Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote with great passion about the first “glorious” adventure of his life: his six months aboard the Hope, an Arctic whaler on which he served six months as a ship surgeon in 1880. He was a third-year medical student at the time and turned 21 halfway through the voyage, coming of age “at 80 degrees north latitude.”
Now, over 100 years later, Conan Doyle’s diary of his trip has been published for the first time as Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure – an annotated facsimile reproduction complete with photographs, Conan Doyle’s own illustrations and a transcript.
Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure also includes several fiction and non-fiction works based on the author’s Arctic experiences. Among them are The Adventure of the Black Peter, a ghost story set in the Arctic; The Captain of the Pole-Star; and The Glamour of the Arctic, a magazine article.
“A Strange and Fascinating Chapter of my Life”
Eager to play his part in a successful trip and immerse himself in life at sea, the young Conan Doyle worked hard to join in the sealing and whaling in addition to his medical duties. He would later write about his time aboard the Hope in Memories and Adventures, his autobiography:
It is a region of purity, of white ice and of blue water, with no human dwelling within a thousand miles to sully the freshness of the breeze which blows across the icefields. And then it is a region of romance also… It was a strange and fascinating chapter of my life.
Jon Lellenberg, co-editor, Conan Doyle biographer and CDE’s literary agent in the US, explains why the diary is so compelling:
In this diary’s entries, we see the young medical student step outside the classroom into settings of high adventure and great peril, finding his way among hard men whose skill and daring he came to respect greatly, and at the end of the voyage encountering a direct link to the first tale about Sherlock Holmes that he would write six years later.
Praise for Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure
For 130 years, this amazing diary, written by the creator of Sherlock Holmes, has lain hidden. Only now have Sir Arthur’s descendants consented to its publication. It is probably one of the most exciting literary finds of recent years, for it sheds an entirely new light on a writer we thought we knew so well. ~ Philip Hoare, The Daily Mail
Purchase Your Copy Now
- Read the British Library press release.
- Discover more about the book on The Best of Sherlock.
- Arthur Conan Doyle and the mystery of the medical student’s Arctic adventure – The Guardian, Monday 6th August 2012