Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on Divorce

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on Divorce is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in the Daily Mail on 23 january 1912.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on Divorce

Daily Mail (23 january 1912, p. 4)

To the Editor The Daily Mail.

Sir, — In answer to Mr. Easter's question in the Daily Mail, I did not advocate the compulsory divorce ofidiots, criminals, etc. The hardship is that they should not have a divorce if the sane or innocent partner desire it.

Of the hundred thousand of each sex who are now separated by law, and yet forbidden to marry anyone else, the causes of separation are many, but I should think that cruelty and habitual drunkenness predominate. My argument is that the existence of this great number of enforced celibates must have a subversive effect upon public morals, and incidentally a depressing influence upon that dwindling birth-rate which everyone deplores as a national disaster. After a fitting interval the separation should, as I hold, be changed into absolute divorce.

As to theology being the root of all the mischief, that was clearly borne out at the Commission, where the objections to reform were based largely upon theological considerations. We have had a striking object-lesson from India of late as to the folly of founding a practice upon texts. It is stated that a million widows have been consumed in the rite of suttee because the original direction in the sacred books were misread "fire," when it was actually "altar." It is a terrible and apposite example of the danger of allowing sayings uttered in a foreign tongue, under different conditions, in distant lands and far-off days, to hamper our common sense and to throw a blight upon living men and women.

Arthur Conan Doyle.
(Pres. Divorce Law Reform Union.)
Windlesham, Crowborough, Sussex.