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Conan Doyle’s obsession with the afterlife

by Iain Lundy

HE CREATED the master detective Sherlock Holmes and blessed him with powers of logic and deduction that none of his fictional contemporaries could match. And in many ways Sir Arthur Conan Doyle resembled his greatest character. He was a tall gentlemanly figure and pillar of Victorian society. His medical background allowed him to diagnose patients in the same meticulous manner with which Holmes solved murder cases, and he had a highly intelligent and creative mind.

Yet Conan Doyle, who was born into a wealthy Edinburgh family in the mid-19th century, had another side to his personality which few devotees of his work realise. The author who perfected the art of reasoning and common sense in his detective novels was entranced by spiritualism and the occult.

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