“There has never been a time when Conan Doyle has gone out of fashion or interest in him, his ideas and his creations has dropped far off the public radar. But there has certainly never been a time when he has been more keenly appreciated and valued than now.
I have contributed to three documentaries on Doyle and Holmes, two of them in the last year. One of the most successful films of this year was a Sherlock Holmes adaption: a global blockbuster of enormous proportions that is spawning a whole major Hollywood Holmes franchise.
Julian Barnes's Arthur And George was one of the most successful books of the decade. The BBC are planning a huge new series based on an updated Sherlock Holmes. And at this time now …Undershaw is to be retitled Underthreat. Surely we can all see that this is a disastrous mistake?
As Patron of the Conan Doyle library, as a former youngest member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, as an admirer of Doyle and his achievements I urge Waverley Borough Council to reconsider what future ages will adjudge a foolish short-sighted and wanton act of vandalism. There is real value in Undershaw. If it is thought about, it can attract new generations of tourists to the area, it can be an enormous source of local pride. Please, please, have another think.”--Stephen Fry
Photo by Linda Nylind – The Guardian
Sir Christopher Frayling
(ex Chairman of the Arts Council (England); ex rector of the Royal College of Art; currently Professor Emeritus of Cultural History Royal College of Art, and Fellow of Churchill College Cambridge)
“Undershaw was the much-loved home of Arthur Conan Doyle, once he had become an established writer. Many of the books, pamphlets and articles with which he is now so closely associated were penned there, and he developed a deep relationship with the local community around Undershaw as well. Many of the great names in late Victorian and Edwardian literature visited Conan Doyle at Undershaw for meetings, dinners and cricket matches. I have read several of Conan Doyle’s diaries for this period and know just how much time he spent at the house. So it was not a question of “Conan Doyle slept here”.
Undershaw played an important part in his writing life. One of the most celebrated photographs of Conan Doyle – often reproduced – maybe THE photograph of him shows him, legs crossed, sitting in his writing room at Undershaw surrounded by trophies.
So I fully support the campaign – he’d have liked that word – to preserve and list the currently unlisted parts of the building, i.e. the stable and the ‘well’. By association, and in its own right, Undershaw is a significant house”.
A recent article in The Guardian reported that Sir Christopher commented on the recent developments resulting from Waverley Borough Council’s decision to approve the development: “If this was Jane Austen or Charles Dickens, unquestionably this house would have been preserved. Because its Conan Doyle – and detective stories – he is treated as second class in literature. But he wrote some of the best-known stories in English literature”.
"The importance of Undershaw in the literary landscape of Britain can hardly be overestimated. This is where Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 'The Adventures of Gerard', 'Sir Nigel' and 'The Great Boer War'. This was the house he left to become a medical officer in the South African conflict. This was his home when he became Sir Arthur. This is where Sherlock Holmes was reborn. The fact that Conan Doyle worked with the architect J H Ball in designing the house gives it a rare and precious personal quality. To adapt a sentiment from the websitewww.scottsabbotsford.co.uk/, dedicated to the home of an author whom Conan Doyle deeply admired, 'When you touch the bricks and mortar of Undershaw you are touching the soul of Arthur Conan Doyle." Roger Johnson Editor: The Sherlock Holmes Journal The Sherlock Holmes Society of London www.sherlock-holmes.org.uk
”Apart from Thomas Hardy’s house, Undershaw is the only writer’s house in England in which the writer played a major part in the design. Given Doyle’s enduring popularity it would be not just a shame, but a disgrace if it were now to be lost to development”.--Julian Barnes
“Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of one of Britain’s greatest literary icons, deserves better than this. I hope the members of Waverley Borough Council will see sense and recognise the importance of preserving this historic house.”--Anthony Horowitz
Anthony Horowitz is a TV screen-writer and is the creator and writer of ‘Foyle’s War’, ‘Midsomer Murders’ and ‘Collison’, as well as adapting many of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot novels for the ITV series. He was awarded a BAFTA for ‘Foyle’s War’ and Foyle was voted ‘The People’s Detective’ in the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards, an award voted for by viewers. He also has a five-part drama series, "Injustice." Anthony Horowitz is the author of a string of bestselling children’s books, including the Alex Rider, The Power of Five and The Diamond Brother series, as well as the novel approved by the Conan Doyle estate, The House of Silk.
