Sir A. Conan Doyle (The Scotsman)
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
Sir A. Conan Doyle is an article published in The Scotsman on 8 july 1930.
Obituary of Arthur Conan Doyle.
Sir A. Conan Doyle
An Engaging Personality.
To those who had the privilege of his acquaintance, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (an Edinburgh correspondent writes) was a most likeable personality. Ono was struck chiefly by his simplicity and sincerity, his freedom from self-consciousness, and his ready sympathy and understanding. He was one of the most approachable of men, and seemed to find a special pleasure in serving others. Tears seemed to make little impression on his tall, stalwart figure. I can recall him at Boulogne, when I was returning from a visit to the Australian front, in September 1918. Conan Doyle had just reached Boulogne for the same purpose, and the two parties joined up at dinner. He was then giving the close and painstaking attention to the facts of the war which he brought to bear on all his literary work. He always gave the impression of being a man of infinite leisure. For a considerable part of that evening he listened with not the slightest sign of impatience to the exposition, by an absolute amateur in campaigning, on some point of the Australian advance.
METHOD OF COMPOSITION.
Some years later he came to lecture in Edinburgh. He was visiting the city after a considerable absence, and he evinced strong interest in the scenes of his boyhood. I was interested during this visit to watch his method of writing. He had to make a communication to The Scotsman, and he proceeded to write it in my presence. He wrote, one would have said, slowly but steadily, and without pause or interruption, with the result that the communication was completed in a surprisingly short period. This capacity for careful composition, requiring practically no revision, is part of the secret of his enormous output. Letters I from time to time received from him were all written in the same careful style with his own hand — he hardly ever used a typewriter or the services of an amanuensis. The large mail with which he daily had to cope made a heavy demand on his time. I have also in manuscript the introduction to a book which he was good enough to write, showing the same deliberate but sure method of composition, the argument being evolved step by step, and only one or two words out of the whole being altered on revision.
In his holiday tours in Scotland Conan Doyle never left out Edinburgh. Before the hearing of the Slater appeal I was invited to meet him at dinner, with two others. His attitude in the Slater case was one of disinterested chivalry. He was convinced, through the evidence at the trial and from the investigations of one of those present at this little dinner party of four, that an injustice had been done to one who had apparently no friends.
INTEREST IN PSYCHIC SCIENCE.
The study of psychic science not only employed the greater part of his energies in recent years, on the platform and in personal investigation, but also was the subject on which he mainly employed his literary abilities. His "History of Spiritualism," in two volumes, is a standard work, marked by his remarkable power of assimilating facts and expressing them with lucidity. Last month there was published the last of his volumes, "On the Edge of the Unknown," which comprises a series of monographs on various psychic subjects, and which includes a number of personal experiences. One of the last enterprises he undertook was to set on foot a scheme for continuing the Psychic Bookshop, opposite Westminster Abbey, one of his personal efforts in the cause of disseminating a knowledge of psychic science, which he had carried on for five years. This was a personal effort in every sense. One might walk into tho bookshop and be served by the famous novelist in person, or conducted by him around the psychic museum, which was an annex of the shop. He was anxious to make arrangements for carrying on this centre, the placing of which on a proper basis had cost him something like £5000 in the last five years.
One of the episodes which excited his interest in Scotland was the loss of a climber on Ben Achallader, and the receipt of a mysterious series of letters got through automatic writing during the search — a summary of which appeared in The Scotsman at the time, and which were afterwards published. This series of letters, he informed me, had specially interested another famous writer, who was an accomplished Greek scholar, and who was able to trace a peculiar term used in the letters to an old Greek root. His last public appearance in Edinburgh was when, during the Slater case hearing, he opened the premises of the Scottish Psychical Society, delivering a speech the good sense and practicalness of which greatly impressed all who were invited to hear him on that occasion.
REGRET IN AMERICA.
New York, July 7. — Thousands of persons in this country read with deepest regret to-day the news of the death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose immortal stories of Sherlock Holmes and wide activities in the field of spiritualism endeared him to countless Americans.
Mr William Gilette, of Deep River, Connecticut, who created the stage role of Sherlock Holmes and played it intermittently for many years, said he could speak of the famous writer only in the highest terms, and that his long years of friendship with him had been most pleasant ones.
The New York Sun says:— "No writer of his generation, with the possible exception of Kipling, gave such general delight as Conan Doyle. Next to 'Don Quixote' and 'Robinson Crusoe,' 'Sherlock Holmes' is the most popular fiction hero for ages." — Reuter.
Paris, July 7. — The Journal publishes a long biographical notice of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. "He was," says the paper, "the creator of a type, a great traveller, and one who never let enthusiastic action lag behind his idea. A man generally venerated, he did not hesitate to make himself the champion of a just cause."
The Matin also regrets the death of the creator of Sherlock Holmes, pointing out the deceased's visits to the inter-Allied front during the war, and the interest he took in the French troops. — Reuter.
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