Collection about life of Sherlock Holmes author finds a home

Georgie McNichol (right) meets June Lancelyn Green at the opening of the Arthur Conan Doyle research room
Georgie McNichol (right) meets June Lancelyn Green at the opening of the Arthur Conan Doyle research room

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THE life story of Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has a new home.

More than 50 people gathered at Portsmouth Central Library yesterday to see the official opening of the Conan Doyle Collection.

It contains more than 40,000 objects which belonged to the author, 16,000 books owned or written by him, and 24,000 items of memorabilia.

June Lancelyn Green, whose son Richard created the archive and bequeathed it to Portsmouth, was there to launch the collection, which is based on the second floor of the library.

She said: ‘I’m very proud it’s here and open to everyone. Richard would have been thrilled.’

The facility has a public area with computers and items from the archive, and a larger area containing the majority of the pieces collected by Mr Lancelyn Green up to his death in 2004.

It can be visited without appointment, but researchers who want to access specific items are recommended to contact the library in advance.

At the launch, author Andrew Lycett, who wrote a biography of Conan Doyle, said: ‘I used the archive to research the book. It contains an incredible amount of information.

‘It’s fitting it should be here, as Conan Doyle lived on Elm Grove, Southsea, while he practised as a GP.

‘He played in goal for the football team which became Portsmouth FC and wrote his first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet, here.

‘Richard Lancelyn Green was impressed by Portsmouth’s care for its Dickens archive, and the work of council officers and volunteers proves he was right to give his collection to the city.’

Sarah Cheverton, a researcher, is part of the volunteer team cataloguing the archive’s items.

The work is ongoing, with an estimated 12,000 items left.

She said: ‘I’ve been working on it for four years. It’s been hard work at times, because there’s such a range of items.

‘I’m so glad it’s open to everyone here.’