Notecard about James Payn

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

This notecard was written by Arthur Conan Doyle on 12 november [1926] from Bignell Wood, Minstead, Lyndhurst, Hants, to an unknown recipient.

James Payn was his friend and editor of Chambers's Journal and The Cornhill Magazine. In the letter, Conan Doyle is referring to the final six Sherlock Holmes stories he would write, published in The Strand Magazine from october 1926 and april 1927, concluding with The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place.


I remember old James Payn when I was his pupil giving me the standing rule "Never argue with a critic". I have kept it fairly well (save in psychic matters) and I do not feel galled by criticism for I always feel that if one does the very best one can Time will sort it out and what is worthy will remain & what dies should die. Therefore I hardly know why I wrote to you save that it is an interesting point to argue how far a falling off is real or apparent & how far the fresh mind reacts as it used to do. I was conscious at one time that Holmes was strained & for some years I only wrote one story a year. I can truly say I have never written to order or allowed the money side of it to influence me at all. But I have not felt him strained in this last series of six. Five of these are done, and I will not do the sixth if I have any reason to think there is a real declension. I have my ear on the ground. In any case thank you for your frank criticism & courteous letter. I should be a fool indeed if I resented what is honestly said. By all means make any reference you like.

Yours sincerely
A. Conan Doyle

Nov 12 [1926]