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Accueil » Toutes les news » Le point sur la dernière demeure de Conan Doyle
Alexis Barquin
Le point sur la dernière demeure de Conan Doyle
Ian Rankin rubbishes decision not to save Arthur Conan Doyle house as literary snobbery
Février 7, 2007

Ian Rankin, l'auteur de roman policier britannique, conteste vivement la décision de la ministre de la culture Tessa Jowell de ne pas promouvoir la maison de Conan Doyle pour qu'elle soit classée monument historique et évite ainsi la destruction.

Source: BBC AMS
Received: 06/02/2007 11:21

Ian Rankin rubbishes decision not to save Arthur Conan Doyle house as 'literary snobbery'

Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin has accused government minister Tessa Jowell of "literary snobbery" over her refusal to recognise Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle as one of Britain's literary giants.

Campaigners fighting to save Conan Doyle's Surrey home where he wrote The Hound of The Baskervilles required Jowell to upgrade the mansion to Grade I status to ensure its preservation.

However, the Culture secretary has refused to save Undershaw, where Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes,  because the Scottish writer "does not occupy a significant enough position in the nation's consciousness."

The  house was partly designed in 1897 by Conan Doyle himself, along with architect Joseph Henry Hall and was used by the writer to entertain many literary guests including Bram Stoker and the young Virginia Woolf.

But while the fictional home of Sherlock Holmes in Baker Street receives more visitors than Jane Austen's house and the Dickens' House Museum, which are both Grade I-listed, Undershaw has been turned down for upgrading.

Although published in hundreds of languages and the subject of dozens of films, an official report ruled out upgrading Conan Doyle's house because he "cannot be said to be an author of the standing of Charles Dickens or Jane Austen."

Yesterday (Tuesday), Ian Rankin, the Scots author behind the Rebus novels, said: "Conan Doyle may not have a great a standing in the universities, but around the world, more people know about, and read Sherlock Holmes, than read Jane Austen.

"He created one of the most recognisable and archetypal figures in literature and if his house is not worth saving, then I would say that no house is worth saving.

"If Conan Doyle does nothing else, he brings a hell of a lot of tourists to the UK. You just have to wander up Baker Street to see that. Sherlock Holmes and Conan Doyle are known throughout the world.

"We've got problems with the home of Sir Walter Scott and we've only just saved Robert Burns' house, and it's an ongoing thing. We have to fight it all the way.

"It would appear that there's an element of literary snobbery in this. He was too popular a writer to be taken seriously and that's just not the case."

He added, "A lot of buildings associated with Conan Doyle have already been destroyed, including his childhood home in Edinburgh which was knocked down to make way for a roundabout. They're struggling to hang on  to a home belonging to one of his relatives, which is the only place left he has a connection with and at the moment, it is sitting derelict.

"We've got very few of these buildings left that connect to him."

Last year, the Victorian Society, a national charity campaigning for the Victorian and Edwardian historic environment, led an international campaign to block plans to subdivide Undershaw into 13 luxury flats.

Following the victory, the Victorian Society teamed up with 400 societies devoted to Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes around the world, to propose that the Grade II-listed building be upgraded on the grounds of its historical associations.

Dr Kathryn Ferry, Senior Architectural Adviser of the Victorian Society, asked that Tessa Jowell reconsidered what was deemed by the society "deeply unfair" decision.

She said: "The historical importance of Undershaw is indisputable.

"It was the home of one of the best-known authors in the English language. Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes are world-famous figures and people around the world care deeply about the house that played such a part in their existences.

"This decision is outrageous. When you consider that Tennyson's grandmother's house is listed at Grade II* simply because Tennyson stayed there when he was at school, it seems deeply unfair. We urge the Secretary of State to reconsider."

The home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his wife Louisa for almost ten years, Undershaw formed the backdrop for many significant literary and historical events.

It was at Undershaw that Doyle wrote his most famous work The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) and two years later resurrected one of the most famous literary characters of all time in The Return of Sherlock Holmes.

More recently, Julian Barnes set part of his Booker Prize nominated novel, Arthur & George, there.

Bram Stoker, who interviewed Conan Doyle at Undershaw, noted that the building "is so sheltered from cold winds that the architect felt justified in having lots of windows, so that the whole place is full of light. Nevertheless, it is cosy and snug to a remarkable degree, and has everywhere that sense of 'home', which is so delightful to occupant and stranger alike."


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