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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

Patriotism of Modern Writers. Sir A. Conan Doyle's Criticism

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Patriotism of Modern Writers. Sir A. Conan Doyle's Criticism is an article published in The Yorkshire Post, 10 january 1922.

Patriotism of Modern Writers

The Yorkshire Post (10 january 1922)


Outspoken criticism on the lack of patriotism of certain modern writers was uttered by Sir Ailhur Conan Doyle, who presided at the dinner at the Authors' Club last night in honour of Mr. Henry Arthur Jones.

Proposing the health Mr. Henry Arthur Jones, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said it was seven years since Mr. Jones produced a play in London. ("Shame.") There was something amiss in that, because he had actually during that time produced them elsewhere. He hoped we were not going to have another tragedy like that of Mr. Thomas Hardy. Mr. Jones, he was sure, was too much of a fighting man and "fiery particle" ever to be snuffed out by anybody's article. (Laughter.)

Alluding the robust patriotism of Mr. Jones, Sir Arthur said that in the matter of patriotism we were rather unfortunate in some of our writers. "Mr. Shaw is a personal friend of mine," said Sir Arthur. "but he has used his great powers, unfortunately, too often not in the useful criticism which braces the nation in its strength, but the destructive criticism which in other lands gives entirely false impression of the situation here. We have been unfortunate in another friend of mine, Mr. Wells, though not perhaps to the same degree as Mr. Shaw. I can remember that outburst of patriotism which Mr. Wells expressed on the outbreak of war when for a time he would not even admit that quarter should be given to the enemy should they land in this country. The only trouble in Mr. Britling, was that he did not see it through. (Laughter.) Zangwill is a man I consider should play a better part in representing this country abroad. I can remember going to see his play, "The Melting Pot," of which the thesis was what a splendid time the Jew would have if he only reached America. There were only two lines referring to Great Britain, and they were sneer. As I watched the play, I saw sitting in a box the Lord Chief Justice of England - a Jew. When have one Jew ---ing India and another carrying out that rule a little recognition on the part of a prominent writer would be in good taste." (Hear, hear.) With Mr. Jones it was different, and anyone who had read "My Dear Wells" would know how effective he had been.

Responding, Mr. Jones said he would give Mr. Wells a close time. He owed Mr. Wells a great debt of gratitude. After many years of hard work he thought it was time to enjoy himself, so he examined Mr. Wells' philosophy. (Laughter.) Alluding to his absence from the theatre, Mr. Jones said he had not been to an English theatre six times since the Armistice, and except from casual gossip did not know what or who was being played at the present moment, but did know that Shakespeare was not being played. If he were, he would be emptying the theatre and ruining his manager. Mr. Jones added that only a few weeks ago leading West End theatre was offered to him. But the public taste was so uncertain, and the expense so enormous, that he had to decline a very tempting offer. When conditions changed, when was free from his present obligations, when he could find a manager and actor like Charles Wyndham, he would be delighted to appeal once more to English playgoers.