Lost Conan Doyle first novel, The Narrative of John Smith, published for first time


26 September 2011
imports_WRI_0-2t1r140n-100000_60073.jpg Lost Conan Doyle first novel, The Narrative of John Smith, published for first time
Lost in the post, and never resubmitted despite him working to recreate the manuscript from memory, the first novel from Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has finally been released to the public ...
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's first novel was lost to the public twice: the first manuscript was lost in the post en route to the publishers and, despite rewriting it from memory and subsequently drawing on the text in other works, Conan Doyle never got round to submitting it second time round.

The Sherlock Holmes creator - whose literary career was yet to take off when The Narrative of John Smith was written in the early 1880s - later joked: "My shock at its disappearance would be as nothing to my horror if it were suddenly to appear again – in print."

The semi-autobiographical novel features the titular John Smith confined to his room to recover from a bout of gout, discussing contemporary issues of literature science and politics with his doctor, friends and other visitors. Elements of the novel would later crop up in his Sherlock Holmes stories, not least Smith's talkative landlady Mrs Rundle, a forerunner of Holmes' housekeeper Mrs Hudson.

A display of items from the British Library's Conan Doyle collection are on display in Arthur Conan Doyle: The Unknown Novel, in the Library's Sir John Ritblat Treasures Gallery until 5 January 2012.

The Library has also arranged an event with Anthony Horowitz, who has been commissioned by the Conan Doyle Estate to write a new Sherlock Holmes novel, The House of Silk. Anthony will discuss the novel, the characters Holmes and Watson, and Conan Doyle's literary achievements with Sherlock Holmes Journal editor Roger Johnson, on Sunday 27 November, 2.30pm in the BL Conference Centre. Tickets are £7.50 (£5 concs). Click here for details.
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