When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle opened a psychic bookstore

In the early hours of February 6, 1928, there was considerable confusion among police officers peeping in The Psychic bookstore in London. The drawers were looted. There was a burglary.

What’s more, someone has misappropriated the pride and joy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the famous British creator of Sherlock Holmes. Instead of focusing on crime fiction, his bookstore focuses on spiritual mysteries. The author firmly believes in the unexplainable and mysterious, insisting that it is possible to communicate with the dead. His convictions were so strong that he spent some of his wealth and time in his later years creating his spiritual bookstore, which he once declared was his most important mission — despite his apparent lack of foresight to foresee the theft.

Sherlock Holmes may be the ultimate pragmatist in fiction. The protagonists of 56 short stories and 4 novels use logic and searing perception to decipher seemingly unsolvable crimes. However, when it comes to his fascination with spiritualism, his creator happily dismisses reason and reason.

Arthur Conan Doyle was born on May 22, 1859, into a poor and sometimes unstable family in Edinburgh, Scotland. He eventually earned his MD, and after a brief stint as an ophthalmologist, Doyle turned to writing full-time, with an emphasis on playing Sherlock Holmes, a role he made his debut in 1887. (Holmes’ use of a magnifying glass, probably the first in a detective novel, was inspired by Doyle’s scientific background.) After eight years as a detective — and he had grown tired of him — Doyle returned in 1901 Holmes, and in the first half of the 20th century as one of the most recognized and admired writers of the era.

Holmes’s success led Doyle to indulge his interest in spiritualism and psychic phenomena, a curiosity that was piqued early in his life after he and his friends became obsessed with “mind-shifting” experiments. Doyle was drawing on a piece of paper his friend could not see, and he was surprised to see his colleagues draw similar figures. Although he once described himself as a skeptic and spiritualism as “the greatest nonsense,” Doyle became a believer and eventually convinced himself that he could communicate with the dead. In 1917, he published an article metropolis Part of the title of the magazine was “My Shift to Idealism.” The loss of a son, a brother and a son in 1918 and 1919, respectively, may have strengthened his sense of connection with the dead.

“Clearly, from the spiritual messages I received, we came to this world mainly for self-improvement,” he told reporter HC Norris in 1925. “Our goals are angels, and when we become like them—or rather, when we become angels ourselves—we enter heaven, miles above the earth, called the seventh or outer Layers… after death, we progress from circle to circle until we reach the outermost layer.”

Given the opportunity, Doyle cites many examples of otherworldly activities. He insists that he knew a “Doctor Bill” in Exmouth who was a good doctor despite his 80 years of death. “The only unusual thing is that he gave orders through the medium of a nurse,” Doyle explained.

At one point, Doyle invited friend Harry Houdini to a seance hosted by Doyle’s second wife Gene, hoping to convince the dubious magician. Despite Jean trying to communicate with Houdini’s dead mother, the magician didn’t believe it. For one thing, his mother couldn’t write in English, as Joan claimed to be doing on her behalf. On the other hand, his mother was Jewish, which makes Joan’s reference to the sign of the cross puzzling. Houdini may have been unimpressed, but to Doyle, he was simply denying: the author believes that Houdini used psychic powers to accomplish his escape.

Nothing can stop Doyle from becoming a believer. His biggest blunder may have come in 1920, when he announced that he was convinced that the pictures taken by schoolgirls Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths were true depictions of the garden-dwelling fairies, who came to be known as the Cottingley Fairies. This whimsical tale lends credibility to Doyle’s overall spiritualist beliefs, though the girls will admit — albeit much later — that they faked the creatures. The fairies are just cutouts from a book.

Their acknowledgment was decades later, and no amount of skepticism could convince Doyle that the world was devoid of some element of fantasy. He was so determined to change the naysayers that he decided to go bold enough to open a bookstore specializing in spiritualism.

In January 1925, Doyle wrote a letter to The Conjuring Magazine Light Announced his plans to create a library of literature related to the subject. Doyle touts its location as “one of the most central in London”, insisting the store will help address the “complete disconnect” between the unknown and the average person on the street.

Doyle promises: “Nothing will be sold except psychic books, there will be plenty of inventory on hand, while every effort will be made to meet customer needs.” He ends the campaign by soliciting donations of any duplicate titles readers may want to send. letter.

Mind Bookstore opened that spring at 2 Victoria Street, London, not far from Westminster Abbey. Light Covering its debut, wrote:

“Instead of rushing to buy the treasures of the store on opening day, the public was buying books and pamphlets throughout the day. But the windows were like a magnet, and as these distant gazers overcome their initial tremors, they would Enter and enter the spiritual world for the first time.”

Before long, more than 100 people walked into the store every day. Undoubtedly, some customers are not mentally minded, but are eager to meet the famous owner and writer who uses their questions to ask questions and can often be found in his office or even on the shelves.

“I put all of myself into this project, and from a commercial point of view I certainly didn’t seek any great returns from the first-year deal,” he said in 1926. “In a way, for sure, I’m losing money because while I’ve been working, I’ve been writing psychology books almost exclusively; of course, they don’t pay. I’m sure I’m doing the right thing anyway. … I intend to keep going with all the energy I have.”

Among his employees was the author’s eldest daughter, Mary Louise Conan Doyle. Doyle and his staff curate a large collection of classic and new books, which are available at retail prices. The store also has a borrowing option, where readers can borrow books for a fee. (If they can’t make it to the store, Doyle will send them the book.)

A few months later, Doyle expanded his business, opening a “psychological museum” downstairs in the bookstore, which houses related items beyond printed materials. There, one can buy a “horn” that is said to be the correct way to communicate with ghosts. He exhibited paintings said to have been done under the influence of spirits, pictures he claimed to depict the ghosts of deceased dogs and, of course, images of the fairies of Cottingley.

One exhibit seems to trump all others: a pair of wax hands. Doyle explained that the hands were the hands of a ghost who had reached an esoteric state. The entity dipped his hands in the wax before he was able to dematerialize. Doyle insisted that the hand had to be real, as the cast was narrow at the wrist, as if the spirit had become ethereal again. “He put his wax gloves on the table, in the form of these hands,” Doyle said. Nearby, a soot-covered photographic plate bears what he describes as ghost prints.

Doyle also received spiritual guidance in the business of the store. In late 1925, he was ready to implement some new ideas for the store. A few days later, he called from Paris and told his staff to forget about it. By spring, he said, the street would be flooded, a warning from his paranormal advisers.

The streets are not flooded. In fact, the store outlived Doyle, who died in 1930, by a few years. There’s no record of whether it might be profitable or not, but given the esoteric subject matter and London’s high rental costs, it’s probably more of a passion project. There is also no clear answer about the whereabouts of the stock. (The aforementioned thief only took stamps.) The existence of the Mind Bookstore is testament to Doyle’s fascination with the afterlife, a mystery that even his great detectives can’t solve.

Leave a Comment