The Adventures of Conan Doyle (Magill's Literary Annual 1977)
Charles Higham’s life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, traces the adventures of that eminent Victorian from his Dickensian childhood in Edinburgh in the 1860’s to his death in 1930, and beyond, to his well-attested messages from beyond the grave to his family and selected friends. The author is a poet and essayist of note whose father, Sir Charles Higham, served with Conan Doyle on the governing board of the First Battalion of Sussex Volunteers during World War I. The author obviously admires his famous subject and finds his character fascinating. He reports Conan Doyle’s many excursions into the realm of the spirits fully but non-committally; he is interested not in proving or disproving the authenticity of Conan Doyle’s otherworldly experiences, but in showing the external forces as well as the personality traits which impelled him to seek them.
Higham relates the incidents of Conan Doyle’s life to his work, not an uncommon structure for the biography of a literary figure; but Conan Doyle’s work, more than most, reflects as well the colorful panorama of contemporary popular culture. Conan Doyle wrote detective and horror stories, historical novels, political and spiritualist tracts, plays, humorous and sentimental sketches, and science fiction. Of these, the political writings must obviously have sprung from contemporary events; the spiritualist material, too, had its roots in its author’s times as well as in his...
(The entire section is 1958 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1977)
Kirkus Reviews. XLIV, August 15, 1976, p. 940.
New Statesman. XCII, November 26, 1976, p. 751.
New York Times Book Review. November 7, 1976, p. 6.
Observer. November 28, 1976, p. 31.
Publisher’s Weekly. CCX, August 16, 1976, p. 113.
Spectator. CCXXXVII, December 4, 1976, p. 25.
(The entire section is 30 words.)