This blog brings together information about literary archives in the news, conferences and publications. Our book "The Boundaries of the Literary Archive: Reclamation and Representation" (Ashgate 2013) is out now!
6 Jun 2011
Lost Conan Doyle novel to be published
"After languishing unpublished for almost 130 years, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's first novel is set to be released for the first time this autumn. [...]
"As you might expect with the creator of Sherlock Holmes, there's a bit of a mystery around the manuscript," said Rachel Foss, lead curator of modern literary manuscripts at the British Library, which is publishing the 150-page book in November. "He wrote it in 1883 and 1884, when he was starting to try to establish himself in the medical profession and as a writer. He sent it to a publisher, but it got lost in the post, so he decided to try and redo it from memory. The manuscript we have is the novel as reconstructed from memory, and it stops around chapter six."
The book, said Foss, is "fairly loose in terms of plot and character", but it does provide "some hints towards the Sherlock Holmes stories to come". John Smith's housekeeper, Mrs Rundle, for example, "can be seen as a prototype for the garrulous Mrs Hudson, Sherlock Holmes's landlady".
"It gives a really fascinating insight into the early stages of [Conan Doyle's] development as a writer – his apprenticeship period ... It represents his first attempt to make the transition from short story writer to novelist," she said. "It demonstrates that there are still things we can learn about him.""