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The Priory School – semi-autobiographical?

I dare say that others noticed this long ago but I have just begun to appreciate the strong autobiographical elements in The Priory School.

In it we have Lord Saltire, the son of the Duke of Holderness, who is sent to the eponymous boarding school to study but also, it is implied, to keep him out of domestic clashes between his parents.

This has its obvious parallel in Conan Doyle’s schooling at, first, Hodder preparatory school then Stonyhurst which, like the Priory School, are establishments in the north of England. He was sent away to school by his mother Mary not only to get a decent education but also to get him away from the domestic issues affecting his family. These were caused by the drunkenness and mental illness suffered by his father Charles.


Can we draw parallels between the Duke of Holderness and his secretary James Wilder and Charles Altamont Doyle and Dr Bryan Charles Waller? I think we can. Lord Saltire presumably sees the power held over his father by Wilder and this is what leads him to take his mother’s side and be lured into fleeing the school supposedly to see her. The young Arthur resented the power Dr Waller had in his home over his entire family. There is also a certain resemblance between Paget's drawings of the Duke and Charles Doyle. 

Was this purely coincidence? 

Self-portrait by Charles Doyle (left) - The Duke of Holderness (far right) as drawn by Sidney Paget


For more information on Arthur Conan Doyle and his time at Undershaw please refer to my book, An Entirely New Country which is available through all good bookstores including Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Classic Specialities, and in all electronic formats including iTunes, Kobo, Nook and Kindle .

The Norwood Author is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Waterstones UK, Amazon UK,  Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon Kindle, iBooks for the iPad/iPhone, Kobo Books, Nook.

Close to Holmes is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USABarnes and NobleAmazon UKWaterstones UKAmazon KindleKoboNook  and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.

Eliminate the Impossible is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK, Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.

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