Autograph Letter Initialed to "My dear Smith" A. Conan Doyle.
Autograph Letter Initialed to "My dear Smith".

Autograph Letter Initialed to "My dear Smith".

Two pages, on "Undershaw, Hindhead, Haslemere" stationery. No date, but "Rec'd 10 Mar 1902" is penciled in.

The text of the letter reads:

I will call about quarter to 11 on Tuesday morning if that will not be too early. If you should be a little late I can no doubt get some news from Mr. Howard.

The American Edition is out.

I had a letter from Holtermann complaining that he had had no proofs for 8 days. I therefore sent a stimulating wire to Bloch.

A very excellent German book "Recht und Unrecht im Boerenkrieg" by one Hirtz [sic] published by Dr. Edelheim, Berlin W. has just come into my hands. It is very good & seems cheap. I have written to the publishers to find the price if bought by the hundred. I thought that we might possibly care to send out a few hundred of them, if none have been sent out, for we should make more sure of our bird if we had two barrels. I have asked Angst if he would like a hundred.

Angst wants a recent Edition.

I wish you too would have a dozen copies sent to my brother in South Africa. Capt Hay Doyle, 79th Battery, Harrismith.

I shall be in London from Tuesday till Friday.

Yours ever

ACD. [P.S.] Half a dozen copies sent to the OC [Officers' Club?] at [Doyle lists 13 overseas locations with a British military presence, mostly in South Africa but also Belfast] would be very well spent.

"Smith" was Reginald J. Smith, who in 1899 had become head of the publishing firm Smith, Elder & Co.-- founded two generations earlier by George Smith, in 1816.

The book Doyle initially refers to ("The American edition is out") was his sixpenny propaganda monograph THE WAR IN SOUTH AFRICA: ITS CAUSE AND CONDUCT, with facts distilled from his lengthy 1900 book THE GREAT BOER WAR, but adding Doyle's "apologia" [Pearsall] for some of the British conduct since then -- such as concentration camps and dum-dum bullets. Smith Elder's London edition had come out in mid-January (250,000 copies, plus a second printing of 50,000 more in mid-February), and McClure Phillips's American edition (50,000) came out in March. Profits from the booklet went to a variety of charitable causes; the booklet was partly responsible for the offer of a knighthood, which the author accepted.

"Mr. Howard" was the employee at Smith Elder who arranged the many translations of this book; Green & Gibson cites fifteen such translations, including Russian, Hungarian, Tamil and braille.

The German book which is the focus of much of the letter was (translated) RIGHT AND WRONG IN THE BOER WAR by then-23-year-old Friederich Hertz, published by Edelheim in Berlin in 1902 and which "earned him the thanks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle" [Foreign Affairs, July 1919]. Hertz, who went on to write RACE AND CULTURE in 1904, was an Austrian who was a staunch opponent of German imperialism and militarism -- hence Doyle's appreciation. Though Hertz would serve in the Austro-Hungarian army in the Great War, during the 1930s he would flee first to Vienna and then (in 1938, under attack from the Nazis for his publications on race and nationality) with his family to London -- where in 1946 he would become a British citizen.

One last note: "Captain Hay Doyle," known as "Duff," was Doyle's 14-years-younger brother John Francis Innes Hay Doyle; he survived service in China in 1900 and South Africa in 1902, and would survive the Great War -- only to die in February 1919 in the Spanish Flu epidemic (mere weeks after ACD's son Kingsley, of the same cause).

The letter is in fine condition (just a little light foxing); the use of his initials, rather than full signature, is an indication of how close Doyle and Smith were. Item #13905

Price: $1,950.00

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