Start: 2:00 pm
End: 4:00 pm
Join us at Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore with a discussion and then signing with two of the
foremost Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Scholars of our times, Jon Lellenberg and Daniel Stashower. Remember, there is a $5/book charge to have any books not purchased at C&S signed by our guest authors. There is no charge to have a book purchased at C&S signed by the authors.
In 1880 a young medical student named Arthur Conan Doyle embarked upon the
“first real outstanding adventure” of his life, taking a berth as ship’s surgeon
on an Arctic whaler, the Hope. The voyage took him to unknown regions,
showered him with dramatic and unexpected experiences, and plunged him into
dangerous work on the ice floes of the Arctic seas. He tested himself, overcame
the hardships, and, as he wrote later, “came of age at 80 degrees north
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.
To the end of his life, Conan Doyle would look back on this experience with
awe: “You stand on the very brink of the unknown,” he declared, “and every duck
that you shoot bears pebbles in its gizzard which come from a land which the
maps know not. It was a strange and fascinating chapter of my life.” Only now
can the legion of Conan Doyle fans read and enjoy that chapter.
Michael Dirda, author of On Conan Doyle
“We revere Arthur Conan Doyle as the creator of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, but he was far more than just the great storyteller of his age: There was a streak of the adventurer in Conan Doyle’s make-up, reflected in his passion for boxing matches, outdoor sports, and war zones. While still a medical student, a very young Arthur shipped out for six months on an Arctic whaler, turning twenty-one just 600 miles from the North Pole. His diary of this ‘dangerous work’ makes irresistible reading, especially when annotated by two of the most knowledgeable Conan Doyle scholars alive. As a supplement, Jon Lellenberg and Daniel Stashower include four magnificent pieces of writing inspired by this youthful adventure: Conan Doyle’s reflections on ‘The Glamour of the Arctic’ and ‘Life on a Greenland Whaler,’ his most haunting ghost story, ‘The Captain of the Polestar,’ and one of the most dramatic of all Sherlock Holmes mysteries, ‘The Adventure of Black Peter.’ This is, in short, an important book for scholars, but also a tremendously exciting one for readers.”
The editors are known for their expertise and scholarship on the works of Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. Daniel Stashower is an award-winning mystery novelist and author of Teller of Tales, a widely praised biography of Conan Doyle. Jon Lellenberg is the U.S. agent for the Conan Doyle estate and author of The Quest for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters.