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Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing [BRUC] 

The publication of the 1921 Census in 2022 prompted me to published my reading of the 1901 Census in relation to Arthur Conan Doyle.

The 1901 Census was taken on March 31st and the return for that date shows us that Arthur Conan Doyle was staying at the Ashdown Forest Hotel in East Grinstead in Sussex. The entry for the hotel is at the bottom of the following image.

Along with Arthur were Mary Foley Doyle, his mother and the new lady in his life, Jean Leckie. Arthur’s wife Louise was very ill and his liaison with Jean’s presence seemed to have the approval of his mother. The transcript of the relevant entries appears below.

In Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters, edited by John Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower and Charles Foley, Arthur’s letters to Mary talk of his plans to spend three days at the hotel, ostensibly to play golf with Jean’s brother, Stewart, and asking his mother to invite Jean to join them. Arthur was still fiercely loyal to Louise and had already told Jean that he would not leave nor divorce Louise and he would neither hurt not be unfaithful to her.

Holmes and Watson do not appear on the 1901 Census, as often seems to be the case with the census. They were presumably away from Baker Street and out of the country on the night of the census. Watson had been a widower for nearly ten years by then and may have been abroad with his new lady friend who was soon to become his second wife.

Both Holmes and Watson might have been busy with the case of the Ferrers Documents and the Abergavenny Murder was coming up for trial. Holmes may have gone to France and taken with him the manuscript of The Hound of the Baskervilles which was to be published by Conan Doyle later that year. Holmes was shortly to return to take up the case of the Duke of Holdernesse that would be later published in The Return of Sherlock Holmes as The Priory School.

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