'THE NORWOOD NOTEBOOK'
AN EARLY LITERARY NOTEBOOK BY SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE 1885-99, WITH A DIARY OF SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN HIS LIFE, 1885-96
Autograph manuscript notebook, label pasted on upper cover inscribed by Conan Doyle M[agnum]. O[pus]. Idea Book. Generalia', with later label in typescript 'Norwood Notebook No. 1', original cloth-backed marbled boards, 63 pages plus blanks, 4to, damage to spine, binding loose.
Whereas Conan Doyle filled the pages of the 'Southsea Notebooks' with historical facts as well as ideas, the 'Norwood Notebook' is specifically a notebook of ideas, labelled as such on the cover. Although the ideas are culled from wide reading or from conversations, they are distilled, and as Conan Doyle uses or discards them, he annotates the entries 'used' or 'done'. Thus one entry 'The Bourse story and the tale of the man with the hereditary taint' is annotated 'This should be very strong', another, 'Idea of the Beggar near 'Change and the disappearance of Mr. Easton Brown' is later marked 'Done'. The entry which reads 'The woman who was capable of icing good claret, and of warming good champagne' is followed by 'The old nun who in her extreme old age sees the man for whose sake she had entered the convent. (used)'. Another entry 'of all ruins on Earth that of a man is saddest' is annotated 'End of Cullingworth (used)'.
There are also more extensive references to his reading, for instance 'March 22/94 Have just finished Larkin's account of Carlyle's life. It leaves me in bewilderment. What was it that this great man was striving for so strenuously during his long life?'. He also translates a substantial passage from Maupassant's Bel-Ami (published in 1885), full of journalistic life and intrigue. The frequent stories attributed to Robert Barr (assistant to Jerome K. Jerome at The Idler) testify to the high spirits of that group of friends.
There are references to Sherlock Holmes ('Sherlock Holmes story about the country woman whose husband went up to London & disappeared ...'), or the more cryptic entry, ('Holmes deductions from a stick - St Bernard dog'). He notes a remark which appealed to him 'a delicate little Soufflé with just a suspicion of foie gras as a substratum', and quotes the renowned criminologist Major Arthur Griffiths on the subject of a burglar. He includes a critique of Richards Jefferies' The Story of my Heart published in 1883 and, on 6 August 1899, recounts a conversation with Frederic Harrison.
The references to important events in his life between 1885-96 include the laconic entry for December 1893 'Killed Holmes'.