NAPOLEON AND THE NAPOLEONIC SOLDIER
Sir Arthur CONAN DOYLE. Two autograph notebooks containing facts about the life of Napoleon, his family, his contemporaries and the French Army: 26 pages, folio, plus blanks, two pages removed, two with parts cut or torn away, cloth-backed marble boards; the second, in an exercise book entitled on upper cover 'Napoleonic Soldier', in pen and pencil, 27 pages, plus blanks, marbled covers detached, 4to.
The notebooks collect details and ideas about the Napoleonic era which Conan Doyle studied in depth particularly in the early 1890s. The headings in the first notebook indicate his range of interests: 'Points about Marshalls or Characters', 'Josephine', 'Marie Louise', 'Furniture trappings &c', 'The Buonaparte Family', 'Paris of that date', 'Soldiers', 'Napoleon -- his habits', 'Characteristic sayings', 'Touches for the Book & historical points'.
The second notebook contains ideas which Conan Doyle used in the creation of Brigadier Gerard both in broad terms and in detail. On the first and third pages, for instance, he tabulates certain characteristics ('Brigadier's Opinion about the different Nations of Europe from a thoroughly French point of view'), but on the second he notes, 'Curious mixture of the highest discipline & of absolute want of discipline in the French Army'.
Conan Doyle's careful study of French history and civilization provided background material for The Refugees (1893) and Uncle Bernac (1897). The first of the many Brigadier Gerard stories was written late in 1894. (2)