Conan Doyle: The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes by Andrew Lycett; Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters by Daniel Stashower, Jon Lellenberg and Charles Foley - review by Allan Massie

Allan Massie

Odd Cove

Conan Doyle: The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes


Weidenfeld & Nicolson 433pp £20 order from our bookshop

Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters


HarperPress 720pp £25 order from our bookshop

Conan Doyle has not lacked for biographers. His life has been written by, among others, Hesketh Pearson, John Dickson Carr, Julian Symons, Owen Dudley Edwards and Michael Coren – evidence of the fascination he exerts. Now Andrew Lycett (author of lives of Ian Fleming, Rudyard Kipling and Dylan Thomas) comes up with a new one, and Jon Lellenberg, one of the compilers of A Life in Letters, himself published The Quest for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle twenty years ago. It may seem unlikely that there is anything new to be discovered about him, and indeed there is little that is novel in either of these books.

Reviewing Hesketh Pearson’s biography (1943), Graham Greene wrote: ‘One has seen that face over a hundred bar counters – the lick of hair over the broad white brow, the heavy moustache with pointed ends, the firm, good-humoured eyes, the man who is a cause of conviviality in other men, but

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