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Conan DoyleWriting, Profession, and Practice$
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Douglas Kerr

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199674947

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199674947.001.0001

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(p.201) 7 Spirit
Conan Doyle

Douglas Kerr

Oxford University Press

His Spiritualist beliefs, which his writing put into practice, compromised the high reputation Conan Doyle had achieved before the First World War. This chapter asks why he espoused them. He had soon turned away from the Church, but was active in psychical research of many kinds and gradually became convinced that the truths of Spiritualism were scientifically proved. The Land of Mist is his Spiritualist condition-of-England novel. Spiritualism was the great saving antidote to the modern poison of materialism, he believed. His notorious endorsement of the Cottingley Fairies photographs is discussed in these terms, the photos being a token, for him, of a spiritual and innocent England capable of redeeming the nation mired in materialism, selfishness and war. His last decade was spent in stubborn advocacy and practice, in print and in person, at home and around the world, of the Spiritualist vision.

Keywords:   spiritualism, society for psychical research, telepathy, fairies, englishness, theosophy, séances, afterlife

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