Talk with the Dead

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Talk with the Dead is an article published in the Daily Mail on 25 march 1919, including a part of an interview with Arthur Conan Doyle.

Talk with the Dead

Daily Mail (25 march 1919, p. 5)



Sir Arthur Conan Doyle possesses papers which, he claims, "prove survival of and communion with the dead beyond the shadow of a doubt." A representative of The Daily Mail examined these papers, at Sir Arthur's home at Crowborough yesterday and found them to consist of letters from correspondents relating their experiences with a medium recommended to them by Sir Arthur.

All these correspondents, who live in different parts of the country, had lost a near relative or dear friend, and out of 26 rates, said Sir Arthur, there were only 2 failures, one of which was his own experience. He attended four sittings or seances, and three were completely successful. On each occasion the medium was the same — a woman known as Mrs. B. — and in the successful sittings she revealed trivial and private family reminiscences, on which Sir Oliver Lodge lays such stress.

Relatives' names, personal appearance, idiosyncrasies, and mannerisms were accurately reported; and in one case a question asked in Danish was correctly answered in English, the medium not understanding Danish; and therefore, said Sir Arthur, ruling out the theory of telepathy.


One woman writing from Tunbridge Wells said her husband, who died in Genoa, had not written to her for live months before his death. Through the medium, who gave his name and described his personal appearance, he said he was suffering torments of remorse over his neglect of her, and during the séance he continually requested other spirits not to "barge in."

"Why did you not write?" asked the wife. "I did write," he replied, "but that damned fool Ginger did not post the letter."

A South Croydon correspondent stated that her son, a soldier, died in France, and the family had heard that the fatal wound was self-inflicted. After much hesitation the medium related this fact, which was unknown to her, and added that "the boy looked somewhat defiant. He said he had been depressed, and was not in his right mind when he shot himself." He said the family were helping him with their prayers.

From Bournemouth came a statement wherein the medium described a young officer standing beside a broken aeroplane propeller. This officer was accidentally killed on Salisbury Plain, she said, by the propeller of his aeroplane, which started prematurely. Another woman said she was told by her dead son through the medium that she would see him in the garden, and she would first see his "pink aura."


In his own case, Sir Arthur said, most intimate family affairs were related by the medium, who could not possibly have any previous knowledge of the things she told. His son, who died on service, bad been a sceptic on spiritualism and had declared that his father was being bamboozled. "It was the only difference between us," said Sir Arthur. "But, communicating from the other ride, my boy expressed his regret at not having trusted his father's judgment. In speaking he used endearing terms and favourite slang expressions known only to the family circle."

Both Sir Arthur and Lady Doyle were completely convinced that they had actually communicated with the dead boy.

Relating the ease of his brother-in-law a doctor who was killed at Mons, Sir Arthur said that not only did the medium give his name and accurate personal description, but also she said he could be identified by a gold coin. "This gold coin," said Sir Arthur, "was a Spade guinea I gave him to him for a joke after a medical consultation, and nobody but myself knew of the incident."