Please listen to the podcast below of The Baker Street Babes and Mr. Horowitz.
"Firstly it is not a book about Undershaw per se. Instead, the book looks at Conan Doyle’s life both locally and nationally during the period that he resided in his Hindhead home (1897 – 1907). In many respects I use the house as a chronological anchor more than anything else. You can expect events described that took place away from Undershaw as well as those that took place within it.
The decade that Conan Doyle resided in Hindhead was an eventful one both professionally and personally. He lost his first wife to tuberculosis and married his second. He resurrected Sherlock Holmes and saw the first serious stage dramatisation of his famous creation. He also stood twice for parliament and spoke out both in person and through the press on a variety of local and national issues.
Inevitably, with a man as written about as Conan Doyle, you will find things in my book that you have read elsewhere. This problem has affected all his biographers since Hesketh Pearson who wrote the earliest (that I know of) in the 1940s. However, I have done my best to present these facts from a different perspective and have thrown in a few new ones where I have been able to unearth them. I also indulge myself in a little speculation here and there about how events in Conan Doyle’s life affected his writing and vice versa."--Alistair Duncan
The Trust would like to thank Alistair Duncan for his offer to donate 50% of net royalties to the campaign to save Undershaw.
The Baker Street Blog
The "definitive site for news and information about Sherlock Holmes in popular culture," The Baker Street Blog has been a vocal and loyal supporter of the Save Undershaw campaign for more than four years. Please visit them here: www.bakerstreetblog.com/
The Baker Street Babes
The brilliant and talented Baker Street Babes are staunch and vocal supporters of The Undershaw Preservation Trust. Babe Kristina is our London UPT Ambassador. Babes Maria, Amy, and Katherine are also UPT Ambassadors. Please visit their website and hear their podcasts at:
Robert Lindsay has recently recorded an audiobook for the British Library, The Narrative of John Smith by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Previously unpublished, this is the first novel Conan Doyle ever wrote, when he was just 23. The original was mysteriously lost in the post on its way to a publisher, but Conan Doyle later re-wrote it, although he left it unfinished.
Robert Lindsay on Undershaw: “It is a sad fact that very few places important to the life of Holmes’s creator remain untouched. His former homes have been lost or converted to other uses. Often a plaque has been the only indication that he had a connection to a site at all.
His former Hindhead home, Undershaw, is now the only unoccupied site that could be restored. It has not escaped alteration, having been a hotel for many years, but these are changes that can be reversed. The proposed redevelopment that is threatening the house now would be extremely difficult if not impossible to undo.
Our culture is something we should fight to protect. Whatever your opinion of his work, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is one of the best and most well loved writers these islands have ever produced. His house should be saved in order that future generations will have the opportunity to see where this great writer lived during one of the most productive periods of his life."
Dedicated and very active supporters of The Undershaw Preservation Trust, Sherlockology is "a fansite dedicated to the BBC drama, 'Sherlock'."
"Crime fiction is the biggest genre in the world and its origins can be traced straight back to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, so his contribution to modern literature cannot be underestimated and shouldn't be ignored. Sherlock Holmes brings joy to millions of fans and has proven to endure over many generations. Undershaw represents our last opportunity to create an ongoing legacy for future generations of fans and cement the place of Sherlock Holmes in modern education. As a publisher, we see the joy Holmes' works bring every day. We have a wonderful opportunity here - let's not regret not taking it."
Our beautiful logo was designed by Thomas Ryan Ward, who captured the history and elegance of Undershaw in his design. Many thanks to him for his hard work on our behalf. Please visit his website at: www.thomasryanward.com/