Chosen by Margalit Fox
Margalit Fox’s Conan Doyle for the Defense recounts how the creator of Sherlock Holmes once poured his talents into trying to exonerate a Jewish immigrant convicted of murder. Below, the New York Times senior writer shares other Conan Doyle finds.
Memories and Adventures by Arthur Conan Doyle (Cambridge Scholars, $10). In his 1924 autobiography, Conan Doyle recounted his impoverished upbringing, his medical career, his feats of derring-do on a whaling ship, and, of course, his creation of Sherlock Holmes. It’s one of a string of delightful but little-known volumes by Conan Doyle that I discovered while researching my book. Many, including the next four, are available in the public domain online.
The Stark Munro Letters (Palala, $19). Written in the form of a series of letters by a young doctor named J. Stark Munro, this autobiographical 1895 novel chronicles the narrator’s attempts to establish a medical practice and his dealings with a brilliant, eccentric professional partner—struggles that had been Conan Doyle’s own.
Round the Red Lamp and Other Medical Writings (Valancourt, $20). Round the Red Lamp comprises 15 short stories about what Conan Doyle called the “facts and fancies” of medical life. Touching on childbirth, prostitution, venereal disease, and other such topics, it scandalized reviewers when it first appeared in 1894. Yet as Doyle wrote in the preface, “It is the province of fiction to treat painful things as well as cheerful ones.”
Through the Magic Door (Wildside, $14). In these essays, originally published together in 1907, Conan Doyle rapturously describes the pleasures of reading—an act, he writes, that grants passage into “that fair land whither worry and vexation can follow you no more.”
The Case of Mr. George Edalji (Classic Books, $73). Published in 1907 in London’s Daily Telegraph and The New York Times, this is Conan Doyle’s account of the first major case in which he played real-life detective: the wrongful conviction of an Anglo-Indian lawyer for maiming livestock.
Strange Studies From Life and Other Narratives edited by Jack Tracy (Gaslight, $20). Conan Doyle was as passionately interested in real-life crime as he was in plotting out criminal acts in fiction. This anthology collects his foremost true-crime writings—the studies of three English murder cases that he wrote shortly before starting The Hound of the Baskervilles. ■