DOYLE, Sir Arthur Conan (1859-1930). Three autograph letters signed ('A. Conan Doyle') to Guy Ash, Eastbourne, Windlesham and n.p. [London], n.d. [1914? and September 1921], 3 pages, 8vo (2 letters attached to 4to leaves, one on pink lined paper, slight spotting), and one secretarial letter to the same, 14 April 1917, one page, 8vo; together with five letters to Conan Doyle by Leslie Curnow (3), Baird and Tatlock (laboratory furnishers), and another correspondent (20 July - 13 September 1921), and 2 other letters, together approximately 11 pages, 8vo; a manuscript article by Ash, 5 small photographs showing Doyle and others in the Civil Defence Movement (1917), and printed items.
Conan Doyle writes to his dentist, recommending his exemption from active service and about a dental matter, and in two letters referring to Ash's assistance to him in preparing for experiments in spirit photography by the use of dicyanine and 'two slightly concave slides [to] imprison the dicyanine between them ... Order anything you like and put it down to me'; and later 'I've lost all heart over dicyanine ... At present I can get no result with any screen, dark, light or carmine'. Leslie Curnow writes from the office of Light (the journal of the London Spiritualist Alliance) on optical glass and other matters relating to Dr. Kilner's work [The Human Atmosphere, 1911).
Conan Doyle's interest in spiritualism intensified after the death of his son. From 1918 it eclipsed every other subject in its importance to him and he became its world apostle. He was convinced of the 'etheric body', visible in photographs taken at seances, and believed that dicyanine could be used to reveal an aura around the person. Ash, who met Conan Doyle in the Civil Defence movement, describes seances at his house, but records that Conan Doyle saw nothing although Lady Doyle said that she did. In 1921 Conan Doyle was gathering material for his articles in The Strand and for The Coming of the Fairies, in which he showed himself thoroughly taken in by the so-called Cottingley fairy photographs, the famous hoax perpetrated by two children.