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22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, KStJ, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

Famous Author's Passing. The Late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Creating Famous Author's Passing. The Late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is an article published in the Kent & Sussex Courier on 11 july 1930.

The article is an obituary of Arthur Conan Doyle with links between the late author and Crowborough.

The Late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Kent & Sussex Courier (11 july 1930, p. 11)


The Late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.


Universal expressions of regret have followed news of the death, which occurred on Monday at his residence "Windlesham," Crowborough, of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the famous novelist. Taken seriously ill in November last, Sir Arthur was stated, a short time ago, to be well on the road to recovery. A sudden relapse during the week-end, however, proved too much for the weakened condition of his heart, and his passing took place soon after nine o'clock on Monday morning in the presence of Lady Conan Doyle, a daughter and two sons. Hard work in connection with a lecture tour on spiritualism last year is stated to have been the cause of Sir Arthur's illness.

Famous alike for his stories especially the popular "Sherlock Holmes" series, and his efforts on behalf of spiritualism, of which he was acclaimed the national leader, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had a vogue which defied casual description. The great variety of his activities is reflected in the fact that, apart from literature and science, he was in the front rank of philosophy, medicine, politics, etc., and had successively been seaman, doctor, amateur actor and boxer, rifle shot, cricketer, recruiter and soldier. Among his more recent recreations were golf, billiards and walking, and he was a member of the Athenaeum, Royal Automobile and the Author's Clubs and of the M.C.C. His strenuous advocacy of Oscar later's innocency will also be remembered.

Varied career.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born on May 22nd, 1859. He therefore celebrated his' 71st birthday only short time ago. He was a native of Edinburgh, where he remained with his parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. Charles Doyle, until he was nine years of age. He then went to Stoneyhurst in Lancashire, where he received his early education, subsequently travelling in Germany. At seventeen he entered Edinburgh University and for four years was medical student. His first real attempt at story-writing appeared when he was nineteen. remained a student until he was twenty-one, and then, the opportunity opening to him, he voyaged the Arctic Seas in a whaler. On his return he again took up medical studies at Edinburgh and obtained his M.D.

It was in 1882 that Dr. Doyle, as he then was, started a practice in Southsea, where he continued for eight years. Several of his best known works, including "Micah Clarke" and "A Study in Scarlet," the first of the Sherlock Holmes stories, were already on the market. About this time, too, he was taking practical interest in politics, contesting Central Edinburgh Liberal Unionist in 1900. He afterwards fought as Tariff Reformer. Abandoning his Southsea practice, he then started in London as eye specialist — a branch of the profession of which he was particularly fond. He studied at Pans and Vienna, but, when he returned to London, he forsook medicine altogether, and launched upon the literary career which was to make him famous.

Sir Arthur received his knighthood in 1902. He was LL.D. of Edinburgh University, and also held an unique distinction as a Knight of St. John of Jerusalem. During the Boer War he was Senior Physician of the Langham Field Hospital, South Africa. The Late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

At Crowborough.

For 22 years a resident of Crowborough, Sir Arthur took keen interest in the activities and welfare of the parish, where, up till two years ago, he was frequently in the public eye. In 1924 he laid the foundation stone of the new billiard room at the Crowborough ex-Service Men's Club, of which he was President for many years, and two years later he presided bazaar, opened by Sir Ernest Wild, the Recorder of London, and held for the benefit of the local Cottage Hospital. Of this institution he was always most generous supporter.

The Crowborough Volunteers, during the War, owed their inception to him. devised, in the summer of 1925, an unique idea which indicated a deep interest in the Boy Scout Movement, particularly the local troop. Placing a trap of stuffed snakes on the Crowborough Golf Course, on the fringe of which his residence was situated, he offered a considerable reward to the Scout or Scouts who could find the hidden objects. He issued a description of the snakes and subsequently advertised the "loss" and also the "loss" of ancient armour, and again offering a reward for its recovery. It will be observed from both these instances that Sir Arthur was possessed of a keen sense of humour; whilst encouraging, in his own peculiar way, the qualities of observation and perseverance which, to his mind, every Scout should possess.

