spiritualism and psychic research.

Sir Arthur was born in Edinburgh on May 22, 1859, and was educated at Stoneyhurst and Edinburgh University. He took his degree as a doctor of medicine, and went into practice at Southsea in 1882. He had always had the flair to write, but for the first ten years his efforts did not bring him very much return. He said that it was because general inanity of detective stories written at the time that he created Sherlock Holmes. Soon after up his practice and devoted himself to literary work.

Bowled "W.G."

He was a great sportsman, intensely interested in boxing, billiards and cricket among other things. It is recorded that once took the wicket of the immortal "W.G." and he admitted that one of his most ingenious stories of the cricket field was based on actual facts. "I was batting in a match," he said, "and looked like sticking when A. P. Lucas sent the ball high in the air. It came down sheer. What could I do? I swiped at it, missed it, knocked my own stamps, flying and smashed my bat." Sir Arthur's story told how a bowler did the same thing and skittled out an Australian Test side.

As a matter of fact, the name Sherlock Holmes owes its origin to cricket. Sir Arthur would never say where he got the "Holmes," but "Sherlock" was a bowler of whom he scored a number of runs in an M.C.C. game.

It was not to long ago that the great anchor finally "killed" Holmes. Then he said, "I fear that Mr. Sherlock Holmes may become like one of those popular tenors who having outlived their time, are still tempted to make repeated farewell bows to their indulgent audiences."

Oscar Slater Case.

Sir Arthur did not confine his interest in criminology to his novels. The case of Oscar Slater who was imprisoned for 18 years on a false conviction for the murder of a Miss Gilchrist, attracted his attention and sympathy right from the very outset. He steadfastly maintained that Slater could not possibly be guilty of the crime, and he worked year after year to right what he considered — and what was eventually proved to be — a hideous injustice.

It was largely due to the efforts of Sir Arthur, who went to the lengths of writing a book about the Slater trial, that a re-trial was ordered and the man released.

Survival After Death.

Spiritualism and psychic research, in which he was joined and assisted by Lady Doyle, claimed by far the greater part of the time of the creator of Sherlock Holmes for many years before his death. For about 15 years he was engaged in active mission work for Spiritualism, and he travelled all over the world in this pursuit. He believed profoundly in personal survival after death, but made the admission once that there were times when doubt crept into his mind, and he was impelled to go all over the ground again, but, as he said, "Always when I have finished my judgment... tells me there is no error."

He related the story of a man of 80 years whom he converted to a belief in survival from the Spiritualistic standpoint. "He used to come to our meetings and speak," said Sir Arthur. "When he was 83, he said from the platform, 'I am three years old, and there' — pointing to me — 'is my father.' Soon he died in great peace. After he had lain rigid for some minutes, and all thought that life had gone, he opened his mouth and cried in a loud voice, 'God bless Conan Doyle.' Then he returned into death. That cry from the grave was one of the rewards which have come to me as ample payment for my work."

Married Minsterworth Lady.

Sir Arthur was married twice. His first was Miss Louise Hawkins, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. Hawkins, of Highgrove, Minsterworth, near Gloucester, whom he married in 1885, and by whom he had one daughter and a son. Mr. Hawkins was a cousin of the late Mr. G. Vyner-Ellis, of Minsterworth Court. Sir Arthur's second wife, the present Lady Doyle, he married in 1907. She was a daughter of James Blyth of Leckie of Blackheath. There were two sons and one daughter of the marriage.

The great author's first son. Kingsley died during the War, and Sir Arthur declared that was paid "daily visits" by Kingsley. "His life intermingled with mine," he said. "He counsels and guides me, and interests himself in the smallest details in my life."

The death of Kingsley was often said to have been the start of his father's interest in spiritualism, but it is a fact that years before he was first married Sir Arthur Doyle was member of the Psychic Circle.