A PROFILE OF SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is most remembered as the creator of Sherlock Holmes. What few people of today realize is that Doyle was an expert psychic researcher who championed the cause of Life-After-Death.
Doyle was born in the year 1859 of Irish parentage in Edinburgh. He was educated at Stonyhurst, in Germany, and studied medicine at Edinburgh. Dr. Doyle served his country as a surgeon in the British military during the South African war. Upon returning to civilian life, he opened up his medical practice.
Dr. Doyle turned to writing to supplement his income because his medical practice was not supporting him. Dr. Doyle became so successful at it that he gave up medicine and became a full time writer. Doyle was a most prolific writer. In addition to the Sherlock Holmes stories he wrote many historical romance novels such as "Micah Clarke", "The White Company", "Brigadier Gerard", "Sir Nigel" and "Rodney Stone". "The Lost World" and "The Poison Belt" were science fiction stories. He also had regular articles in many newspapers such as the London Times.
His first introduction to the psychic took place while he was a physician at Southsea. Between 1885-88 he was invited to take part in table turning seances at the house of a patient, General Drayson. Table tipping was quite popular at this time and since Drayson was a teacher in the Greenwich Naval College, a keen mathematician and a man of scholarly education, Doyle decided to participate. Through the mediumship of a railway signalman apports were produced. However, Doyle simply could not believe the phenomenon was genuine and he secretly doubted the honesty of the medium. But his intellectual interest was aroused and he wanted answers. He joined the Society for Psychical Research and carried out a series of experiments in telepathy with a Mrs. Ball, satisfying himself that this phenomenon was genuine. By 1920 he still had not arrived at a definite conclusion on the major issue of psychic research, life after death.
He continued his studies for thirty years, before, on the summit of his literary fame and at the age of 58, he publicly allied himself with the cause of Spiritualism by the publication of "The New Revelation" and "The Vital Message". The critics charge that his public announcement was attributable to his bereavement suffered during World War I was unfounded. Referring to it in his "History of Spiritualism" Conan Doyle readily admits that "the sight of a world which was distraught with sorrow, and which he had so long pursued, were of immense practical importance and could no longer be regarded as a mere intellectual hobby or fascinating pursuit of a novel research. It was this realization which, from early in 1916, caused him and his wife to devote themselves largely to this subject (Life-After-Death or Spiritualism), to lecture upon it in many countries, and to travel to Australia, New Zealand, America and Canada upon missions of instruction."
"As to the charge of credulity," he declared further on, "which is invariably directed by the unreceptive against anyone who forms a positive opinion upon this subject, the author can solemnly aver that in the course of his long career as an investigator, he cannot recall one single case where it was clearly shown that he had been mistaken upon any serious point, or had given a certificate of honesty to a performance which was afterwards clearly proved to be dishonest. A man who is credulous does not take twenty years of reading and experiment before he comes to his fixed conclusions."
Doyle began his speaking tours in 1918, and visited the principal cities of Great Britain first, then in 1920-21 Australia and New Zealand. Early in 1922 he went to America and toured the Eastern States, the following year he traveled as far as California. In 1928 he left for South Africa and in the autumn of the same year he lectured on Spiritualism in the Northern countries of Europe.
Having taken so many years to draw his conclusions and having started out so skeptically to begin with, Doyle took strong positions when the area of the psychic was attacked. He stood up for William Hope, the spirit-photographer at the time of the 1922 scandal in which the S.P.R. was involved. He was further antagonized by society representative Theodore Besterman's review of Mrs. Hack's "Modern Miracles at Millesimo Castle", and as he believed the honor of Professor E. Bozzano to have been impugned he resigned his membership. The resignation widened the gulf between the S.P.R. and the Spiritualists as other members of followed Conan Doyle.
At the International Spiritualist congress held in Paris in 1925 he was nominated honorary president. In the same year he had a public discussion in London with Sir Arthur Keith on Spiritualism and won on points. He was president of the London Spiritualist Alliance when Mrs. Cantlon, one of the mediums endorsed by the Alliance, was charged with fortune telling. When the Alliance was assessed with costs amounting to 800 pounds he voiced a vigorous protest in The Times against what he considered the persecution of the Spiritualists. He started a drive for the modification of the Fortune Telling Act, and on July 1, 1930, led a deputation to Mr. Clynes, the Home Secretary. Six days later he died.
On July 13th a big reunion was held in the Albert Hall, London. An empty chair was left for the deceased writer. Mrs. Estelle Roberts asserted that she saw clairvoyantly Conan Doyle in the chair and transmitted a personal message to the family which was accepted as evidential. Since then numerous messages are claimed to have been received from him through various mediums. Perhaps the most noteworthy one was discussed by Harry Price in the January 1931 issue of the Nash Magazine under the title "The Return of Conan Doyle." The medium was Mrs. Garrett. The conversation between Harry Price and the spirit of Conan Doyle had many striking features. The majority of this session is reproduced in John G. Fuller's "The Airman Who Would Not Die". This book is available in paperback and is highly recommended for it is one of the best documented cases for Life-After-Death.
Psychic books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: "The New
Revelation" (1918); "The Vital Message" (1919);
"Wanderings of a Spiritualist" (1921); "The Coming of
the Fairies" (1922); "Our American Adventure" (1923);
"Our Second American Adventure" (1923); "Memories and
Adventure" (1924); "Spiritualists' Reader " (1924);
"The Land of Mist" (1916); "History of
Spiritualism" (1926); "The Case for Spirit Photography"
(1924); "Pheneas Speaks" (1927); "Our African
Winter" (1929); "The Edge of the Unknown" (1930). I
recommend any of these books. Sir Arthur approached the subject of
the psychic in an objective, intelligent, and honest manner. I
believe all of these books are out of print but can be obtained
through your local used and rare book store for a price that is
usually less than that of a new book.