The last appearance in public at Crowborough of Sir Arthur was to lecture on spiritualism entirely for the benefit of local inhabitants. The function, which took place in the now demolished Waterloo Hut, was well attended, and at the close of the address many questions were put to the speaker. These Sir Arthur answered with a frankness which pleased everyone.

A Generous Donor.

He showed his interest in the locality in many other ways, becoming for several seasons, President of the Crowborough and District Billiards League, Vice-President of the local Rifle Club, Vice-President of the Horticultural Society, Vice-President the District Cricket League, and an active member of the Beacon Golf Club. He was a generous donor of cups and prizes several local organisations and his own billiards cup for the Crowborough championship was won by himself on more than one occasion, showing that he was himself no mean player. At one time he frequently invited working men enthusiasts to his beautifully equipped billiard room at "Windlesham" for local competitions. He had a warm regard for the De La Warr Artizan Golf Club, for the benefit of which he offered trophies, and he was also supporter of the Jarvis Brook Cricket and Football Clubs.

Of special interest to Crowborough residents will be the fact that he was in favour of urban powers for the parish. Speaking to Courier representative some time ago. he said: "Certainly I am in favour of urban powers. Crowborough is a larger place than Uckfield, so why should it be governed by Uckfield? The tail does not wag the dog."

Sir Arthur's beautiful Crowborough home, surrounded by shady lawns and almost hidden tall firs, is delightfully situated, and it one of the largest residences on the Ashdown Forest. Here the popular writer of stories had miniature menagerie and a fine collection of old armour and other antiques whilst it was here, too, that many of his books were written, especially the later ones dealing with spiritualist subjects.

A Genial Disposition.

A man of almost giant stature, over 6 ft. and with the broad and brawny physique of boxer — in his younger days he was heavyweight. He had a figure never to be mistaken whenever he took one of his frequent strolls in the neighbourhood of his home. By disposition he was far from being obtrusive or austere. He had most kindly features, with silver grey hair that gave his an almost benevolent appearance, and his soft blue eyes betokened generous, as well as a genial nature. His sympathies were widely known and no good cause ever appealed to him in vain.

For spiritualism it is not too much to say that he made many sacrifices, some of them quite unknown to the public. His public efforts on behalf of Oscar Slater also show that he was possessed of a powerful sense of justice and fair play.

Passionately devoted as husband and father, it is typical of him that his last tribute, just before he died, should be paid to his wife: "You are wonderful," he is stated to have exclaimed, and then lapsed into unconsciousness.

In view of what he subsequently became it is interesting to recall that several of his forbears were artists, his grandfather, John Doyle, who died in 1868, inaugurating the style of political caricature which attains to-day. An uncle, the late Mr. Richard Doyle, drew for "Punch," the cover of which he designed; while Sir Arthur's father also appears to have had artistic tendencies. younger brother of Sir Arthur, Col. J. F. H. Doyle, D.S.O., who has served in various parts of the Empire, has been four times mentioned in despatches.

Twice Married.

Sir Arthur was twice married. In 1885 he was married to Louise, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. J. Hawkins, of Minsterworth. There was one son and one daughter of this marriage. His second wife, whom he married in 1907, was Jean, daughter of Mr. James Blyth Leckie, formerly of Glebe House, Blackheath, and later of Crowborough. By this wife Sir Arthur had two sons and one daughter.

His eldest son, Captain K. Conan Doyle, was killed in the war, and a memorial to him can be seen at the Crowborough Beacon Golf House. His name also appears on the Crowborough War Memorial. Permission has been given by the Home Secretary for the internment of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to take place in the grounds of his residence, "Windlesham," Crowborough this (Friday) afternoon at 2.30.

A site has been chosen a few yards from the outdoor study, one of his favourite work places. The grounds will opened to the public to attend the ceremony.