Arthur Conan Doyle: Beyond Baker Street

By Janet B. Pascal | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
CONAN DOYLE,
SPORTSMAN

Conan Doyle was not in England to be witness to the public's grief over Sherlock Holmes's death, and he would have been in no mood to sympathize with it in any case, for he was dealing with tragedies of his own. In October 1893, his father died. Shortly after, he began to suspect that his wife Touie, who had been sick ever since their return from Switzerland, was suffering from more than a passing illness. An examination confirmed that she had tuberculosis (or consumption, as it was called at the time), and the doctors gave her only a few months to live. There was still no known cure for tuberculosis—Conan Doyle had confirmed this himself on his trip to Germany three years earlier—but like a true knight he was determined to battle for his wife's life as long as possible. [We must take what Fate sends,] he wrote to his mother, [but I have hopes that all may yet be well.] The only response to tuberculosis that was known to make any difference was moving to a more healthful climate. Conan Doyle was not happy at the idea of spending the forseeable future in resorts abroad, but his chivalrous nature made it natural for him to devote himself to Touie. (In her usual gentle and self-effacing way, she left the deci-

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