Gyles Brandreth writes a mystery series based on the fictional adventures of Oscar Wilde and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders is the fifth book in the series.
Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders opens in 1892, as an exhausted Arthur Conan Doyle retires to a spa in Germany with a suitcase full of fan mail. But his rest cure does not go as planned. The first person he encounters is Oscar Wilde, and the two friends make a series of macabre discoveries among the letters—a finger; a lock of hair; and, finally, an entire severed hand.
The trail leads the intrepid duo to Rome, and to a case that involves miracles as well as murder. Pope Pius IX has just died—these are uncertain times in the Eternal City. To uncover the mystery and discover why the creator of Sherlock Holmes has been summoned in this way, Wilde and Conan Doyle must penetrate the innermost circle of the Catholic Church and expose the deadly secrets of the six men closest to the pope.
Barrie’s formed a cricket team, the Allah-Akabarries. Some of Barrie’s teammates included, Conan Dolye, H. G. Wells, Jerome K. Jerome, P. G. Wodehouse, A. E. W. Mason, E. V. Lucas, E. W. Hornung, Maurice Hewlett, A. A. Milne (of Winnie the Pooh fame) and G. K. Chesterton.
As you may know, I’m also the publisher of a website on the life and work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. There’s a lot about Conan Doyle that’s not commonly known. For example, Conan Doyle was a doctor. When he’d completed his third year of medical studies he signed up for he adventure of a lifetime. He signed on as the ship’s surgeon of a whaling vessel, the Hope. You can read more about this at the Chronicles of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Conan Doyle’s time in the Arctic provided powerful fuel for his growing ambitions as a writer. With a ghost story set in the Arctic wastes that he wrote shortly after his return, he established himself as a promising young writer. A subsequent magazine article laying out possible routes to the North Pole won him the respect of Arctic explorers. And he would call upon his shipboard experiences many times in the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, who was introduced in 1887’s A Study in Scarlet.
Out of sight for more than a century was a diary that Conan Doyle kept while aboard the whaler. Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure makes this account available for the first time in a beautiful facsimile edition that reproduces Conan Doyle’s notebook pages in his own elegant hand, accompanied by his copious illustrations. With humor and grace, Conan Doyle provides a vivid account of a long-vanished way of life at sea. His careful detailing of the experience of arctic whaling is equal parts fascinating and alarming, revealing the dark workings of the later days of the British whaling industry. In addition to the facsimile and annotated transcript of the diary, the volume contains photographs of the Hope, its captain, and a young Conan Doyle on deck with its officers; two nonfiction pieces by Doyle about his experiences; and two of his tales inspired by the journey.
What do Charles Dickens, Algernon Blackwood, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and W.B.Yeats all have in common? They were members of The Ghost Club.
The Ghost Club is the oldest organization in the world associated with research of psychic events and issues. The group was founded in 1862 and exists today. Their website states:
Today the Ghost Club is a non-profit, social club run by an elected Council of volunteers and its purpose remains true to its roots; the Ghost Club offers open-minded, curious individuals the opportunity to debate, explore and investigate unexplained phenomena with like-minded people and record the results for posterity.
It was an ideal spring day, a light blue sky, flecked with little fleecy white clouds drifting across from west to east. The sun was shining very brightly, and yet there was an exhilarating nip in the air, which set an edge to a man’s energy. ~ The Adventure of the Copper Beeches by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
No doubt noticing the popularity of the Sherlock Holmes movies and the BBC’s Sherlock, CBS is planing to launch a TV show based on the Sherlock Holmes stories. It’s early days, but some details have been announced.
The tentative title of the show is Elementary.
Jonny Lee Miller (Trainspotting, Dexter) will be playing the role of Sherlock Holmes.
Lucy Liu (Ally McBeal, Charlie’s Angels) will be playing the role of Dr. Joan Watson.
In 1912 there was an announcement that rocked the scientific world. The remains of an early form of man had been found in the British village of Piltdown. It was exciting because Piltdown Man was much different from his Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal cousins. He had an enormous brain. A large tool that looked kind of like a cricket bat was found near the skull fragments. Piltdown Man was certainly one of a kind.
It turns out that the reason Piltdown Man was so different is because the artifacts were forged.
In 1953 it was proven that the artifacts were actually the skull of a modern human and the jawbone of an orangutan or chimpanzee. Now only one mystery remains. Who perpetrated the hoax?
It seems likely that Charles Dawson, the man who first found the remains, was in on the scheme. Dawson, nicknamed the Wizard of Sussex, was famous for his archeological finds. However Dawson’s discoveries have not stood the test of time.
Dr Miles Russell of Bournemouth University studied Dawson’s collection. In 2003 Russell declared that at least 38 specimens were fakes. He further stated that Dawson’s career was “built upon deceit, sleight of hand, fraud and deception, the ultimate gain being international recognition”
But did Dawson act alone? Sir Arhtur Conan Doyle has always been suspected of assisting Dawson. As a doctor Conan Doyle had the means to create the forged artifacts. As a Spiritualist he may have also had the motive to take a jab at the scientific community.
In a few weeks British researchers are going to study the remains of Piltdown Man. Their objective will be to find out everything they can about the artifacts and hopefully discover who took part in the fraud.