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Accueil » Toutes les news » Edimbourg-Portsmouth, à qui la collection Conan Doyle ?
Thierry Saint-Joanis
Edimbourg-Portsmouth, à qui la collection Conan Doyle ?
Edinburgh vs Portsmouth to keep ACD's collection
Août 30, 2009

La ville d'Edimbourg va-t-elle disputer à celle de Portsmouth le droit d'abriter la plus importante collection de documents concernant sir Arthur Conan Doyle ? La question va être discutée cette semaine en Ecosse, mais Portsmouth a déjà fait connaître son désaccord.

La collection de 40 000 documents liés à Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – y compris des papiers personnels, des photographies et des premières éditions de ses livres – a été léguée à la ville de Portsmouth après la mort de l'holmésien millionnaire Richard Lancelyn Green.
Mais, avançant qu'une grande partie de la collection n'est pas encore accessible au public, un groupe d'élus du Parlement écossais souhaitent que leur gouvernement entame des négociations pour récupérer ce musée "Conan Doyle" à Edimbourg, où l'auteur est né en 1859.
Robin Harper, président du Scottish Parliament's arts advisory group, un passionné de Conan Doyle et grand lecteur des aventures de Sherlock Holmes, prévoit de proposer une motion cette semaine, appelant à l'ouverture des négociations.
"Il est clair que Portsmouth rencontre d'énormes difficultés dans la gestion de cette collection, dit-il. Il semble peu probable que l'ensemble des pièces soit accessibles au public dans un avenir proche, voire jamais. Si la ville de Portsmouth n'a pas les moyens de traiter et exposer la collection, l'Écosse et Edimbourg devraient avoir la possibilité de prendre le relai et je suis sûr que nous accepterons avec joie. En termes de compétence et de capacité, il n'y a aucune comparaison entre ce que Edimbourg et Portsmouth peuvent offrir."
Mais il y a déjà eu une réaction ferme de Portsmouth, qui a clairement indiqué qu'elle n'abandonnera pas la collection sans se battre. A suivre...
(source :, le dimanche 30 août)

Case of the disputed Conan Doyle relics
Published Date: 30 August 2009 (
IT REQUIRES no great detective work to deduce that an injustice is being perpetrated. The largest and most important collection of memorabilia belonging to Sherlock Holmes' creator is "gathering dust" in a city hundreds of miles from his birthplace.
The collection of 40,000 items related to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – including personal papers, photographs and first editions of his books – was bequeathed to the city of Portsmouth following the death of eccentric millionaire Richard Lancelyn Green,a leading member of the international Conan Doyle Society.
But amid concerns that much of the collection is not yet on show to the public, a group of MSPs want the Scottish Government to open negotiations to bring it north to Edinburgh, where the author was born in 1859.
Robin Harper, chairman of the Scottish Parliament's arts advisory group, a Conan Doyle enthusiast and avid reader of Holmes books, is planning to put down a motion this week calling for talks to begin.
"It is clear that Portsmouth is having a very difficult time handling this collection," he said. "It seems that it is unlikely to be properly and fully on show in the near future, if at all.
"If it is not prepared to properly catalogue and display the collection, then Scotland and Edinburgh should be given the chance, and I am sure we will happily accept.
"In terms of expertise and capacity, there is no comparison between what Edinburgh and Portsmouth have to offer."
But there has been a fierce response from Portsmouth, which has made it clear it will not give up the memorabilia without a fight.
The collection, which also features an exact reconstruction of Holmes' room in 221b Baker Street, reflects the multi-faceted life of Conan Doyle, one of the great polymaths of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, who was not only a great writer but also a doctor, accomplished sportsman and sometime politician who developed a fascination with spiritualism.
Lancelyn Green, who died in 2004, is believed to have killed himself in a recreation of a Sherlock Holmes-style murder after getting depressed over the Conan Doyle family splitting up its own collection. He was discovered garrotted with a shoelace tightened around his neck with a wooden spoon.
In his will, he stipulated that the 40,000 items should not be split up but kept together to be displayed and available for study. His shortlist of preferred locations was headed by Portsmouth because Conan Doyle was a doctor in the city for many years and it was there he wrote his first Holmes story – A Study in Scarlet in 1887 – before moving to London.
Conan Doyle also played in goal for Portsmouth Association Football Club, an amateur forerunner to the current Premier League club.
Second on the shortlist of three was Edinburgh, where Conan Doyle was born and later studied medicine at Edinburgh University. Third was the Bodleian Library in Oxford.
When the collection arrived in Portsmouth in the summer of 2005, the city council had a two-year deadline to archive it. However, with that deadline now passed by two years, only 20,000 of the items have been archived so far. The work is being carried out part-time by two unpaid volunteers.
In addition, plans for a special museum to display the collection have never materialised. Only a few items have been on display in the City Museum, where a proposed expansion has also been shelved.
Harper believes that time is now running out for Portsmouth to treat the internationally significant collection with the respect it deserves. He has called on Scottish culture minister Mike Russell to open discussions with Portsmouth with a view to rehousing it in Edinburgh, possibly at the National Museum of Scotland.
Other suggestions have included turning the old, and now largely disused, Royal High School on Calton Hill, into an international Conan Doyle Centre.
However, Scotland, like Dr Watson, should put that idea in its pipe and smoke it, according to Portsmouth. Lee Hunt, the Liberal Democrat city councillor responsible for culture, said the collection was the central plank of Portsmouth's bid to become European City of Culture and was also being used to try to get the city included in England's football World Cup bid.
He claimed good progress had been made in cataloguing the items, even though the council has long missed the deadline, and he pointed out that many items had been on display in the City Museum.
Hunt claimed that documents had also been made available for study in the city library.
"I think there is as much wind in this idea from this MSP as there is in your Scottish bagpipes," he said. "Basically, the collection belongs to us and if Edinburgh thinks it's going to get it, it's not going to happen."
However, he said that he was willing to offer Edinburgh a chance to display parts of the collection, "as long as the city is willing to pay for the privilege".
He added: "We would welcome any offers of expertise from Edinburgh and Scotland. They are quite welcome to visit our city and help out."


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