In the spring of 1905, members of an exclusive club of crime enthusiasts known as Our Society were taken on a guided excursion through Whitechapel, one of London’s most notorious districts, by Dr. Frederick Gordon Brown, the chief police surgeon for the City of London. But this was no ordinary sightseeing tour. The focus of the outing was Jack the Ripper’s reputed murder sites, and among the guests that day was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the world’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes.
Here, now, in The Strange Case of Dr. Doyle by first-time son/father writing team Daniel Friedman, MD, and Eugene Friedman, MD, you are cordially invited to join a recreation of that tour. This expedition, however, will differ from the original in one very important way: It will be led by celebrated author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself. As you stroll beside Doyle and his other guests, you will travel to the location of each of the five canonical Ripper murders. Thanks to your guide’s observations and opinions, all of which are based on actual historical accounts, you will learn as much about the district of Whitechapel as you will the terrible Ripper killings that occurred there.
After each stop on the tour, you will also become acquainted with the life of Arthur Conan Doyle, from his earliest days in Edinburgh to his first taste of success as a writer. You will observe Arthur’s hardships at home, his experiences at boarding school, his adventures at sea, his university education, and his days as a working medical doctor. You will be granted a picture of the man as few have ever seen him. As you alternate between biography and tour, you will become a Holmes-like detective, unearthing facts, discovering details, and piecing together information about both Jack the Ripper and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. If you maintain a sharp mind and a keen eye, at the end of your journey, you may just uncover a truth you never expected to find.
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About the Author
Daniel Friedman, MD, received his BA from Stony Brook University, and his medical degree from St. George’s School of Medicine. He is currently a practicing pediatrician in Floral Park, New York, and is also an active member of the Cohen Children’s Medical Center, where he sits on the voluntary staff advisory committee. In addition to being an amateur sleuth, he spends his spare time as singer/songwriter and bass guitar player for the Friedman Brothers Band. Dr. Friedman resides on Long Island with his wife, Elena, and their three children, Amanda, David, and Andrew.
Eugene Friedman, MD, received his BA from New York University, and his medical degree from New York Medical College. He was Chief Resident in Pediatrics at New York Medical College and attained the rank ofMajor Assistant Chief of Pediatrics at the Martin Army Hospital at Fort Benning, Georgia. Dr. Friedman has run a private practice in pediatrics for over thirty years. He is also an ardent gardener and a translator of late nineteenth-century French poetry. He and his wife, Sheryl, live on Long Island and have five children and thirteen grandchildren.
Table of Contents
1. The Doyles, 5
2. The London Hospital, 8 AM, 13
3. Young Arthur, 35
4. Hanbury Street, 9 AM, 63
5. To Feldkirch and Back, 73
6. The Ten Bells, 11 AM 89
7. The University of Edinburgh, 99
8. Dutfield’s Yard, 1:30 PM, 117
9. Apprentice and Arctic Adventurer, 139
10. Mitre Square, 3 PM, 165
11. Becoming Doctor Doyle, 189
12. Goulston Street, 4 PM, 203
13. An African Journey, 215
14. Miller’s Court, 5 PM, 233
15. His Portsmouth Practice, 251
16. Miller’s Court, 6 PM, 271
17. Of Marriage and Masons, 285
18. The London Hospital, 6:30 PM, 297
19. The Game is Afoot, 299
Annotated Bibliography, 311
About the Authors, 333
In 1903, British stage actor Harry Brodribb Irving hosted a dinner party at his London home. The two prerequisites he had set for earning an invitation to this exclusive soirée were membership in London society’s upper echelon and expertise in the art of conversation. He made sure the ambience of the evening would be conducive to relaxed discussions of the day’s more controversial issues. Gradually, the group’s focus shifted to a single topic—murder.
Irving himself had already achieved a degree of fame through several of the books he had penned on the subject, and his guests that night were a collection of Britain’s best and brightest in the spheres of law enforcement, forensic medicine, journalism, and crime and mystery writing. Irving decided, then and there, that there was no way he would allow such lively exchanges on his favorite subject to end after just one night. By the evening’s conclusion, he proposed that this small assemblage establish a dinner club dedicated to the formal study of murder and the criminal mind. Its mission would be “the propagation of truth and the communication of new ideas—rather from the necessities of things than upon any one man’s suggestion.”
This fraternity was not to be open to all who would want to join it, for, in the spirit of the day, it was designed to remain both exclusive and secretive. The roster of its first class was comprised of S. Ingleby Oddie, the City of London Police Surgeon; Norwich’s Dr. Herbert Crosse, a medico-legal expert; James Beresford Atlay, a noted barrister and archivist of crime; Arthur Lambton, writer and journalist, and the club’s first secretary; and, of course, Harry Irving himself. Almost immediately after its creation, the dinner club added to its members William Le Queux, the master of mystery writing; A.E.W. Mason, actor, author, and future spy; Max Pemberton, lawyer, mystery novelist, and journalist; John Churton Collins, Oxford professor and writer; George R. Sims, humorist, journalist, and poet; E.W. Hornung, creator of A.J. Raffles, the gentleman thief; and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the recently knighted author.
