Monday, February 27, 2006

Doyle’s ‘Hound’ Linked to Spiritualism

A new edition of The Hound of the Baskervilles suggests Sherlock Holmes's best-loved case may actually have been more of a journey into the psyche of its author rather than a simple whodunit, reports Yorkshire Today.

Dr Francis O'Gorman from the University of Leeds has just completed a fully annotated version of the Hound, a book first published 105 years ago and loved by millions across the world.

Dr O'Gorman believes Hound, often overlooked by those who dismiss it as nothing more than a quick read, highlights not only Conan Doyle's own developing spiritualism – as a friend of Houdini, he became convinced the American magician possessed supernatural powers – but the whole issue of the other world which was being debated by the public at large.

"Although it is not often considered as such, the novel is a great collection of ideas," adds Dr O'Gorman. "Spiritualism is certainly one of its underground themes and it was of such passionate importance to Conan Doyle.

His involvement in spiritualism became such that he wrote a novel on the subject, The Land of Mist, and The Coming of the Fairies in which he championed the validity of the world-famous Cottingley fairy photographs – one of the reasons why his short stories were banned in 1920s Russia for alleged occultism.

We may regard it as strange today, but he was seriously and thoughtfully immersed in its possibilities."

Francis O'Gorman has written widely on the Victorian period and is best known as an international authority on the work of John Ruskin, the Victorian art and social critic. His annotated version of The Hound of the Baskervilles, published by Broadview, priced £5.99, is available through the Yorkshire Post Bookshop on 0800 0153232 or online at

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