Married Arthur Conan Doyle’s scandalous affair with younger lover revealed

November 14th, 2007 - 10:17 am ICT by admin  
Doyle’s first biographer John Dickson Carr revealed in 1949 that the author and his second wife Jean’s friendship preceded their marriage by a whole decade when they tied the knot in 1907.

Since then, scholars have always wanted to know whether the relationship remained platonic as Doyle insisted, or whether the couple had been intimate.

Now, a new book of his hitherto unpublished letters strongly - Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life In Letters - suggests not only did Doyle and Jean have a physical relationship, but that his mother Mary knew about and even supported it.

Doyle’s relationship with Jean Leckie first started in 1897, at the age of 38, when he was still married to Louisa ‘Touie’ Hawkins, who was suffering from tuberculosis.

Though at first he kept the relationship a secret from his mother, the book shows how he used any excuse to include Jean’s name on the page. In a letter written in 1899, Doyle tells his mother how he had had lunch with Jean and her parents, who gave him an exquisite Christmas present of a diamond and pearl stud.

At this point of time he also wrote a tome about a man, a mistress and a wife called The Duet.

By June that year, Doyle was no longer keeping the relationship a secret, and was telling his mother all about it, though assuring her that he would not cause his wife any pain.

According to the Daily Mail, his letters also suggest that Doyle and Jean’s love affair was more than platonic. In one he writes of his wife: “She is as dear to me as ever but there is a large side of my life which was unoccupied, but is no longer so.”

The correspondence between Mary Doyle and her son also shows how though she was critical of his and Jean’s relationship at first, she soon came to support it, even chaperoning Jean when the author took golfing breaks.

The letters also seem to suggest that Doyle’s wife Touie had caught on to the affair as in them Doyle complained to Mary that his wife had dropped plans to go to France for her health as usual, and was insisting on going to Torquay, where he’d have to join her.

In one letter he writes to his mother about the couple’s love: “It is a fateful, heaven sent thing and inspirational.”

Mary, for her part, had already accepted Jean into the family, sending her gifts of family jewellery, and not reproaching Doyle when he spent more time away from home with his “darling J” as Touie’s health declined.

Touie passed away in 1906, and after a year of mourning, Doyle married Jean.

On the couple’s honeymoon, he tells his mother in a letter how he was more and more in love with his beautiful, intelligent bride.

The letters are compiled in Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life In Letters, edited by Daniel Stashower, Jon Lellenberg and Charles Foley. (ANI)

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