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- DescriptionAt the end of the 19th century, perhaps every man wanted to be Arthur Conan Doyle. He had written historical vels, short stories of horror and the supernatural; and displayed huge energy and talent in a variety of fields. He was a fine cricketer (he once took the wicket of the great WC Grace); played football, rugby and golf. He had trained and practiced as a doctor; campaigned for underdogs, like the falsely accused George Edalji; he liked fast cars and the new and dangerous invention of the aeroplane; he had the idea of a channel tunnel; introduced skis to Switzerland; and knew both Harry Houdini and Oscar Wilde. He was an adventurer, a controversialist, war reporter and knight of the realm. But most famously of all, he had created Sherlock Holmes, the world's most famous detective - based on his former medical professor, Joseph Bell. All in all, Doyle was a Boy's Own dream. Yet for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, all such achievements paled into significance when set against his commitment to spiritualism. Although interested in the subject for many years, he publicly converted to the cause around time of the First World War - much to many people's amazement: 'Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has many striking characteristics,' wrote Ruth Brandon. 'He is gigantically tall and strong. He is a gifted story-teller. He is a man of strong opinions and considerable political influence. But perhaps the most extraordinary thing about him is the combination of all the attributes of worldly success with an almost child-like literalness and credulity of mind, manifested particularly in relation to spiritualism and its surrounding phemena.' 'Conversations with Conan Doyle' is an imagined conversation with this remarkable figure. But while the conversation is imagined, Doyle's words are t; they are all authentically his. 'For many, Conan Doyle's commitment to spiritualism is an embarrassing aberration,' says Simon Parke. 'They want him to go back and just be the creator of Sherlock Holmes. But people don't fit into boxes, and Doyle certainly doesn't! So I want people to meet the man, hear him speak - and then make up their own minds. He's often passionate; but never dull.'
- Author BiographySir Arthur Conan Doyle was one of Britain's most celebrated writers with his invention of the ultimate detective, Sherlock Holmes, completely altering the crime-fiction genre. As well as this he was a pioneering sportsman, doctor of medicine and champion of the underdog, helping to free two men who were unjustly imprisoned. Of most importance to the man himself, however, was his belief in Spiritualism and the spreading of the 'vital message'. He was born Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle into a strict Roman Catholic household. He was sent away to Jesuit boarding schools until he was 17 years old and although some aspects of the religion appealed to him he believed that the foundations of Catholicism, and all Christian based faiths, were fundamentally weak so he chose to be an agnostic. He received his degree in medicine from the University of Edinburgh Medical School in 1881 and by this time had already began investigating Spiritualism and had began attending seances, a fact that rebuffs the more common idea that he found Spiritualism after his son Kingsley died in 1918. In fact by that point not only had Arthur believed in Spiritualism for almost 30 years but he had even declared this fact in 'The Light' magazine in 1916 and spoken publicly about his beliefs in 1917. His first book to deal with the subject, 'The New Revelation', was published before Kingsley's death too so it is fair to say that Arthur's belief in Spiritualism was not a knee-jerk reaction to his son's death. Arthur didn't immediately fill the void left by his loss of faith in Catholicism with Spiritualism. It took him until 1887 to write 2 letters to 'The Light' in which he discussed his conversion to Spiritualism, a fact that once again plays down any talk of an overnight and rash change of faith. Arthur joined the British Society for Psychical Research in 1893 which at that time counted groundbreaking naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace, philosopher William James, scientists Williams Crookes and Oliver Lodge and future Prime Minister Arthur Balfour amongst its members. During one of his investigations for the Society in 1894 he was involved in a case that re-enforced his beliefs when he, along with fellow researchers Frank Podmore and Dr. Sydney Scott, was asked to look into a possible haunting case at the Dorset home of a Colonel Elmore. The Elmore family had reported strange loud pained sounds that were so disturbing that most of the staff left their jobs and the family dog would not enter the rooms where the noises emanated from. After spending some evenings at the home and hearing some very loud sounds the party left unsatisfied as their findings were inconclusive. Not long after this the body of a young child was found buried in the garden and Conan Doyle believed that it was the spirit of the dead child that was responsible for the phenomena in the house. Although Arthur had continued his research into Spiritualism he hadn't spoken publicly about his beliefs although he did drop hints about his thoughts on the subject through his character Stark Munro in 1895's 'The Stark Munro Letters'. This relative silence all changed as a result of World War I as he himself is quoted as saying; I might have drifted on my whole life as a psychical researcher - but the War came, and it brought earnestness into all our souls and made us look more closely at our own beliefs and reassess our values.A In 1916 he wrote an article in 'The Light' discussing his change of attitude and reinvigorated belief in Spiritualism and from that moment on his life's work became the spreading of the 'new revelation' even though he was fully aware of the damage it would do to his reputation. 'The New Revelation', which was his first published work to deal with Spiritualism, arrived in 1918 and the following year he released 'The Vital Message' which, again, was solely concerned with Spiritualist matters. By 1920 he had embarked on a tour of Australia and New Zealand promoting Spir
- Author(s)Arthur C. Conan Doyle,Simon Parke
- PublisherWhite Crow Books
- Date of Publication01/04/2010
- Series TitleConversations with...
- Place of PublicationGuildford
- Country of PublicationUnited Kingdom
- ImprintWhite Crow Books
- Content Noteblack & white illustrations
- Weight322 g
- Width140 mm
- Height216 mm
- Spine12 mm
- Format DetailsWith printed dust jacket
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