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

Death of Sir A. Conan Doyle

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Death of Sir A. Conan Doyle is an article published in the Liverpool Echo on 7 july 1930.

Obituary of Arthur Conan Doyle.

Death of Sir A. Conan Doyle

Liverpool Echo (7 july 1930, p. 12)


Long Illness After A Tour.


Creator Of "Sherlock Holmes."


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the famous novelist and creator of "Sherlock Holmes" died at his Crowborough home this morning.

He had been ill since last November, and his illness is attributed to his work in Scandinavia in October, when he gave a series of lectures on spiritualism, the subject which absorbed him during his last years.

At his bedside were Lady Conan Doyle, two sons, and one daughter.


Arthur Conan Doyle was born at Edinburgh in May, 1859, and educated at Stonyhurst College. After studying at Edinburgh he practised as a doctor at Southsea from 1882 to 1890.

He then went to the Arctic in a whaler as ship's doctor, and visited the West Coast of Africa. During the South African war he was a physician of a field hospital. He stood twice for Parliament as a Unionist an a Tariff Reformer.

He began to write in the '80's, some of his work appearing in the "Boy's Own Paper." The first of his Sherlock Holmes detective stories came out in 1887.

The remarkable deductions of the crime investigator were based on those of the Edinburgh doctor James Bell, [1] whose clinics Doyle attended, and who, by observation of what seemed to be trifles, arrived at accurate conclusions about the out-patients on whom he lectured.


The public could not have enough of Holmes and even after the author had, as he thought, ended the series by killing his hero, he was induced to resurrect him.

Conan Doyle also wrote some historical novels: "The White Company," dealing with the English archers in France at the time of the Black Prince, "Micah Clarke," "The Refugees," "The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard," stories of the Napoleonic wars, "Rodney Stone," a sketch of the days of the Prince Regent, and "The Great Shadow"; some modern stories such as "A Duet with an Occasional Chorus," and several plays, including "The Story of Waterloo," in which Irving appeared, "The House of Temperley," "The Fires of Fate," and "Halves."

He also compiled two books in defence of the South African War, which were translated into twelve languages, 100,000 copies being given away. He was knighted in 1902.


Doyle was one of the originators of the Volunteer Corps during the World War, the first unit — in which he served for four years — being formed at Crowborough in August, 1914. He did much propaganda work, issuing pamphlets on war topics and a six-volume history of the war which was much read in America. He visited the war zones and wrote on his experiences there.

After losing his son in the war he became an ardent spiritualist, and since 1918 he devoted his life to writing and lecturing on behalf of his new faith, his books including "A New Revelation," "The Vital Message," "The Wanderings of a Spiritualist," a novel, "The Land of Mist," and a "History of Spiritualism."

His view was that "Everything that has life is duplicated on the other side. We shall find all our favourite pets there." In 1925 he established a "Psychic Museum," containing spirits photographs and other "evidence" on behalf of spiritualism.


Sir Arthur was an enthusiastic and useful cricketer in his younger days and once took the wicket of the great "W. G." He was caught behind the stumps, and Sir Arthur well remembered that he got some himself in that match.

In those days there was a famous bowler named "Sherlock." I cannot really be certain, he said, a little while ago, but it is possible that the name of the bowler Sherlock stack in my mind, and Holmes also may owe its origin to cricket.

In later years his hobbies were golf, motoring and billiards.


Sir Arthur vigorously espoused the cause of Oscar Slater, who was sentenced to imprisonment for life for the alleged murder of Marion Gilchrist. Believing that there had been a grave miscarriage of justice, he conducted a strenuous campaign for the re-opening of the case. In this he was ultimately successful, and Slater was acquitted.

A little later, however, Sir Arthur sued Slater for part of the costs of his defence, but the matter was eventually settled amicably.

In a remarkable open letter written in June last year, 1929, Sir Arthur said:—

"We are about to die, you and I. My age is just seventy and I suppose an actuary would give me five more years. It may be ten, or it may be only one. Who can tell?

Perhaps this may have been prevision by one who was a firm believer in Spiritualism and the power of conversing with the dead.

He claimed to have had conversations with the spirits of Cecil Rhodes at his grave in the Matoppo Hills, and also with Lord Haig and Joseph Conrad.

In the cause of Spiritualism he travelled extensively and lectured in all parts of the world. In the Psychic Museum which he established in Victoria-street, London, are shown many photographs and records of the phenomena in which he was so deeply interested.

He led a bitter tirade against organised Christianity, the principal attack being levelled against the sacraments and the ritual of church services.

Sir Arthur was twice married and his first wife died in 1906. He leaves a widow, two daughters and two sons.


Mr. Adrian Conan Doyle, one of Sir Arthur's sons, said to an "Echo" reporter:—

"He was a great man and a splendid father. He had had heart trouble for six or eight months, but recently it had been easier and he had suffered less pain.

"Then two days ago came a sudden turn for the worse, and he died peacefully at 9.30 to-day. My mother and father were lovers after thirty years as they were on the day they were married. Their devotion to each other at all times was one of the most wonderful things I have ever known.

"His last words were to her and they show just how much he thought of her, he simply smiled up at her and said: 'You are wonderful.'

"Even when we all knew he was suffering great pain he always managed during the time he was conscious to keep a smile on his face for us."


Questioned as to whether Sir Arthur had spoken before his death of communicating with his family after his death, Mr. Adrian Conan Doyle said:—

"Why, of course. My father fully believed that when he passed over he would continue to keep in touch with us.

"All his family believe so too. There is no question that my father will often speak to us just as he did before he passed over.

"His death is a great loss, but only in a physical sense. I know perfectly well that I am going to have conversations with him.

"We shall miss his footsteps and his physical presence, but that is all. Otherwise he might only have gone to Australia.

"We will always know when he is speaking, but one has to he careful, because there are practical jokers on the other side as there are here. It is quite possible that they may attempt to impersonate him.

  1. His real name was Joseph Bell.