One page, dated by Doyle "Sept 21 / 94" on stationery on which he wrote "Reform Club."
The text of this letter reads:
Among the pleasures which I hope for in the New World is that of making your acquaintance. I trust that my way (which depends upon my agent) may lie in your direction. I think your Oliver is a fine book, and it has certainly taught me much -- your detail is so very good.
With my hearty regards
Yours very truly
A Conan Doyle
Written from the private confines of The Reform Club on Pall Mall, Doyle wrote this letter just two days before departing, on the ship Elbe, with his brother Innes for a lecture tour of North America (2 October to 8 December); this trip had been arranged by his "agent" (referred to in the letter), "Major" James B. Pond. The previous December (February in the U.S.), Doyle's MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES had been published -- which with the ADVENTURES from a year earlier, had established his reputation as a writer (albeit not the sort of writer he strove to be). Clearly, in this letter he is responding to a letter from a Mr. Church who had expressed the hope that the two would meet on Doyle's trip to the "New World."
Samuel Harden Church (1858-1943) had been born in a one-room log cabin in Missouri, gone to work as a boy after his father died, and ultimately rose to become a major mover in the city of Pittsburgh -- "assistant secretary of the Pennsylvania [RR] lines west of Pittsburgh, vice-president of the Union Steel Casting Company, secretary of the Carnegie Institute, and author of a Life of Oliver Cromwell, which places him, as an American historical writer, in the same rank with Irving, Prescott and Motley" [Eddleman]. That biography had just been published earlier in 1894; The Spectator, in London, said of the book, "It is not disparaging any other fame to say that Church's 'Life of Cromwell' is the greatest book ever written by an American author" [!].
Doyle's 1894 itinerary included about 30 cities (from Boston west to Chicago, and from Washington north to Toronto), but did not include Pittsburgh; the following year Church likewise made a lecture tour of Scotland and England -- but we do not know whether Doyle and Church ever met.
The letter is in fine condition, with one fold and a couple of tiny pin-holes at the top. Item #14063