This diverse group of gentlemen brought to the table credentials that qualified each of them as an expert in the inner workings of the criminal mind. Soon, admission to the club became one of the most sought-after prizes in the realm. While these gifted individuals referred to their club rather snobbishly as “Our Society,” the British press decided to tag the group with a somewhat more lurid label: the “Murder Club.” Its dinner meetings were held four times a year at the Great Central Hotel on Marylebone Road, and in the early days, these gatherings were informal affairs, where celebrated cases were bandied about in a chatty yet sophisticated manner. Some of its members had unprecedented access to crime photographs, weapons, letters, and other authenticated evidence associated with sensational cases. Indeed, some of the clubmen had been able to obtain and amass the rarest of specimens from crimes that had occurred as much as a century earlier. Many of these items were assembled into special exhibits and transported to the club’s dinner discussions, so these privileged associates could view and, in some instances, even hold them in their own hands.
Although Our Society was established as a sit-down dinner club, it refused to restrict itself to the confines of hotel meeting rooms. Within a year of its formation, the Murder Club went on its first field trip. On Wednesday, April 19, 1905, the three members of Our Society who were alumni of the University of Edinburgh School of Medicine—Dr. Samuel Ingleby Oddie, Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle, and Dr. Herbert Crosse—along with H. B. Irving, John Churton Collins, and Collins’s twenty-six-year-old son, Laurence—met up with Oddie’s old friend Dr. Frederick Gordon Brown in front of the City of London Police Hospital in Bishopsgate. Brown, who was the current City of London chief police surgeon, owed his reputation to his knowledge of the burgeoning field of crime scene investigation, which had begun only three years before. He would take this select group on the excursion of a lifetime, a guided tour of one of London’s roughest areas, Whitechapel.
Although criminal activity, debauchery, and murder had always been considered intrinsic components of the district, the name Whitechapel had not evoked universal fear and horror until seventeen years prior when, in the late summer of 1888, the man who would become known as Jack the Ripper began his victimization of some of the area’s female residents. Wanting to perform its own investigation of the still unsolved Ripper murders, Our Society had decided to enlist the assistance of Brown and two police detectives who “knew all the facts about the murders.”
On this early spring day, the group of nine sallied forth to visit the sites at which it was said the Ripper had performed such terrible deeds. Moreover, Brown was not about to forfeit this rare opportunity to impress such an elite band of amateur crime solvers with his encyclopedic knowledge of non-Ripper related cases, sometimes taking the group to places that bore only peripheral relationships to the Ripper legend, hoping to create a better understanding of the neighborhood’s social, economic, and emotional climate during Jack’s reign of terror. This jaunt into unglamorous real life was exactly the type of thing in which all the members of Our Society reveled. In fact, according to the elder Collins, Doyle has been mesmerized by the hustle and bustle of the area.
As the group’s first president, Arthur Lambton was the acknowledged leader of Our Society, but it was Doyle’s association with the club that gave it its elevated status. Doyle, who had immersed himself in all of London’s activities, always managed to become the center of attention wherever he went. Everyone wanted to share the limelight with him. Doyle was held in the highest esteem by the Crown, mostly for his work chronicling the Boer War. In 1902, King Edward VII awarded him a knighthood, which he would have turned down had his mother not insisted that he accept the designation of “Sir.” As the most famous writer on the hottest topic of his day—crime—Doyle had the good fortune to find himself at a time when this subject was shedding its scruffy image and evolving into a refined science. He always seemed to be a half step ahead of the club’s other members when it came to the details of so many noteworthy crimes.
While there have been many theories regarding Jack the Ripper’s identity, over a hundred years later, his real name remains unknown. Perhaps a clearer understanding of the facts as they exist may shed light on this mystery. To this end, we have taken the liberty of bringing you, the reader, on a tour of Whitechapel similar to the one taken by Our Society in 1905. This book’s rendition of the original expedition is set five years later, and is presented in such a way as to avoid any confusion regarding the order of Ripper events. And who is better qualified to conduct our tour than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? Replacing the other original tour members are eight fictionalized surrogates who will serve to ask and answer the reader’s questions along the way. Although this tour never happened, the facts of the murders as described are accurate, and the comments and opinions offered by Dr. Doyle and his invited guests are based on historical records. While the original tour visited nine documented murder sites on April 19, 1905, only the five Ripper sites recognized by Doyle are visited and discussed on this outing.
Along with our fictitious hunt for Jack the Ripper, we also offer a nonfictional look at the young Arthur Conan Doyle. To understand the man himself, and the ideas on which he expounds within our tour, we present a detailed biography based on the first thirty years of his life. We trace Doyle’s roots back to his earliest days in Edinburgh and watch as his life unfolds. We witness his hardships, education, adventures, and entanglements, allowing us to perceive the renowned author as few have ever done before. Alternating between biography and tour, we hope to give you not only the chance to piece together the picture of a famous man, but also the opportunity to solve a series of infamous crimes. The game is afoot.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Just bought this book and cant put it down. The author has given us a some amazing thoughts and compelling ideas on Arthur Conan Doyle and Jack the Ripper. I recommend this book to mystery buffs, historians and anyone who likes a GOOD book. I am looking forward to more books by this author. Daniel Friedman has really made me open my eyes.