Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and St. George, the Angel of Mons

I want to introduce some of the historical figures who play a prominent role in the novel.

Though many know of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s  Sherlock Holmes stories and characters, few know of his importance in the world of spiritualism. In fact, the two interests seem to be at odds with one another. The Holmes stories giving evidence of an author who is skilled in reason and the material world. Spiritualism, the belief that the soul survives bodily death, represents a view that goes far beyond the material.

Many Conan Doyle biographies recount a crucial event in his life that represents a turning point. The event is directly connected to the battle at Mons, Belgium on 23 August, 1914, the very battle at which the angel St. George and his horde of angel warriors fight for the British. I picked the salient at Nimy Bridge as the location for my soldier-characters. As it happened, Conan Doyle’s brother in-law, Captain Malcolm Leckie, was in fact the medical officer for the company they belong to.

The facts: Captain Leckie was struck by shrapnel at the battle and died six days later. That day, 29 August, Leckie died of his wounds. That night at the Doyle home, a friend was practicing “automatic writing.” She wrote a message from Captain Leckie in which he reported that he was now “on the other side”, meaning that he was dead in body though alive in soul or spirit. At that time no one in the Doyle family knew of the death. This revelation profoundly changed Doyle’s life.

Thus, I discovered that Conan Doyle was perfectly suited to be a major character in St. George, the Angel of Mons. Conan Doyle appears in several chapters. (While most of the events in the novel take place in Belgium and France, several take place in England.)

Have you encountered this facet of Conan Doyle’s life? What do you suppose the effect of the event I described had on his beliefs, writing, and lecturing? Can you foresee how the novel will tie the message he received to the Angel of Mons? What genre of story-telling would you place such a tale in? I am eager to hear (read) from you.

Note: I prefer the word “glob” to “blog”. Using the same letters, my choice is for the word that describes a group of ideas, a glob.