Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (22nd of May 1859 -7 July 1930)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a Scottish doctor, physician, writer and novelist. He is mostly known being the author of the famous Sherlock Holmes stories.
Arthur Conan Doyle studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh. He worked as a doctor on the Greenland whaler Hope of Peterhead.
In 1882 he tried to set up a practice with one of his classmates in Plymouth, but for him something just didn’t feel right. For this reason he left the practice and tried to work independently. Arthur Conan Doyle went to Portsmouth with less than 10 GBP ( 900 GBP today) and started his own practice in Southsea. However his venture was very successful and while he was waiting for patients, he started to write stories.
Most of the people don´t know that Arthur Conan Doyle was a convinced Spiritualist. Within the Spiritualist Movement, he was called “St. Paul” of modern Spiritualism. He was one of the greatest propagandist of Spiritualism and traveled all over the world to support the movement and spread the word.
First contact with Spiritualism
He had his first contact with Spiritualism in 1886. When he read a book, which was written by the US High Courts Judge John Worth Edmonds (1816 – 1874), one of the most influential early American Spiritualists. Not long afterwards he lost his brother, two brothers-in-law and his two nephews during the first World War, he sank into a deep depression. Suddenly a turning of events occurred, when one of his patients invited him to a Séance. During this Séance Arthur Conan Doyle experienced paranormal phenomena and also received a message from his brother, whom he just lost during the war.
Astonished and confused he left the Séance and this day should change the life of Arthur Conan Doyle forever. He was convinced, that this event was not just caused by coincidence. Moreover the must be a truth lying behind all of this and he was ready to find it. Therefore he became an investigator of Spiritualism and the Supernatural Phenomena.
Society for Psychical Research (SPR)
Later on he joined the Society of Psychical Research (SPR) in 1893. Together with many other scientist, philosophers and naturalists like Sir Oliver Lodge, Henry Sidgwick, Edmund Dawson Rodgers, William James, Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Findlay, Fredric William Henry Myers, William Fletcher Barrett and Edmund Gurney. All of those men have been curious about psychical phenomena. Furthermore they were well-educated, at the same time they were about paranormal phenomena. Together they wanted wanted to lift the veil behind and all of them were logical thinkers and not drawn to any superficial belief.
Of course these men had their disputes while investigating the truth. The truth can only be experienced with an open mind and through own experience. Therefore, when Arthur Conan Doyle made his own experiences with Spiritualism he resigned from the Society of Psychical Research (still exists today). Of course he had many critics who said, that his newly faith was just through his bereavement he suffered during the war. That is easy to say, if you have never experienced a séance or message from a loved one.
Arthur Conan Doyle said:
“There are obvious difficulties in the way of collective investigations – difficulties which are so grave that they are almost insurmountable. When a Crookes or a Lombroso explores the subject he either sits alone with the medium, or he has with him others whose knowledge of psychic conditions and laws may helpful in the matter. This is not usually so with these committees. They fail to understand that they are themselves part of experiment, and that it is possible for them to create such intolerable vibrations, and to surround themselves with so negative an atmosphere, that these outside forces, which are governed by very definite laws are unable to penetrate it. It is not vain that the three words “with one accord” are interpolated into the account of the apostolic sitting in the upper room. If a small piece of metal may upset a whole magnetic installation, so a strong adverse psychic current may ruin a psychic circle.” – A.C.Doyle History of Spiritualism – p. 317
Especially the book of Fredric Myers “Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death” had a huge impression upon Arthur Conan Doyle. This book once more led him to deep insights about the subject of life after death and the spiritual nature of mankind.
Arthur Conan Doyle has always been a logical thinker and survival after death was something which he thought could never be proved. Only through his own experience he changed his mind. To receive evidence during a séance from a medium, he was sure, that there must be something more, than the logical mind could ever imagine. His curious mind lead him to further territory and he devoted his last 30 years to the Research and Investigation of Spiritualist Phenomena and held lectures on this subject all over the world.
Further work & books
Arthur Conan Doyle was President of the International Spiritualist Federation (still exists today) from 1925 to 1930. After his death, his wife Lady Conan Doyle took his place and has been President from 1931 – 1940.
In Scotland there is also the Arthur Conan Doyle Centre which you can visit.
He wrote a lot of important books about Spiritualism such as:
The History of Spiritualism 1926
The New Revelation 1918
The Vital Message 1919
Wanderings of a Spiritualist 1921
The Coming of Fairies 1922
The Case of Spiritualist Photography 1924
The Edge of the Unknown 1930
The Land of Mist 1926
Pheneas Speaks 1927
Our African Winter 1929
Memories and Adventures 1924
Our American Adventure 1923
Our Second American Adventure 1923
Spiritualist Readers 1924