[I RATHER FELT IT
WAS MY DUTY]
Back in England, the Conan Doyles settled into a quietly happy life at their new home, [Undershaw,] in 1897. Now, for the first time, Conan Doyle found himself considering a return to Sherlock Holmes. He started a play featuring the detective, but was unable to complete it satisfactorily. The great actor-manager Beerbohm Tree expressed interest, but he wanted the character of Holmes revised to suit his own acting style better. Despite repeated claims that he did not care about Holmes, Conan Doyle was unwilling to distort the character. [Rather than re-write it on lines which would make a different Holmes from my Holmes, I would without the slightest pang put it back in the drawer,] he decided.
However, he did not care what other people did. A few years later, when the American actor William Gillette asked for permission to rewrite the play, he consented. Gillette, not sure how far he was allowed to go with revisions, sent a cable asking: MAY I MARRY HOLMES? Conan Doyle replied: YOU MAY MARRY HIM OR MURDER HIM OR DO ANYTHING YOU LIKE WITH HIM. And so Holmes first appeared on stage in the United States, with enormous success, and ended the