The Story of a Bengal Tiger

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
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Fragment of the story (around 1865)

This story was written by the 4 or 6-year old Arthur Conan Doyle. He told his souvenir of it in Juvenilia :

« I was six at the time, and have a very distinct recollection of the achievement. It was written, I remember, upon foolscap paper, in what might be called a fine bold hand-four words to the line, and was illustrated by marginal pen-and-ink sketches by the author. There was a man in it, and there was a tiger. I forget which was the hero, but it didn't matter much, for they became blended into one about the time when the tiger met the man. I was a realist in the age of the Romanticists I described at some length, both verbally and pictorially the untimely end of that wayfarer. But when the tiger had absorbed him, I found myself slightly embarrassed as to how my story was to go on. 'It is very easy to get people into scrapes, and very hard to get them out again,' I remarked, and I have often had cause to repeat the precocious aphorism of my childhood. On this occasion the situation was beyond me, and my book, like my man, was engulfed in my tiger. There is an old family bureau with secret drawers, in which lie little locks of hair tied up in circles, and black silhouettes and dim daguerreotypes, and letters which seem to have been written in the lightest of straw coloured inks. Somewhere there lies my primitive manuscript, where my tiger, like a many-hooped barrel with a tail to it, still envelops the hapless stranger whom he has taken in. »

In a letter to Mary Doyle (Arthur's mother) on 11 april 1864, Michael Conan mentioned "Master Arthur, whose sympathy for the carnivorous tiger is so ultra comical". So the story of the Bengal Tiger would have been written when Arthur was 4 (almost 5).

All is left of this story is a 30 words fragment (see image).


... but each man carring a knife gun pistle we ran on till we came to a cave on the side of the rock we rushed in the first thing we saw was a fine Bengal...