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Detective detected: Arthur Conan Doyle’s mistress

April 24, 2014

My working day typically means driving home late; and for me, it is typically a choice of music or radio, and if radio, live or podcasts. I series I follow is Matthew Parris' Radio 4 series Great Lives, in which Matthew, a celebrity and an expert discuss the celebrity's chosen Great Life: last night, Gyles Brandreth chose Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

It was a first rate episode, helped in no small part by Gyles being such a great communicator (arguably the best after dinner speaker I have ever listened to, and he was also a great compère for an awards evening I went to some years back).

Sir Arthur, born 22/5/1889 near Edinburgh trained as a doctor, seemingly because of parental persuasion; he married on 6/8/1885 in Settle, near Carlisle, Louisa Hawkins. Louisa was poorly from early on in the marriage and the discussion explained that Sir Arthur commenced a close relationship with Jean Leckie. Gyles said there was some doubt whether their relationship was platonic until after Louisa died, when Sir Arthur and Jean then married. The expert, Andrew Lycett, Sir Arthur's biographer, explained to Gyles that it had ever appearance of being non platonic, including the key fact that he and Jean were staying at the same hotel on the night of 31st March 1901.

Wikipedia is more cautious:


When not to take your mistress to a hotel

(I suspect if I had made this the title of this blog posting, it would attract more readers: by far and away my most read blog is about wives and blondes)

31/3/1901 was the night of the 1901 census. As a keen genealogist, I subscribe to services which give me access to census records, so here is the record:

They are in the lowest address; in close up:


Case solved. Of course, this is now Sherlock Holmes thriller: writing a story where the reader has to wait 100 years before solving a crime would not be a best seller.

From → Genealogy, General

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