A collection of correspondence between members of the extended Doyle family, comprising:
SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE. Eleven autograph letters signed and two autograph postcards (one signed), [early 1880s] - 1929, including: postcard to his sister Connie, [early 1880s], a bulletin from Southsea; a letter to his aunt Annette, South Norwood, [c.1893], 'I like young Willie Hornung very much. He is one of the sweetest natured most delicate-minded men I ever knew. He is 26, and an author -- standing certainly much higher than I did at his age'; two letters to his sister Ida [Mrs Nelson Foley], Windlesham, [August 1917], 'Your views about the spirit land seem to me a little unreasonable ... Yes, one does get dogmatic but it is different from religious dogmatism, because it is founded upon concrete facts'; a letter to Rev. Cyril Angell, n.d., about golf; a letter to his brother-in-law Stewart Leckie, Bulawayo, Rhodesia, 22 January 1929, 'I got gastroenteritis at Jo'burg -- which is a hellish place', and announcing his intention of buying shares in Northern Rhodesian copper mines; and 6 brief letters and a postcard to his brother-in-law Malcolm Leckie, n.d.; together 16 pages, various sizes;
[And:] Letters to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and others as indicated, from:
HIS PATERNAL RELATIVES, including: Michael Conan (great uncle, two autograph letters, one signed, the other incomplete, Paris, 17 July 1867 and 28 December 1875, the latter to Conan Doyle's parents Charles Altamont and Mary Doyle, together three pages, 8vo, one laid down); James Doyle (uncle, two autograph letters signed, 5 September n.y. and 16 April 1879); Rt Rev Monsignor Richard Barry Doyle CF (a third cousin, 18 autograph letters signed, the majority to Jean Conan Doyle, 1916-, including a number written from a posting in Constantinople, 1920-21);
FROM HIS SISTERS: Annette (one letter, Lievrey, 29 May 1879); Lottie (14 letters to Jean Conan Doyle, 1898-1907 and n.d., mostly thanks or invitations to shopping); Connie (3 letters); Dodo (14 letters, of which three to Jean, 1899-1921); and Ida (8 letters, of which three to Jean, n.d.-1935);
FROM HIS CHILDREN: Mary ['Toots'] (25 letters and one postcard, of which 11 to Jean and two to Adrian Conan Doyle, 1899-1947 and n.d.); Kingsley (8 letters to Ida, from the Western Front, 1917); Denis (2 letters, 1916 and 1936) and Adrian (a brief make-believe note in childhood, with annotation by Arthur);
FROM BROTHERS- AND SISTERS-IN-LAW, including: Clara (wife of Innes, 22 letters, the majority to Jean, 1904-1928) and one letter from her son Frances as a child; Leslie Oldham (husband of Lottie, five letters, India, 1900-1912, one describing events on the royal visit to India) and their daughter-in-law Henrietta (one letter, 1914); Rev. Cyril Angell (husband of Dodo, 2 letters); and Nelson Foley (husband of Ida, 2 letters); also Oscar Hornung (nephew, 2 letters), with a copy of E.W. Hornung's printed tribute to his son, Trusty and Well Beloved, and a related letter;
FROM RELATIVES OF JEAN CONAN DOYLE, including her father, James B. Leckie (8 letters to Jean, 1908-1934), her brothers Stewart (one) and Malcom (two), her nephews Alec Forbes (2) and Leckie Forbes (2), and her aunt Sibbie A. Claxton (seven);
with ten other letters and documents, and five photographs of family members, including one of Richard Barry Doyle, Alexandria, 1917, inscribed 'To my distinguished kinsman A. Conan Doyle'.
The family correspondence shows the remarkable bonds of affection which united the Conan Doyle family. It is particularly interesting to note in the letters from Lottie the degree to which Jean Conan Doyle was accepted as part of the family circle long before her marriage, with Lottie as early as 1899 hoping 'that next time we meet you will call me Lottie ... I hate being Miss Doyle to any one I like'; the letters to Jean from Innes's Danish wife, Clara, are especially warm and affectionate over a period of many years. Another theme, particularly in the letters of Dodo and Ida, is the degree of the financial assistance offered by Conan Doyle to members of his family -- which in the case of Ida extended to the cancellation in his will of a loan of £3 or £4,000.
The letters give a number of telling glimpses of the writer himself, and of the style of Doyle family life. Michael Conan writes with commendations of the young Conan Doyle's early poetic efforts in 1875, having received 'a positive quarto of poetry ... I found passages of thorough original freshness and imaginative refinement ... His Feldkerch [sic] newspaper gives capital promise'; James Doyle refers in 1879 to Conan Doyle's early interest in heraldry. One letter from Lottie to Jean, Undershaw, Christmas 1904, gives a fine description of how '[Arthur] and [her husband] Leslie get exercise on misty mornings by boxing in the new motor house'.
The First World War exacted a heavy toll from the Doyles, leading to the deaths of Sir Arthur's son Kingsley, of his brother Innes, of Lottie's husband Leslie Oldham and son Willie, of Connie's son Oscar Hornung, and of Jean's nephew Alec Forbes, as well as all of Lily Loder-Symonds' brothers. The anxieties of war, and condolences, are a frequent subject in the letters; Lottie's daughter-in-law writes in 1914 asking Sir Arthur to throw his weight behind a campaign to assist war widows. The correspondence of Sir Arthur's distant cousin Rt Rev Monsignor Richard Barry Doyle ('Dick') is of note for its information on his distinguished service as Chaplain to the Forces with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers (2nd Bn), which led to his being appointed Domestic Prelate to the Pope ('so proud to add a little more lustre to the name and the house of Doyle'): the correspondence shows a keen sense of their shared genealogy, in particular the family's Wexford roots, and repeatedly emphasises his gratitude for the Conan Doyles' kindness and friendship and his sense of loneliness before meeting them ('You are my inspiration -- I wish I had known you years ago'), as well as shedding light on the difficulty of keeping the troops away from the 37,000 licensed prostitutes of Constantinople, and asking for hints on the creation of Sherlock Holmes for a lecture to the troops.
Letters from Lottie and Conan Doyle's daughter Mary discuss the writer's correspondence after his death -- the former helping Jean to identify correspondents, the latter writing to her brother Adrian about her transcriptions of the Mam's letters to their father, and sending an extract in which she chastises the newly-created knight for not making sufficient use of his title.