Saturday, August 07, 2004

Conan Doyle Collection Handed to City

PORTSMOUTH, England (AP) - One of the world's greatest collections of memorabilia from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was handed over Friday to a library in the port city where this classic author once had a medical practice and wrote the first two Sherlock Holmes adventures.

When he died in March, writer and collector Richard Lancelyn Green, left the 20,000-item collection worth more than $3.6 million to the Porsmouth library service.

The collection includes a full size recreation by Lancelyn Green of the study at 221B Baker Street, Holmes' fictional London address.

It also contains a small medical book by a Doctor Sherlock which is believed to have been the inspiration for the name of Conan Doyle's detective.

And there is a copy of the Beeton's Christmas Annual in which the first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet appeared, as well as first editions of every publication of Conan Doyle's work.

"Richard was the foremost Arthur Conan Doyle scholar and a leading Sherlock Holmes specialist. His collection was acknowledged to be the finest in private hands," said Nicholas Utechin, Lancelyn Green's friend and editor of the "Sherlock Holmes Journal."

"It's wonderful that Portsmouth has agreed to be the custodian of these thousands of volumes and make them publicly available to literary researchers."

Lancelyn Green was a prominent figure in the Sherlock Holmes Society and spent more than 40 years collecting material related to Conan Doyle and Holmes. His will stipulated that the literature collection should be housed together and that he wanted it offered first to Portsmouth's library service.

The classic collection will eventually be housed in the city's Central Library.

Born in Edinburgh, where he studied medicine, Conan Doyle moved later to Portsmouth and then London. While in Portsmouth, he wrote "A Study in Scarlet" (1887) which introduced the super-observant Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson.

For further details about the creator of the most famous fictional detective see Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Biography at the Classic Literature Library.