Monday, May 24, 2004

"The British Library has ensured that a significant corpus of the papers of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - creator of the most famous of literary detectives, Sherlock Holmes - will remain in the public domain for access by scholars and researchers and the general public. Amidst the controversy generated by the auction of Conan Doyle material held yesterday, 19 May 2004, the Library acted decisively in the national interest to secure ten significant lots, comprising over 1,000 documents in all. The Library is currently seeking to secure other items that went unsold at auction; it will make a further announcement in due course." (Saved for the Nation: Conan Doyle manuscripts bought by the British Library. Press Release, 21 May 2004).

This sale received extra publicity following the mysterious death of Holmes expert, Richard Lancelyn Green, who had openly opposed the sale and dispersal of the collection. The coroner found an open verdict at the inquest on 23 April 2004, after the 50-year-old was discovered asphyxiated by a garrotte tightened round his neck. Other experts, including staff of the British Library also expressed their concern at the manuscript's sale at open auction by Christie's.

It's great news that the BL has been able to save a proportion of the letters and writings, which had been the subject of family dispute over the years.

'Conan Doyle sale nears £1m mark.' BBC News, 19 May 2004.

'The Conan Doyle Collections' and the British Library. Press Release, 17 May 2004.

Lost Archive of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle To Be Offered At Christie's In May. Press Release, 15 May 2004.

'Open verdict in death of Holmes expert' by Jamie Wilson. The Guardian, 24 April 2004.

'Conan Doyle Mystery Solved.' CBS News, 24 March 2004.