Arthur Conan Doyle

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Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle KGStJ, DL (May 22, 1859 – July 7, 1930) was a British physician and writer who is most noted for his fictional stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, which are generally considered milestones in the field of crime fiction. He was also interested in Spiritualism and Theosophy.


Theosophical interest

In an autobiographical book, Doyle stated his interest in Theosophy as follows:

I was deeply interested and attracted for a year or two by Theosophy, because while Spiritualism seemed at that time to be chaos so far as philosophy went, Theosophy presented a very well thought-out and reasonable scheme, parts of which, notably reincarnation and Kharma, seemed to offer an explanation for some of the anomalies of life. I read Sinnett's "Occult World" and afterwards with even greater admiration I read his fine exposition of Theosophy in "Esoteric Buddhism," a most notable book. I also met him, for he was an old friend of General Drayson's, and I was impressed by his conversation.[1]

However, the accusations made by the Hodgson Report against Mme. Blavatsky and the contended letters from Vsevolod S. Solovyov shook his confidence in Theosophy. He added:

Shortly afterwards, however, there appeared Dr. Hodgson's report upon his investigation into Madame Blavatsky's proceedings at Adyar, which shook my confidence very much. It is true that Mrs. Besant has since then published a powerful defence which tends to show that Hodgson may have been deceived, but the subsequent book, "A Priestess of Isis," which contains many of her own letters, leaves an unpleasant impression, and Sinnett's posthumous work seems to show that he also had lost confidence. On the other hand, Colonel Olcott shows that the woman undoubtedly had real psychic powers, whatever their source. As to Spiritualism, it seems to have only interested her in its lower phenomenal aspect. Her books show extraordinary erudition and capacity for hard work, even if they represent the transfer of other people's conclusions, as they frequently do. It would be unjust, however, to condemn the old wisdom simply because it was introduced by this extraordinary and volcanic person. We have also had in our branch of the occult many dishonest mediums, but we have hastened to unveil them where we could do so, and Theosophy will be in a stronger position when it shakes off Madame Blavatsky altogether. In any case it could never have met my needs for I ask for severe proof, and if I have to go back to unquestioning faith I should find myself in the fold from which I wandered.[2]

The Cottingley Fairies

Online resources


  1. Arthur Conan Doyle, Memories and Adventures, (Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions, 2007), 73.
  2. Arthur Conan Doyle, Memories and Adventures, (Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions, 2007), 73-74.