THE WHITE COMPANY AND SIR NIGEL
Sir Arthur CONAN DOYLE. Three autograph notebooks containing ideas and historical notes for his two novels set in the Middle Ages, with further miscellaneous autograph notes:
1. The White Company: notes on medical life and history with extensive reading list of 46 volumes (including Lacroix, Jusserand, Froissart, Guizot, Strutt, Longman and Charles Reade, The Cloister and the Hearth), patterned red cloth (binding and one leaf detached), 117 pages plus a few blanks, eleven pages with drawings in pen and ink, 4to.
2. Sir Nigel: notes on arms and armour, fortifications, heraldry and battles with diagram of formations during the Battle of Crécy, 69 pages plus blanks, glazed cloth, 4to; also, notebook entitled on cover 'Final Gleanings of Middle Ages' containing phrases, oaths, expressions, details of dress, armour, archery, heraldry and a section headed 'Possible Situations' tabulating ideas for Sir Nigel (including 'Nigel as a Minstrel in the Enemys Camp', 'Do the whole Campaign of Crecy - 10,000 wds - Straight run in', 27½ pages, 165 x 101mm, paper covers with calendar for 1904 and 1905 on lower cover.
[Also:] miscellaneous autograph notes on chivalry, 'The Sea fight & passage', 'Effective situations and incidents', 'The Radicals of the time', 8 pages, folio, with old string tie; autograph notes entitled 'Final Gleaning', 9 pages, folio, original staple; autograph notes on food, hawks and falcons, 'Points for White Company' and a reading list, 10 pages, 8vo; notes on Edward III (in another hand).
The White Company, one of Conan Doyle's most successful and enduring works was a tale of English mercenaries led by the condottiere Sir John Hawkwood. Conan Doyle began to accumulate material for The White Company during an Easter holiday in the New Forest in 1889. He was hard at work during September and the novel was finished in July 1890. In a symposium on the book he had most enjoyed writing, Conan Doyle stated 'Of my novels The White Company gave me most pleasure. I was young and full of the first joys of life and action, and I think I got some of it into my pages', (quoted in Green and Gibson, p. 47).
The White Company was published by Smith Elder on 26 October 1891 (the first authorized American edition was published by John W. Lovell Co in New York on 18 August 1891).
Conan Doyle had considered writing an antecedent to The White Company before the outbreak of the Boer War. He began writing Sir Nigel in the summer of 1905 and the book was finished by October. It was published by Smith Elder on 15 November 1906 (the first American edition was published by McClure, Phillips & Co, on 1 October 1906).