Friday, September 24, 2010

A Conan Doyle Quest

Actually, this is a quest I have decided not to pursue... I keep a scrapbook of snippets about books and authors which are entertaining, diverting or potentially profitable: things worthy of a little extra research. I have been going through old issues of the boys magazine Chums recently and this item is from the edition of March 21, 1894.

When Dr. Conan Doyle, the popular writer was a lad of sixteen he was sent to a school in Germany. There were a number of other English boys at this particular establishment, and the future author of "Sherlock Holmes" found an outlet for his budding literary genius in the editing of a little school magazine with the somewhat dangerous motto - "Fear not - and print it." In consequence, however, of a trenchant but somewhat libellous leader from the pen of the fearless young editor, on the injustice of reading boys' letters before they were delivered to the addressees, the publication was vetoed by the collegiate authorities, and expired prematurely.

This is the kind of thing I love. I don't have a Conan Doyle bibliography to hand to see if this piece of juvenalia is known and listed there already. Nor do I have a biography of Conan Doyle to hand to check-out the story and find the German school - but that is where I would start - were I about to take this on as a case for the Callum James Literary Detective Agency and attempt to track down this perhaps unrecognised piece of writing. Unfortunately, a congenital lack of facility with the German language made me think that perhaps this was a case for another.

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