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Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Crossover: Christie and Conan Doyle

We may not think about it much, but the careers of Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle overlapped significantly. By the time the Canon closed out in 1927, Christie had published eight books, including the classic Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

Christie mentions Sherlock Holmes (“the one and only—I should never be able to emulate him”) in her autobiography when describing her creation of Hercule Poirot. And when Christie disappeared in 1926, ACD was one of those quoted in press accounts speculating on her fate.

It was no big surprise, therefore, that in recently reading Dame Agatha’s 1931 uninspiringly named novel The Sittaford Mystery it was easy to spot echoes of The Hound of the Baskervilles. The story takes place Dartmoor, with a Tor and moorland, and there is an escaped convict.

There’s also a séance (like the Rathbone Hound later, but that was a coincidence). And in Chapter 11, journalist Charles Enderly says of the table-turning event: “I’m thinking of writing that up for the paper. Get opinions from Sir Oliver Lodge and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and a few actresses and people about it.”

 ACD died in 1930, the year before the book was published, so probably the story took place slightly earlier. Or perhaps Enderly had in mind another séance. 

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