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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 February 2010

Douglas Kerr*
University of Hong Kong


In the last years of the nineteenth century, Arthur Conan Doyle, a prolific writer with a global reputation and readership, was settled with his family at Hindhead in Surrey. In his Memories and Adventures (M&A) he was to recall this period as an interlude of peace: “The country was lovely. My life was filled with alternate work and sport. As with me so with the nation” (151). This last sentence refers chiefly to the apparent placidity of the time, soon to be rudely spoilt by the outbreak of the South African war, which was to prove a critical and formative testing-ground for Great Britain and for Conan Doyle personally. But the sentence can also refer to the plenitude of a life divided between work and sport, and I will argue that Conan Doyle would be right to claim his experience here as representative of the national life. At the end of the century which invented modern sport, Conan Doyle's enthusiastic participation in sports, his writing about the subject, and his understanding of sporting culture have a great deal to tell us about Victorian Britain. As with him, so with the nation.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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