The Doyle diary: The last great Conan Doyle mystery: With a Holmesian investigation into the strange and curious case of Charles Altamont Doyle

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9780448220680: The Doyle diary: The last great Conan Doyle mystery: With a Holmesian investigation into the strange and curious case of Charles Altamont Doyle

"Keep steadily in view that this Book is ascribed wholly to the produce of a MADMAN. Whereabouts would you say was the deficiency of Intellect? Or depraved taste? If in the whole Book you can find a single evidence of either, mark it and record it against me". It is difficult to imagine a more poignant or disturbing opening to the bizarre and hauntingly beautiful sketchbook diary of Charles Altamont Doyle, father of Arthur Conan Doyle. The time of writing was 1889; the place, the dreary confines of "Sunnyside", as Doyle called it, part of the Montrose Royal Lunatic Asylum in Scotland, where the 57-year-old Doyle, epileptic and ailing, was interned - "imprisoned", as he says, "under the most depressing restrictions". Charles Doyle was to spend the rest of his days in asylums, but the question remains - was he actually mad? Readers may now judge the evidence for themselves, for the diary - long forgotten by the family and auctioned off in a job lot of books in 1955 and not discovered for what it was for 20 more years. Reproduced here in its entirety, Doyle's diary is a wondrous blending of words and watercolor, a collage of fact and fancy featuring exquisitely detailed fairies and birds. At its core, however, is a desperately lonely man, feebly clinging to the last threads of life and struggling to maintain his hold on reality by confronting his fantasies and his fears directly through the medium of his art. Who was Charles Doyle? Why have Arthur's biographers had so little to say about him? What were the circumstances of his decline that finally led his family to institutionalize him? What clues, if any does the diary contain. Michael Baker dons his deerstalker and tells how he left no stone unturned in following a highly elusive trail of clues from London to Edinburgh and finally to Sunnyside itself in attempting to unravel "THE STRANGE AND CURIOUS CASE OF CHARLES ALTAMONT

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