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Arthur Conan Doyle and women

For advocates of sexual equality Arthur Conan Doyle can be seen as both a hero and villain.

He fought strongly for reform of Victorian divorce laws which he saw, correctly, as favouring men and forcing people to stay in marriages that simply were never going to work. However, at the same time, he disapproved of the idea of women having the vote. His reason for this being not that women lacked the political know-how but that he feared that permitting women to vote would lead to marital disharmony with husband and wife arguing over who to vote for. In his view a wife would effectively vote through her husband by influencing how he voted.

As his youngest daughter Jean would later state, Conan Doyle was a great believer in the superiority (particulary in terms of their intelligence) of women. He saw them as less brutish than men and it was because of this that he was so horrified at the actions of the suffragettes whom he saw as, effectively, descending to the brutish ways of men in pursuit of the right to vote.

His book A Duet provided a great insight into how he viewed a successful relationship working but there were parts that he removed from the final draft. One such item from the cutting room floor was later published in an annual and showed how he viewed women as being smart enough to make a man feel he had solved a problem which gave the woman what she wanted without the man realising it. I reproduce it here for all you ladies to enjoy (click to enlarge).



Written by Alistair Duncan
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3 comments:

  1. I could see that on Sat. Night Live!
    Thanks for sharing.

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  2. The Grey Dress was not removed from the final draft and left on the cutting room floor. It was written long after 1899 and first printed in periodicals before its addition to later editions of the novel. For me the insight gained is therefore confusing. Do we believe it fiction or perhaps autobiographical with his second wife Jean?

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