mystery of Conan Doyle
mystery of Arthur Conan Doyle. Photo: PA Images |
will forever be associated with Conan Doyle's best known story - The Hound of
But what if new evidence came to light that Conan Doyle
was not the true author of the story - that he was a plagiarist, an adulterer
and a murderer?
Could someone else really have written The Hound of The
Inside Out investigates a mystery as complex and curious as
a Sherlock Holmes murder case.
Hound of the Baskervilles
Hound of the Baskervilles is one of Britain's best loved detective stories featuring
the nation's favourite master sleuth, Sherlock Holmes.
But could it be possible
that the story was plagiarised from another writer?
Devon author Rodger
Garrick-Steele believes that Conan Doyle lifted the story from a fellow writer,
Bertram Fletcher Robinson:
"The story had already been
written - it was Bertie's manuscript called An Adventure on Dartmoor, and this
is what was converted into The Hound of The Baskervilles."
claims to have found circumstantial evidence that Conan Doyle may have murdered
his former friend when he became worried that the deception might be exposed.
also believes that Arthur Conan Doyle may have been having an adulterous affair
with Robinson's wife.
So is this a tale of more than just plagiarism?
Our story requires further investigation so Inside
Out decided to collect some clues to help solve the loose ends in this mystery.
start with what we do know about Conan Doyle.
Hound of the Baskervilles - cult fiction and film|
Doyle originally trained to be a doctor and for a short time shared a practice
in Plymouth's Durnford Street.
Twenty years later he returned to the South
West of England with his friend Bertram Fletcher Robinson who had captivated Doyle
with the legends of hounds on Dartmoor.
The two agreed to write a book.
Tor Mires was one of many places they visited. It would be the inspiration for
Grimpen Mire in The Hound of the Baskervilles.
It was a place full of mystery
and Conan Doyle wrote of it - "A false step yonder means death to man or
The mysterious case of the two writers
visit, the two men returned to the old Duchy Hotel in Princetown, and this according
to Garrick-Steele is where things took a strange twist.
Conan Doyle wrote
to his mother telling her that the story was nearly half written.
asks how could this be if Doyle had only spent one day on Dartmoor?
and leading expert on The Hound of The Baskervilles, Philip Weller, believes there
is a logical explanation:
"The first third of the story
doesn't take place on Dartmoor, so it's perfectly reasonable he'd written it before
arriving on Dartmoor."
Conan Doyle went on to enjoy huge
success with the finished book.
The Hound of the Baskervilles became an
instant classic inspiring countless film and television adaptations.
Doyle did credit Robinson which may rule out the murder theory.
"Well, he had to
. Fletcher Robinson had already
written the story."
Rodger Garrick-Steele believes that it was Robinson
alone who wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles.
A study in adultery?
Garrick-Steele also believes that Conan Doyle had an affair with Robinson's wife.
mystery to baffle Sherlock Holmes|
He claims that Robinson's
wife Gladys committed adultery with Conan Doyle in a bid to get pregnant.
believe she had an affair... we cannot prove it," he says.
Weller doesn't agree:
"Arthur Conan Doyle was a man of integrity
I don't think he was capable of being an adulterer."
But that isn't the end of the speculation about Conan Doyle's
Garrick-Steele claims Conan Doyle murdered Robinson, fearing
he'd be exposed as a plagiarist and an adulterer.
It's a mystery that even
the great Sherlock Holmes might struggle to unravel.
According to official
records Bertram Fletcher Robinson died in 1907 at the age 36 from Typhoid.
Garrick-Steele thinks Conan Doyle poisoned Robinson with laudanum, using his medical
knowledge as a qualified doctor.
The case of the poisoner?
application has been made to have Robinson's body exhumed.
The Diocese of
Exeter are expected to announce a decision within weeks.
believes it was unusual for a Typhoid victim to be buried rather than cremated
100 years ago, and suspects foul play.
Not necessarily according to Dr Anne
Hardy from University College London:
"In the case of Typhoid
it was very important that body fluids didn't escape from the coffin so it would
probably be lined. The public health authorities would trust a middle class family
to do things properly so the chances of an enforced cremation seem to me very
Doyle's super sleuth on TV and in the movies|
believes that Conan Doyle had Robinson poisoned with Laudanum - a common pain
killer at the time.
But would Laudanum really mimic the symptoms of Typhoid?
and coma are both features of the condition, but in Typhoid you would also see
the patient suffering fever and a rash of spots across the chest.
are very distinct features which can distinguish the two conditions," says
So how would Garrick-teele feel if an exhumation confirmed that
Robinson died of Typhoid?
"I'm not so sure I can accept that. If there
is Typhoid how do we know it's Bertie's body in there?" he says.
Arthur Conan Doyle has been accused of plagiarism, adultery
and murder so what does Philip Weller make of it all?
is only one person making these claims
there is little evidence to support
there is a lot of hard evidence to refute them."
will we ever find out how Robinson really died?
It's now up to the Diocese
of Exeter to decide whether the exhumation should go ahead.
then, this is one Conan Doyle mystery that will remain far from having an elementary
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