19 November 2003
DOYLE, Sir Arthur Conan (1859-1930). Autograph manuscript signed ('A. Conan Doyle') and dated on last leaf, of an article, 'A Glimpse of the Army', 12 May 1900, some printer's markings in blue pencil, 13 pages, folio (325 x 205mm), gathered by a staple at upper left corner (some soiling and fingermarks, apparently in printer's ink; occasional light wear to margins; signature and date on last leaf torn out and skillfully re-attached).
A vivid piece of reportage from the Boer War. Conan Doyle has left his post at the military hospital for a few days with the army. He describes the sights and sounds, the characters and language of an army on the move: the looting of a farm, the entry into a town, an artillery bombardment at sunset -- 'the last word of the Empire -- the mighty angry voice roaring over the veldt'; the piece ends on a melancholy note, with the discovery of a lone dead Australian mounted infantryman, abandoned beyond some maize fields, a single red chess piece propped on his water bottle. Conan Doyle's writing is vivid and unflinching, critical when necessary and exhilarated when moved -- war reporting of the highest class.
'A Glimpse of the Army' was published by the Strand Magazine in September 1900; in a revised form the piece was incorporated into his Memories and Adventures (1924), as Chapter 17, 'Days with the Army'.
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