Arthur Conan Doyle - Papers

Object Title

Arthur Conan Doyle - Papers

Arthur Conan Doyle - Papers


1915 - 1916





Scope and Content

A collecton of letters addressed to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on the subject of the protection of troops in action using body armour and shields following his letters to The Times that were published in 1915 and 1916.


1 large archive box

Access Conditions

Open access

Administrative / Biographical History

Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh, on 22 May 1859, the eldest son and the third of the nine children of Charles Altamont Doyle, an artist and draughtsman in the Edinburgh office of works, and his wife Mary Foley. Mary and her mother were immigrants from Ireland and were descended from landed Irish Catholic and protestant stock. They supplemented their meagre income by taking in lodgers, one of whom was Charles Doyle. In 1864 Charles' growing alcoholism led to a temporary breakup during which Arthur was domiciled at Liberton Bank with sisters of the Historiographer-royal for Scotland, John Hill Burton, who influenced the young Doyle's development as historian and bibliophile. In 1867 the Doyle family reunited and inhabited the overcrowded tenement flats at 3 Sciennes Place, Edinburgh, the poorer half of a Newington cul-de-sac. Arthur headed a local street gang of boys, from whom he later evolved Sherlock Holmes's youthful allies, the Baker Street Irregulars.

Funded by wealthy uncles, he attended Hodder preparatory school from 1868 to 1870 and then its senior school, Stonyhurst College, from 1870 to 1875. He was happy at Hodder, less happy at Stonyhurst, but developed talents as a story-teller and sportsman. He spent a final year of schooling at Feldkirch, Austria, in 1875-6, which added to his remarkable ability to view the past from non-British perspectives. He lost his belief in the Catholic Doctrine while at Stonyhurst, although he later regained some of its attendant cults (guardian angels, the communion of saints) when fashioning his spiritualist faith.

Conan Doyle, as he became known, entered Edinburgh University medical school in 1876 and witnessed variety of medical characters, chief among them his mentor, Joseph Bell. Conan Doyle enthusiastically supported the British effort in the Second South African Was and served as a doctor in the volunteer-staffed Longman Hospital in 1900, after which he defended British policy if not always British practice in The Great Boer War (1900) and in The War in South Africa: its cause and Conduct (1902). The latter, translated into many foreign languages and Braille, became the major international advocate of the British case in the controversial war, and bowing to his mother's insistence a somewhat reluctant Conan Doyle accepted a knighthood for it in 1892.

Conan Doyle was no bellicose warmonger in the years before the First World War, being converted to the belief in a German threat only two years before its outbreak: he had cherished the memories of his schooldays among German speakers and drew on Goethe and Heine. Yet his stories published in the last years of peace reflect a disintegrating world. He confronted this in his crusade against the Belgians' continuation of Leopold's slave state in Congo, in his support for the legitimization of divorce, and in his part in the exposure of grave miscarriages of British justice, namely those of George Edalji, convicted of a series of horse and cattle mutilations, and Oscar Slater, imprisoned for the murder of Marion Gilchrist.

Conan Doyle also championed Irish home rule after two unionist candidacies in Scotland in 1900 and 1906. His sense of the glory and nonsense and scientific advance found happy resolution in The Lost World (1912), where academic vendetta at its most ludicrous continually punctuates a thrilling quest to establish the survival of dinosaurs.Conan Doyle also served as military correspondent and pro-ally historian in the First World War, with several volumes culminating in the British Campaign in France and Flanders (1920), the original recording each year of war as soon as possible thereafter, with two volumes for 1918. Conan Doyle died at his home in Sussex on 7 July 1830.



DOY 1/1 - Typed letter on Ministry of Munitions paper from Ernest Moir, Comproller of the Munitions Invention Department
DOY 1/2 - Typed letter on Ministry of Munitions page from Colonel Henry Edward Fane Goold Adams, acting Comptroller of the Munitions Invention Department
DOY 1/3 - Autograph letter on War Office paper signed by David Lloyd George, Secretary of State for War
DOY 1/4 - Typed letter on War Office paper from Lieutenant General Sir William Robertson, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, relating to the origin of wound badges
DOY 1/5 - Autograph letter typed on War Office paper signed by David Lloyd George, Secretary of State for War
DOY 1/6 - Autograph letter from Janet Peck
DOY 1/7 - Autograph letter from Arthur Rotsaert (?), 2nd Lieutenant Royal Belgian Engineers
DOY 1/8 - Autograph letter from H. Chatel including a newspaper cutting containing a translation of Conan Doyle's letter to the Times
DOY 1/9 - Autograph letter in French from Mlle. Marthe Durand (?)
DOY 1/10/A - Letter from the Whitfield Manufacturing Company Limited
DOY 1/10/B - Leaflet entitled, 'The Dayfield Body-Shield : a proved life-saver'
DOY 1/11 - Autograph letter from J. Davies, patentee, manufacturer and merchant offering to make samples of any new body shield and helmets
DOY 1/12 - Autograph letter from J.B. Forster with designs for a shield
DOY 1/13 - Autograph letter from A. Middleton with a design for a shield to protect 2, 4 or 6 soldiers
DOY 1/14 - Autograph letter from Philippe Millet (?)
DOY 1/15/A - Autograph letter from John Pullman
DOY 1/15/B - Advertisment for the Pullman A1 Shield
DOY 1/15/C - Copy of a speach by John Pullman to the new Liverymen of the Leathersellers' Company
DOY 1/16 - Autograph letter from George Seaborn
DOY 1/17/A - Autograph letter from George Wakeman showing a design for steel body-armour
DOY 1/17/B - Autograph letter from George Wakeman with a design for a wire entanglement destroyer
DOY 1/18 - Typed letter on Victoria University of Manchester, Faculty of Technology paper, signed Professor Miles Walker
DOY 1/19/A - Letter from Roneo Limited with a drawing of the Roneo-Miris Body Shield
DOY 1/19/B - Leaflet showing the effects of various ammunition on a piece of armour plate made by Miris Steel Company Limited
DOY 1/19/C - Leaflet showing the effects of a bullet on a steel helmet made by the Miris Steel Company Limited
DOY 1/20 - Magazine article entitled, 'The Diagre Bullet-Proof Shield'
DOY 1/21 - Autograph letter from J.R. Cohu to Mrs Doyle
DOY 1/22 - Letters to The Times on the subject of body armour etc including those by Conan Doyle
DOY 1/23 - Typed letter on Admiralty paper from William Graham Greene, Permanent Secretary to the Admiralty, relating to life saving at sea
DOY 1/24 - Testimonials relating to life saving at sea
DOY 1/25 - Large brown envelope with a drawing of a shield bearing the title 'Armour' and the inscription 'Letters, etc, to my darling and his letter to the Times wishing the War Office to provide body shields for the troops in the war'