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Holmes creator's papers go on the block
Christie's to auction personal effects from late Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle.
March 16, 2004: 2:18 PM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Christie's will auction over 3,000 personal documents, including letters and hand-written manuscripts, left behind by Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The sale of the once-lost papers is expected to garner about 2 million or $3.6 million.

"The whereabouts of this material was previously unknown and it is for this reason that no modern day biography of the author exists," said Christie's Manuscript Consultant Jane Flower.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sherlock Holmes

A series of legal tussles following the deaths of Conan Doyle's sons Adrian and Denis resulted in the papers being filed away and forgotten for some 40 years before their discovery in a London law office. Conan Doyle's widow Jean willed the papers to her sons following her death in the early 1940s.

Among the more notable items to be auctioned are letters the author received from admirers including Winston Churchill, Oscar Wilde, and Bernard Shaw and a trio of journals known as the Southsea Notebooks. Individual estimates for the letters range from 1,000 to 10,000. (One British pound is equivalent to about $1.81.)

Named for the English town where Conan Doyle once worked, the Southsea Notebooks contain a sketch for the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes in the Conan Doyle's first novel, "A Study in Scarlet," and are expected to fetch between 100,000 to 150,000.

Some of the others items are more personal, including the name-plate Conan Doyle used outside of his medical practice in Southsea (estimate: 30,000 to 50,000) and a gold medal engraved "To the best of nurses" the writer presented to his wife (estimate: 800 to 1,200).

Conan Doyle wrote approximately 56 short stories and four novels featuring detective Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson beginning with "A Study in Scarlet," published in 1887.

The auction takes place on May 19 in London. A preview is scheduled for March 29 to April 1 at Rockefeller Center in New York.  Top of page

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