Monday, April 7, 2014

Out of the Shadows: The Untold Story of Arthur Conan Doyle's First Family by Georgina Doyle

Hello Bookworms!,

          I’ve recently finished reading a lovely book about the first family of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes Stories, the Brigadier Gerard Stories, The White Company, and so much more.



          There have been many skewed biographies of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his family, and his career. Over the years many myths have been taken and fact, and many facts and been believed to be myths. Arthur’s first family, His wife Louise Hawkins, and their two children Mary and Kingsley Conan Doyle, were, for a time, all but erased from the history of the family…Until now. Family member Georgina Doyle (Daughter-in-law of Arthur Conan Doyle’s baby brother Innes Hay Doyle) has spent years compiling the facts and has published Out of the Shadows: The Untold Story of Arthur Conan Doyle’s First Family setting the record straight for the first time in years.



          Out of the Shadows has been a joy to read. I’ll start out by saying that I highly recommend it to all who will read it. Why do I love it so much? I’m so glad you asked ;-) .

          The first pleasant surprise was the author of the forward. In looking for a book about what happened to Mary and Kingsley Conan Doyle, I reached out to author Alistair Duncan (author of Close to Holmes, Eliminate the Impossible, and An Entirely New Country). Alistair put me into contact with Doug Wrigglesworth from whom, after several pleasant online interactions, I bought my copy of Out of the Shadows.  As soon as I opened the book, I found that the forward was written by none other than, Douglass Wrigglesworth, whom I may add did a lovely job and I suggest that you take the time to read the short forward at the beginning of the book.

          Next was the lovely prologue by Georgina Doyle in which she explains her reasons for doing the book. For me this section (only about a page and a half long) really set the tone for the rest of the biography. You really get a sense of Georgina’s lovely character and her intention not to hurt anyone, but to help everyone understand the whole story of the Conan Doyle family as it actually happened. She evens mentions that the time of publication ( © 2004)  was best because now anyone who might be hurt by the truth had passed on, which I found extremely thoughtful.

          The book gives the history of the Doyle and Hawkins side of the family and then goes into how Louise and Arthur met and married and subsequently had children, Mary and Kingsley. It continues all the way to Mary Conan Doyle’s golden years detailing the life of her and her family from family documents, first and second-hand accounts from family members, and even statements from Mary Conan Doyle herself.

          I found it beautiful to read Mary’s own words. I loved getting to hear her story from her perspective in many places. I also loved Georgina Doyle’s writing. She had an easy style that makes it easy to read. It reminded me a lot of movies that have a person telling a story in conversation and then slowly slips into a flashback. That’s how it feels reading Mrs. Doyle’s writing. It was wonderful. I found myself becoming so attached to the family members through Georgina’s writing that I began to grieve each time a family member died, especially at the deaths of Louise Hawkins “Touie” Doyle, Kingsley Conan Doyle, and Innes Hay Doyle.

          I really enjoyed the book. It was easy to read, enjoyable, plus there were pictures and several discrepancies from earlier biographies set straight. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the family of Arthur Conan Doyle. This is easily the most reliable book in existence. It is hard to find a copy now, but if you can find one, borrow one from a friend, or check one out at the library, it is well worth it!

A special thanks to Alistair Duncan and Doug Wrigglesworth for helping me in obtaining a copy of Out of the Shadows.
Normally, I would post a link where you can buy Out of the Shadows. However, it is hard to find now. I was not able to find a link to an online seller so if you know where readers can get a copy of the book, please feel free to post it in the comments or let me know at @LovelyLizzie10 on Twitter and I'll add it here.

Until next time,

                   Lizzie <3

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I found this book to be phenomenally partisan, the author clearly had it in big-time for Jean Leckie and her children and relied mostly on one source beyond Mary's letters, her late husband who was only a teenager when ACD died and never knew his first wife at all. Some of the speculation about people's motives and characters is unjustified unless the primary motive is getting people to take the side you want them to take.

When I got to the "Louise was beautiful... but Jean just wasn't" statements it killed it for me. We do have photographs. Louise was obviously a lovely person (and Mary comes across likewise) but this sort of statement stretches credulity beyond what it can bear. It's not even necessary.