DOYLE, Sir Arthur Conan (1859-1930). Autograph manuscript of the novel The Land of Mist, London, Crowborough and elsewhere [?Switzerland], n.d. [October 1924 – February 1925]; signed at the end of chapter XI (‘Arthur Conan Doyle / Crowborough / England’).

Approximately 277 leaves, 228 x 172mm, 260 x 200mm (chapters XI and XII only) and 203 x 158mm (chapter XVI ff.3-16 and chapter XVII ff.1-14), a few other leaves cut down to a smaller size; blue or white lined paper, rectos only, occasional original or early foliation throughout, paper stock for chapter X (and a few leaves in chapter XVIII) with printed pagination; tipped on guards into an album, half red roan.

Provenance: Denis Conan Doyle (1909-1955) – sold by his widow Nina Mdivani Conan Doyle, at Parke-Bernet, New York, 11 November 1955 – offered by ‘a Boston collector’ at Parke-Bernet, 22 March 1966 – Iwaki Meisei University, Japan.

The last ‘Challenger’ novel: the complete manuscript as published. The manuscript is a fluent draft, with a number of cancellations and alterations, differing in a number of details from the published text. The opening of chapter I includes two earlier proposed titles for the book: ‘The Quest of Edward Malone’ and ‘The Ladder’, The chapter titles (see below) differ markedly from the published text, and have two numbering discrepancies: a duplicate chapter V, and a missing chapter XIII (cut from the published work: see Christie’s, 19 July 2019, lot 581). Many of the chapters bear Doyle’s characteristic pencil instructions to his typist, ‘3 Co[pie]s … 15 Buck[ingham] Pal[ace] M[ansions]’ or variants. The metric paper stock of chapters XI and XII, and the form of the address including ‘England’ suggests that this section was written overseas, no doubt during Doyle’s visit to Grindelwald, Switzerland, in December 1924 – January 1925.

The Land of Mist is the last of Arthur Conan Doyle's three novels featuring the comparative anthropologist Professor Challenger. A man of massive stature, his head 'the largest I have ever seen upon a human being', Challenger is in some ways the antithesis of Sherlock Holmes, being domineering and crude, yet endearing and endlessly ingenious. The Land of Mist is set after the death of Challenger's wife Jessica, and features his investigation of the world of Spiritualism (one of Doyle's own personal obsessions), alongside his faithful friends Ted Malone and Lord Roxton. According to ABPC, this is the most substantial manuscript by Doyle to have appeared at auction since 1996, and the first for a complete novel since the same date.

I. ‘In which our Specials make a start’. 29 ff.
II. [Untitled]. 10 ff.
III. ‘The Professor’s Opinion’. 6 ff.
IV. ‘Strange Days in Hammersmith’. 10 ff.
V. ‘A Remarkable Experience’. 22 ff.
V. [bis]. Cancelled title: ‘A Remarkable Experience’. 18 ff.
VI. ‘A Notorious Criminal’. 17 ff.
VII. ‘Tom Linden & the Law’. 16 ff.
VIII. ‘A Dark Soul’. 23 ff.
IX. ‘Some very Physical Phenomena’. 11 ff.
X. ‘De Profundis’. 18 ff.
XI. ‘Silas comes into his own’. 13 ff.
XII. ‘Heights and Depths’. 13 ff
XIII. [lacking]
XIV. ‘Challenger goes forth to Battle’. 20 ff.
XV. ‘In which Challenger meets a strange Colleague’. 12 ff.
XVI. ‘Traps for a great Quarry’. 16 ff.
XVII. ‘Challenger has the experience of his Lifetime’. 17 ff.
XVIII. ‘When the Mists Clear’. 6 ff.
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