The Arthur Conan Doyle EncyclopediaThe Arthur Conan Doyle EncyclopediaThe Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, KStJ, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

Conan Doyle's Daughter Pays Tribute to Him

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Conan Doyle's Daughter Pays Tribute to Him is an article written by Mary Conan Doyle, the first daughter of Arthur Conan Doyle, published in the Chattanooga Daily Times on 7 april 1929.

Conan Doyle's Daughter Pays Tribute to Him

Chattanooga Daily Times
(7 april 1929, section 4, p. 1)

Has Been Principal Force in Her Life, She Says.


Declares Her Father Is Fighting Big Battle for Spiritualism, Though Many Persons Disagree With Him.


My father has been the principal force in my life, for he has robbed me of the fear of death, the dread of separation, and religious doubt.

I don't believe that any girl could soy more of her father than that. I could speak endlessly about what I think of him, but at the same time I don't think I could do anything more positive to show what a father's influence can be than to mention those three vital things.

My early memories of my father are rather hazy. I had to stay at home in the country with my mother, who was an invalid. My father could not remain there, so that it became a rare occasion, although a great joy, when he had a little time for me.

He had a wonderful way of telling enthralling stories — those must have been the days in which he was still writing "Sherlock Holmes." I tried very hard, as a little girl, to live up to his ideals, because I could not bear the thought of so magical a being as my father appeared feeling disappointed in me. That is how he has always accomplished everything — just through the love he could arouse.

He thought that to be kind was much more important than to be what the governesses call "a good little girl." He was not so interested in my being quick and neat at my lessons as in making me human; giving me an understanding of people and their troubles and indicating to me that sympathy was more virtuous than — how shall I put it? — shall I say virtue?

Kindness of Heart Impressed Daughter.

My father's warmth of heart was one of the qualities that impressed itself on me, even before I could have known the words by which to describe it. He was one of those rare people to whom folks talked freely. I don't know that father was conscious of possessing this quality himself, but I do remember that he was most anxious that I should be able to enter into people's lives and share with them their pleasures and troubles alike.

But that was the extent of my father's influence in my childhood.

When my mother died, and later, my father married again, I became slightly interested in spiritualism, a subject first brought home to me by the remarkable mediumistic powers of my stepmother.

But, even then, although my father's interest was being absorbed in this subject, it was remote from me. Strangely enough, it was not until I was far away that my father began to grow into the most vital influence I had known.

I adored music and had persuaded my father to let me study first in London and then in Dresden. Meanwhile, although he was going more and more deeply into spiritualism and traveling to all points of the world to discover what he could, I seemed to be getting farther away from it. I say "seemed" because I realize now that actually the thought of it must have been part of the background of my life.

As time went on I was allowed to pay a visit to America, a land of dreams and hopes that I had always longed to see. It was arranged that I should go to Los Angeles and stay with some people to whom, however, I was practically a stranger.

It must be remembered that up till that time I had had no personal experience of anything psychic. I was interested in it only as it affected my father.

My American hosts persuaded me to join a circle. And in a most miraculous fashion I was suddenly enlightened as to the great truth of spiritualism.

That seance was perhaps the most extraordinary experience of my life. The medium told me certain things about my family in England, and I felt as though it were my own father who was trying, psychically, to make me understand.

It was such a galvanizing experience that I communicated at once with my father, who was lecturing in Australia at the time, and I left the United States as soon as possible to return to England.

He had always refused, gently but firmly, to influence my beliefs. He used to say: "Mary, you cannot force an attitude of mind." Nor did he object to my prejudice. He thought it was nature's safeguard against accepting things before the mind, or possibly the soul, was ready for them. That is the reason that no amount of opposition makes him bitter.

Spiritualism has become the dominant influence in my life.

Under any father's guidance, I saw that the world could be made much happier if one could realize always that death means no permanent parting and that spiritualism is true and worth while only when it is linked with religion — that the two, indeed, cannot be divided.

Countless People Disagree With Him.

My father is fighting bravely a big battle on the point, for there are countless people who disagree with him.

One remarkable lesson that my father, not by words, but by his daily example, has taught me is that the individual is never so important as the idea.

My chief aim at present is to free My father so that his great big mind may assist others. I am active in spiritualism, of course and I am deeply interested in my father's guide in the spirit world. This guide, or perhaps guardian would be a better word, is named Pheneas, and is a Chaldean of extreme antiquity. The wisdom of the ancients seems to be, through him, at my father's disposal. He has told him that he is chosen now and has been specially prepared to give his life in making spiritualism universally understood and accepted.

My father believes that, and so do I. By telling of my father's spiritualistic work, I have been trying to show the tremendous effect he has had upon me. At times, I confess, his mental activity is so overstimulating that I react against it and seek refuge in music, I have not been granted quite the degree of vitality that is so marked a trait of my father. This confirms the statement of Pheneas, the Chaldean, to the effect that he has been specially singled out for his mission.

But there are, of course, other aspects of my father's character. It is true that I lose sight of these at times, because I am so absorbed in his earnestness. I try to give out to him whatever I have in the way of personal energy, but some of the best times that I have had with him have been when we have gone in for some sport together.

He is a good golfer, a fine swimmer, an all-around sportsman.

From him I have learned that, although life in this world is only a phase of a soul's existence, it is almost immoral to neglect the body which houses the spirit until it is ready to go.

He has very little patience with spiritualists whose work and investigations make them morbid. He claims, and I believe through the evidence he has shown me and which has influenced me enormously, that spiritualism is intended to bring happiness. People's belief in it won't alter it as a fact. But, as my father has shown me, it is worth while devoting one's whole existence to showing that there is fresh hope and another world, a world with which we can communicate and which may put certain doubts and anxieties at rest.

I think that, through my father's influence, I have at least a little of his zealous spirit — and that I owe entirely to him.