Thursday, September 06, 2007

You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive...

Jim Gilchrist at the Scotsman on an excellent-sounding new biography of Arthur Conan Doyle by Andrew Lycett.

I really grew up on those Sherlock Holmes stories, I love 'em....

There is a captivating detail here that would make a good example in a history-writing workshop:
Lycett refers to Leckie as Doyle's "mistress", but how certain is he that, prior to Louise's death and his marriage to Leckie in 1907, theirs was a physical affair? "I think he was in this awful dilemma. He had this wife who was ill, who I don't think he was very passionate about but who he respected and liked. He did his best for her in many ways, taking her abroad to try and ensure she'd live longer. However, during this period he met and fell in love with this younger, attractive and in many ways more suitable woman.

"It's quite difficult to get into his relationship with Jean, even from this vast material, because a lot of it has been weeded out. But what is interesting, and seems very revealing, is to find out from the 1901 census [five years before Louise's death] that on that day Conan Doyle was staying in a hotel in Forest Row in Sussex, we see Jean Leckie was also a guest. So, it was a pretty close liaison."
The 1901 census! Evidence! Isn't that amazing?!? And so appropriate to the subject...

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