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An Ideal English Gentleman
28 February, 2020

An Ideal English Gentleman

Earlier this month we announced the completion of The Conan Doyle Estate Character Collection - an original body of work examining the famous and lesser known cast members of Conan Doyle's repertoire. 

Over the next couple of months we'll be shining a spotlight on these remarkable profiles which range from Captain Sharkey, Brigadier Gerard, Sherlock Holmes, Professor Challenger to Victorian London, The Scotland Yarders, The Baker Street Irregulars to Conan Doyle himself.

The contributors cover the Anglosphere to present the profiles in many different voices, showing how they have been depicted in illustrations and dramatisations over the years. This work developing each character's artistic life off the printed page helps us to fulfil our mission to continue to broaden the appeal of Conan Doyle’s works to an increasing demographic and new audiences.

A Spotlight on... Conan Doyle, Himself. 

Conan Doyle molded his own character with as much care and ambition as those of Holmes, Brigadier Gerard, Professor Challenger, or any of his fictional heroes. “He seemed to us,” wrote his daughter Jean, “to be the very personification of the chivalry of the stories of King Arthur’s Round Table.”

Daniel Stashower is well qualified to take on the weighty role of profiling Conan Doyle's character... The author of the award winning Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle, and co-editor as well of Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters, The Narrative of John Smith, and “Dangerous Work”: Diary of An Arctic Adventure. He is a professional writer, a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, and a three-time winner of the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

An Extract

In December 1927, The Strand Magazine posed an intriguing question to its leading contributors: “What character, in all of literature, would you most like to have created, and why?” This “fearful question” drew a lively catalog of answers. H. G. Wells put forward Shakespeare’s Falstaff, Compton Mackenzie admired Don Quixote, and D’Artagnan, Don Juan, and Robinson Crusoe were raised by other prominent writers.  

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose Sherlock Holmes had propelled The Strand to prominence, gave perhaps the most unexpected response. Instead of a gallant adventurer or intellectual pioneer, he chose Thackeray’s Colonel Newcome, a character synonymous with chivalry and virtue—a selection, The Strand was quick to point out, characteristic of Conan Doyle “as a writer and a man.” Colonel Newcome, Conan Doyle explained, was “an ideal English gentleman.”

It is, of course, a trifle, but as Sherlock Holmes tells us, there is nothing so important as trifles. Like the portrait of Henry Ward Beecher in Baker Street, Conan Doyle’s choice allows us to follow a train of thought linking an admired figure to personal experience. It requires no great leap of deductive skill to say that Conan Doyle’s esteem for the virtuous and upstanding Colonel Newcome found expression in his own life, striving to conduct himself as an ideal English gentleman.

Read the full Conan Doyle profile HERE

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