E.W. HORNUNG (1866-1921)
A series of 13 autograph letters signed (one incomplete) and two postcards (one signed) to his brother-in-law, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (one to Lady (Jean) Conan Doyle), Kensington, Dovercourt Bay, Essex, Partridge Green, Sussex, and n.p., 21 October 1892 - 11 August 1920, together 39 pages, 8vo and 4to; and one autograph letter signed by Sir Arthur CONAN DOYLE to Hornung, S.S. Elbe, 'on a Cod bank in the Gulf Stream which is not a sufficient postal address', n.d., one page, 8vo; and 5 autograph letters signed by Hornung to his sister-in-law Ida [Mrs Nelson Foley], Kensington and with the Y.M.C.A. at the Western Front, 16 July 1915 and n.d., 17 pages, 4to; [with:] E.W. Hornung. Trusty and Well Beloved The Little Record of Arthur Oscar Hornung, 2nd Lieutenant 3rd (attached 2nd) Essex Regiment. Privately printed, 1915.
THE CREATOR OF RAFFLES TO HIS BROTHER-IN-LAW, THE CREATOR OF SHERLOCK HOLMES. Hornung's earliest letters are much pre-occupied with their shared profession of writing: in 1892 he writes 'I have never been in such good form for work, and think I have turned out one or two short stories with real muscle and marrow in them'; he sends a number of detailed considerations of Conan Doyle's works -- 'Your medical touches are as brilliant as Kipling's India and barrack room ones' (1894). In the same letter of 1894, he is full of the joys of Davos -- 'we are coming out next winter, yea though we throw up a dozen pot-boilers to make it possible' -- and ends with a sketch of himself skiing chaotically (the sport which Conan Doyle had just premiered in Switzerland), with a note 'I will do better next year'. The same winter sports holiday yields a postcard with a parody of the Gilbert and Sullivan song 'Tit-willow' [from The Mikado]:
'At a little side table a Novelist sat
Drinking mellow Grumello, Grumello.
And I said to him, "Author, what is there in that --
That mellow Grumello, Grumello?
There are Clarets and hocks which you never have tried
That would be quite as good for your Noble Inside" --
With a deafening smack of his lips he replied,
"No! Mellow Grumello, Grumello!"'.
Hornung's wartime letters are much pre-occupied with the progress of the conflict, and of his son, Oscar, and the news of Oscar's death in 1915 evidently hits hard: 'Our beloved boy was killed on Tuesday'. He responds with shared suffering at Conan Doyle's losses in a letter of 28 February 1919, 'You are robbed of a son and brother in the same winter, & after all they had been through'. The last letter of the series contains advice on sight-seeing on Conan Doyle's lecture tour of Australia.
E.W. Hornung married Conan Doyle's sister Connie in 1893. In 1899 he published the first of his accounts of the adventures of Raffles, The Amateur Cracksman. His relationship with his brother-in-law was close: he was a key-figure, as wicket-keeper, in Conan Doyle's cricket team in the early 1900s. (22)