Calling All Sherlockians

by Michael Walsh

Okay, not a Sherlock Holmes story, but it is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s uncompleted first novel, The Narrative of John Smith, which is finally being published in September:

“What is interesting about it is not the story for its own sake but as a look inside the mind of this very young man — a struggling physician who is struggling even harder to become a published writer,” said Jon Lellenberg, one of the book’s editors and a Conan Doyle expert based in Chicago.

To be published by the British Library which owns an extensive Conan Doyle collection, the book was written in 1883 and 1884, a few years before the publication of “A Study In Scarlet”, the first story to feature the character of Holmes.

Through the character of John Smith, a 50-year-old man confined to his room by an attack of gout, Conan Doyle sets down his thoughts and opinions on subjects including literature, science, religion, war, and education.

As a card-carrying Sherlockian and contributor of stories to two collections of new Baker Street adventures, I’m in.

British comedian and actor Stephen Fry said the publication of the early Conan Doyle work would add to people’s understanding of the breadth of his knowledge and curiosity.

“He was the first popular writer to tell the wider reading public about narcotics, the Ku Klux Klan, the mafia, the Mormons, American crime gangs, corrupt union bosses and much else besides,” he wrote in a statement.

“His boundless energy, enthusiasm and wide-ranging mind, not to mention the pitch-perfect, muscular and memorable prose is all on display here in a work whose publication is very, very welcome indeed.”

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