Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters

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9780007247592: Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters

These remarkably candid and previously unpublished letters between Arthur Conan Doyle and his mother, dating from 1867 until her death in 1921, paint a fascinating portrait of one of Britain’s most beloved authors and a complex man who both embodied and defied the conventions of his time.

More than seventy-five-years after his death, Arthur Conan Doyle remains one of Britain’s best-loved authors. Famed as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle was a fascinating man in his own right – physician, sportsman, crusader for social justice, war correspondent and military historian. From his early whale-hunting days to his later celebrity, Conan Doyle’s life was as gripping as any of his own adventure tales.

Throughout, his mother Mary Foley was Conan Doyle’s principal confidante, the recipient of a stream of startlingly frank letters from her devoted son. Over a thousand letters between them survive from the time Arthur was sent away to boarding school in 1867, aged eight, until her death in 1920. They reveal a man whose early career was marked by a distinct lack of success as Conan Doyle struggled to establish a medical practice of his own, filling long, patient-less days by scribbling short stories that would result in the creation of Holmes. To Conan Doyle’s chagrin, the detective would remain his most famous creation, vastly overshadowing the historical novels, plays and other writings on which he pinned his literary aspirations.

In later years, Conan Doyle evolved into an impassioned public figure and highly opinionated commentator on the important issues of the day. A deeply moral man of uncompromising political convictions, he nevertheless spent much of his married life passionately in love with another woman. His Catholic mother, with whom he discussed the affair, approved and encouraged the relationship. And yet despite their close bond neither she nor public ridicule could convince him to abandon the eccentric spiritualist beliefs he embraced in later life.

This stunningly candid volume of never-before-published letters sheds fascinating light on a man who has remained largely hidden behind his most famous character. Gracefully written and consistently revealing, these letters illuminate his life, character and career as never before.

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Review:

‘Fairly hums with Conan Doyle’s trademark enthusiasm.’ Independent on Sunday

‘Superbly edited by three Conan Doyle scholars, (it) sheds new light on the writer's work and inner life, as well as his various love affairs and spiritualist crises…“A Life in Letters” is a monument to the enduring popularity of the occupant of 221b Baker Street and greatest investigator of all…This plum pudding of a book is essential reading to fans of Conan Doyle.’ Financial Times

‘The letters add up to a self–portrait of a clean, decent, outdoor sportsman of prodigious energy and boyish optimism…who always loved mother best.’ Daily Mail ‘Books of the Year’

‘The selected letters…convey an almost physical presence of the author, with his strange mixture of kindness and carelessness, overbearing self-confidence and depressive self-doubt.’ Economist

‘This fascinating collection of previously unpublished letters from the creator of Sherlock Holmes offers a revealing glimpse of a Renaissance man fated to be overshadowed by his most famous character…essential reading for all fans of Conan Doyle and his sleuth.’ Publishers’ Weekly

‘Sheds fascinating light on the writer's various love affairs and Spiritualist crises.’ Evening Standard

About the Author:

Jon L. Lellenberg is the representative of Conan Doyle Estate Ltd, successor to the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's daughter and heir, Dame Jean Conan Doyle. He is one of the editors of Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters.



Charles Foley is Arthur Conan Doyle's great-nephew and executor of his literary estate. He was one of the editors of Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters. He lives in Sussex, UK.



Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930) was a Scottish writer and physician, most famous for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes and long-suffering sidekick Dr Watson. Conan Doyle was a prolific writer whose other works include fantasy and science fiction stories, plays, romances, poetry, non-fiction and historical novels.

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
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