How the World Will End

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

How the World Will End is an article written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published (posthumously) in the Sunday Express No. 603 on 20 july 1930.


How the World Will End

Sunday Express No. 603 (p. 106)

A Strange Prophecy And A Description Of The "Last Day."

This extraordinary document, which purports to tell what the "Last Day" and the end of the world will he like, is in the form of a letter written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle some time before he died to Mr. S. Fowler Wright, the author of "Deluge," the much-discussed novel which gives an imaginary description of the end of the world.

Sir Arthur claims that it is based on spirit communications received by him, but, as he indicates, in the text, he did not wish it to be published in his lifetime.

The "Sunday Express" does not, of course, take these prophecies seriously, but publishes them merely because they deal with a subject that is of intense interest to a vast number of people.

These various forecasts of the immediate future of the world should be used with the utmost discretion. We have above all to avoid sensationalism and undignified newspaper stunts.

We have to remember that there have been alarms before which have come to nothing. Also that plans may always be modified either because there is some higher tribunal at the back which overrules, or because there is some change in the human situation.

Still, even if we make every possible allowance for these things, these warnings have come unsought and often unwelcome in many quarters, and are

Still, even if we make every possible allowance for these things, these warnings have come unsought and often unwelcome in many quarters, and are all roughly to the same effect. They have also been accompanied by a notable increase in the seismic activity of the world which shows itself in those very quarters with which the warnings deal. It is impossible, in my opinion, not to take them seriously, for they represent in themselves a psychic phenomenon for which I know no parallel.


Our circle seems to have been chosen as the clearing house for these messages, for though we would not venture to claim that all have reached us, still it is very remarkable how they have converged upon us from all quarters. Some have been oral, but taking the whole series it would not be an exaggeration to say that we have had one hundred messages all independent of each other.

But these must be taken as supplementary to our own direct information got during the last four or five years through my wife with the aid of my own control Pheneas. These cover in detail every phase of the predicted crisis.

As to time, we never have had anything really definite in our own circle, such terms as "soon" and "very soon" being always used. It is a belief that the control sees things in pictures and not in terms of worldly time.

My American co-operators working with a proved and excellent medium were told on January 8 that six months of preparation from that date could be relied on.

They did not say that that was an absolute minimum. We have ourselves always been given the autumn as the time of the year.

If we state the course of events as outlined in these various documents and check them with our own information the result is overwhelming. It would entail a period of terrific natural convulsions during which a large portion of the human race would perish. Earthquakes of great severity, enormous tidal waves would seem to be the agents. There is mention of war, but that would appear to be only in the early stages and to be in some way the signal for the crisis.

What makes the matter more difficult to understand is that we are always told that the deaths are not indiscriminate, but selective. One could only explain this by supposing that it is the gases released from the earth which are fatal, and that some are rendered immune. How to explain selection in the case of the tidal wave I cannot understand, save that a warning may come which some will take and others disregard.


The following general details may be gathered :—

That the crisis will come in an instant;

That the general destruction and utter dislocation of civilised life will be beyond belief;

That there will be a short period of utter chaos followed by some reconstruction ;

That the total period of the upheavals will be roughly three years;

That the chief centres of disturbance will be the Eastern Mediterranean basin, where not less than five countries will entirely disappear.

Also the Atlantic, where there will be a rise of land which will be a cause of those waves which will bring about great disasters upon the Americans, the Irish, and the Western European shore, involving all the low-lying British coasts. There are indicated further great upheavals in the Southern Pacific and in the Japanese region.


These are the main points indicated, some in one corroboration, some in another, and all in our messages. It is, however, continually rubbed in that the really important side is the psychic side and that all the physical is subservient to that.

During the whole course of events there is a psychic accompaniment with manifestations of spirit power which is to culminate in a complete rending of the veil so that spirit and matter will be face to face for a time.

When they separate again a great number of those who have worked in the cause will be privileged to pass over with their spirit friends and without death in the ordinary sense of the word. Others of the "Elect," if I may use the current word, are retained for a few years to establish the new order on a solid basis.

Thus the race may be divided into three sects — the hopeless material who are swept away, the i ourselves to meet what may be a “Elect” who change their sphere, and the central body who carry on under picked leadership.

The whole object of the spiritualist movement from the beginning has, I think, been to prepare a body of thought which will understand and be able to co-operate in such a crisis. In the course of these world-shaking events there will be on earth a single strong spiritual influence which, working either directly or through others, will control events.

At the supreme moment this high spirit will be visible to all and will command the reverence of all. This would seem to correspond with the idea of a Second Coming. Indeed, the whole course of events ending in a happier world will follow the general line of what was vaguely seen by the prophets of old.

When these things come it will be the duty of all who have any knowledge of spiritual facts, and the meaning of these events, to go forth and devote themselves entirely to the comfort and instruction of the terrified and bewildered human race.

Therefore we must cultivate knowledge and spiritual strength ourselves to meet what may be a very great strain, Spiritualism is the basis of the religion of the future.

I repeat that I have no certainty over these events. I can but pass on what has been passed to me, but I would not take the responsibility of doing that if I were not deeply impressed by the facts which have actually occurred. A huge conspiracy to deceive upon the other side would seem to be the only alternative, and that is hardly consistent with the lofty teaching which goes with the messages.

We want no hysterical developments, nor do we wish to commit correspond the spiritualistic movement to a prophecy which may not materialise.

At the same time, without publicly committing the movement in any way, I should wish to let individuals know what my own individual point of view is so that they may now watch the course of events for themselves and form their own conclusions and the line of action.

Let those hear who have an ear to hear, but let it not be broadcast.