Famous Novelist Dead
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
Famous Novelist Dead is an article published in the Evening Herald (Dublin) on 7 july 1930.
Obituary of Arthur Conan Doyle.
Famous Novelist Dead
Passing of Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes
SIR A. CONAN DOYLE
Illness Follows Lectures on Spiritualism
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died at Crowborough this morning. Lady Conan Doyle, two sons, and one daughter were at the bedside.
He had been ill since November last, and his illness is attributed to his work in Scandinavia in October, when he gave a series of lectures on spiritualism.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would wish his fame to rest upon his beliefs in communication between the living and the dead. It is more likely, however, that "Sherlock Holmes" will be the medium of is immortality.
First Book Written at Age of Six.
Sir Arthur was born in Edinburgh on May 22, 1859. He wrote his first book of adventure
AT THE AGE OF SIX
and illustrated it himself, but his literary career dated more correctly from 19 years of age, when his first short story was published in "Chambers' Journal."
After Stonyhurst Doyle studied medicine at Edinburgh University, and it was the inductive methods of his professor, Dr. Bell, that led to the creation later on of the most famous detective in fiction.
He was an enthusiastic and useful cricketer in his younger days, and once took the wicket of the great "W.G." He wascaught behind the stumps, and Sir Arthur well remembered that he got some runs 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, stuck in my mind, and Holmes also may owe its origin to cricket."
In later years his hobbies were golf, motoring and billiards. After taking his degree as M.D., at Edinburgh Doyle was in medical practice for eight years at Southsea, and later was senior physician of the Langman Field Hospital, South Africa.
CAUSE OF OSCAR SLATER.
Sir Arthur vigorously espoused the cause of Oscar Stater, who was sentenced to imprisonment for life for the alleged murder of Marion Gilchrist. Believing that here bad 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?"
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.
"I pledge my honour that spiritualism is true," said Sir Arthur a few months ago, "and I know that spiritualism is infinitely more important than literature, art, or politics, or, in fact, anything in the world."
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 are shown many photographs and records of the phenomena in which he was so deeply interested.
In 1900 Sir Arthur contested Central Edinburgh as a Liberal Unionist, and Hawick Burghs as a Tariff Reformer in 1906. But he probably exerted greater political influence when he called upon all Spiritualists to oppose the Tory Government in the General Election of 1929.
He led a bitter tirade against organised Christianity, the principal attack being levelled against the ritual of church services. In one of his books, he asked: "Has any heathen tribe anything more fantastic than this in its ritual, and can we ever expect the affairs of this world to be normal while we profess to hold views in religion which no sane man could justify?
"If such things have come from the priesthood, then it is time that all priesthood should be swept away, and that the community should take their religious affairs into their own hands."
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, paid one of the most remarkable tributes to his father ever made by a son, in an interview to-day with a P.A. reporter.
"He was a great man and splendid father," he said, and was loved and was happy because he knew it, by all of us. 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 40 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. She nursed right through his illness to the end just as she, like all of us, had been about the world with him.
- "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.'
"He was in too much pain to say a lot. His breathing was very bad, and what he said was during brief flashes of consciousness. Never have I seen anyone take anything more gamely in all my life. 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."
It was in May last, on his 71st birthday, that Sir Arthur, in an interview with a Press Association reporter, said that he was tired of "Sherlock Holmes," that he feared another European war in 26 or 30 years, and that he thought modern youth marvellous.
"To tell you the truth," he said, "I am rather tired of hearing myself described the author of Sherlock Holmes.
Lady Doyle interposed that the only time Sir Arthur was gloomy was when he visualised the world in 25 or 30 years.
"I foresee another European war as a certainty unless the Treaty of Versailles is modified," Sir Arthur replied.
- "All this twaddle about youth being decadent was talked before the war.
Never was there a better generation of young men and women than that of to-day. They are freer in thought and speech, but that is to the good. Really they are marvellous."
Sir Arthur's interest in Spiritualism was also well-known. He told a meeting of the International Spiritualists' Congress, held in London in September, 1928, that he had every sign of being evidential and trustful. It was a message that would only appeal to his relatives. I sent it to them."
At this same meeting Sir Arthur showed what he claimed to be a unique collection of psychic pictures. Eight years have passed, he said, since the public were first shown fairy photographs, and nothing has occurred since to shake the evidence.
Proceeding to show some delightful pictures of fairies and gnomes — some of them taken, he pointed out, by girls in their teens — Sir Arthur explained the method of investigating the authenticity of them.
In March this year something of a sensation was caused by the announcement that Sir Arthur had resigned from the Society for Psychical Research, of which he had been a member for 36 years.
In a lengthy letter to the Chairman of the Council, Sir Lawrence Jones, intimating his resignation,
- Sir Arthur described the influence of the society "as entirely for evil,"
and stated that for a generation it had done no constructive work of any importance.
Sir Arthur, in January, 1928, had something to say in the nature of a speed record warning. Lecturing at the Kensington Town Hall, he declared that major Segrave's life was saved and his world's speed record assured by spiritualistic intervention.