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The Narrative of John Smith (hardback)

Published Date:
September 2011
British Library Publishing
Bibliographic Details:
Hardback, 144 pages, 195 x 130mm
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
With an introduction by Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower and Rachel Foss
Free UK P&P for orders over £15

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One of Arthur Conan Doyle's lesser known books: Conan Doyle wrote his first novel The Narrative of John Smith in 1883 when he was just 23, living in Portsmouth and struggling to establish himself as a doctor and a writer. This volume has never published before, and it has exceptional value as a window into the mind of the creator of Sherlock Holmes, and many of the themes and tropes of Conan Doyle's later writing can clearly be seen.

Through John Smith, a 50-year-old man confined to his room by an attack of gout, Arthur Conan Doyle sets down his thoughts and opinions on a range of subjects – literature, science, religion, war, politics – making it a novel of considerable biographical importance.

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'... the heart of every lover of British writing will rejoice at this discovery of an early and as yet unpublished work by the creator of Holmes, Watson, Moriarty and Professor Challenger.'Stephen Fry
`Highly autobiographical, the result is fascinating...`
Michael Dirda, New York Review of Books blog
`... give[s] devotees of Doyle's more mature work a unique insight into his 'apprentice period.``
T.A.L., Contemporary Review
`... the text has a somewhat autobiographical feel to it as the author reflects on topics such as religion, medicine, literature, Empire and Nation, interior design other matters of the day, often as internal monologues.... The real value of this book, however, is in the extensive notes by editors Lellenberg, Stashower and Foss. Seventeen pages long, they provide detailed explanations to the text, and show how ideas and concepts can later be found in Conan Doyle's published works.`
Dominique Wilson, Wet Ink Issue 26
`... you may find much to enjoy in these ‘rambling notes of a week’s indisposition’, related with elegance and spiked with wit.`
Brian McFarlane, Australian Book Review

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