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An Entirely New Country - Arthur Conan Doyle, Undershaw and the Resurrection of Sherlock Holmes Paperback – December 5, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: MX Publishing (December 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908218193
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908218193
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,634,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'It was evident from his first book Eliminate the Impossible that Alistair Duncan writes well, that he writes with knowledge and enthusiasm, and that he thinks about what he writes. His subsequent books, Close to Holmes and The Norwood Author, did more than just confirm that impression: they established him as an important commentator on Arthur Conan Doyle and his famous creation. After exploring the years when Conan Doyle lived in Norwood - surprisingly neglected by previous biographers, even though it was then that he became truly famous - Mr Duncan has turned his attention to the author's next decade, perhaps the most turbulent of his life. Undershaw, the house that Conan Doyle had built at Hindhead, was his home from 1897 to 1907. He wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Nigel, The Return of Sherlock Holmes and much else at Undershaw. The house saw the end of his first marriage and the beginning of his second. He was resident here when he became Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Yet, despite its cultural and architectural importance, Undershaw currently stands empty, vandalised and neglected. Read An Entirely New Country and you'll understand just why the Undershaw years were so important - Sherlock Holmes Journal (Sherlock Holmes Society of London) 'Alistair Duncan knows his Arthur Conan Doyle stuff. This excellent observation of the "Undershaw" period of Conan Doyle's life follows his previous fine appraisal of the "Norwood" period. Duncan covers the gamut of Conan Doyle's public and private life and comments fairly on what he sees as the noble and flawed aspects of his character.' Bill Barnes, Sydney Passengers This charming book stands not only as a testament to a crucial and hugely productive period in the life of one of our greatest storytellers but as a proud call to arms for his houses preservation. [] - Mark Gatiss (BBC Sherlock)

About the Author

Alistair Duncan is the author of three earlier books on the world of Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle. 'Eliminate the Impossible' is a study of the world of Sherlock Holmes on page and screen. 'Close to Holmes' is a look at locations in London with links to the Great Detective and his creator. 'The Norwood Author' examines the life of Conan Doyle during the short period he spent living in South Norwood between 1891 and 1894. Alistair Duncan is a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, The Sydney Passengers and the Arthur Conan Doyle (Crowborough) Establishme

More About the Author

I've been a Sherlock Holmes fan since I was introduced to Basil Rathbone in 1982. I was initially content to remain a fan until 2007 when I took it upon myself to pen a book on the subject.

This was "Eliminate the Impossible" which came out in February 2008 and looks at the stories and many of the actors to have donned the deerstalker.

Not content with one book I immediately began work on a second and "Close to Holmes" was published in February 2009.

"The Norwood Author" was published in March 2010. This book looks at the years in which Arthur Conan Doyle lived in South Norwood.

My next book is entitled "An Entirely New Country" and will look at Conan Doyle's years living in Hindhead, Surrey. It is due for release on December 5th 2011.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Leah G on March 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
Many Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts try their hand at writing pastiche (Holmes-related fiction). Alistair Duncan has taken the "road less travelled" and dedicated himself to writing biographies which connect Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to his personal geography--be it London, Norwood, or now, Undershaw.

Doyle built Undershaw (located near Hindhead, Surrey) in hopes of providing his beloved wife Louise a home in a climate which would provide her some relief from advanced tuberculosis. The family had spent the past couple of years in Egypt and Switzerland, looking for dry air and high altitudes. Family friend Grant Allen's recommendation that they try Surrey gave them the chance to return to England and raise their two children, Mary and Kingsley, with minimal disruptions.

Doyle's 10 years at Undershaw (which did, ultimately, extend Louise's life) were eventful ones. Duncan follows the author's life chronologically, giving the reader glimpses of both the mundane (depending on how you view cricket and golf) and the momentous (Hound of the Baskervilles, anyone?), with plenty of wry observations on both. While many biographers succumb to the charm of their subject, Duncan keeps a clear and objective eye, giving us a real Doyle, warts and all--particularly important as this book covers what became his complex romantic life. Here, Duncan is honest and perceptive in describing Doyle's actions and their impact upon his family.

Readers also get to see the political Doyle, and the military one, as this era includes his service in the 2nd Boer War. We see fact meet fiction as Doyle investigates the strange case (and it is pretty outré) of George Edalji.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jaime N. Mahoney on January 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle often seems to be as much of an enduring icon as the character he created--timeless, mythic, even larger-than-life. In "An Entirely New Country," Alistair Duncan strips all of that away, and reveals someone who was very real, and lived in a very human way. He had very real failings, and very human desires and insecurities. And if Doyle's reasons for resurrecting Sherlock Holmes were purely fiscal, rather than fanciful, then Duncan helps his reader to accept those reasons. Because it doesn't matter why Doyle chose to resurrect Sherlock Holmes, it only matters that he did. By focusing solely on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's years at Undershaw, Alistair Duncan provides the necessary framework and context to some of Doyle's most significant moments and decisions. The specificity of his project was ambitious, but Duncan fulfilled those demands and expectations in spades.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Whitmer on February 13, 2013
Format: Paperback
An Entirely New Country
Type of material: Trade Paperback
Publisher: MX Publishing, London
Year: 2012
Author: Alistair Duncan

This book covers the 10 years (1897-1907) that Arthur Conan Doyle lived at Undershaw, the stately home he built at Hindhead in Surrey, and where he lived with his first wife Louis "Touie" Hawkins Doyle and their two children, Mary and Kingsley. This is Duncan's sequel to The Norwood Author, a 2011 Howlett Literary Award winning book that covers Doyle's life from 1891-94.

The important years covered by this book include the launching of actor William Gillette as the world's embodiment of Holmes due to his smash hit play "Sherlock Holmes." The play was written by Gillette, but began as a play written by Doyle himself.

These years also saw the writing of arguably the greatest Gothic mystery of all time - The Hound of the Baskervilles - and ultimately the resurrection of The Great Detective himself with the publishing of what would eventually become the collection of short stories known as "The Return of Sherlock Holmes." One gathers that, despite Doyle's proclaimed dislike of his famous hero, even he was not content to let sleeping detectives lie.

These pivotal subjects are handled fairly well, as is Doyle's extensive involvement in the Boer War. Other important topics, however, I felt were rather glossed over. For example, it was during this time Doyle campaigned to clear parcee solicitor George Edalji of a charge of maliciously wounding a pony; but the broader issues of racism that surrounded this volatile subject were rather downplayed, leaving Doyle's zeal somewhat without a platform.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Thomas on March 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
The one word I would use to describe An Entirely New Country is surprising. When I opened my pdf to begin the latest non-fictional effort by notable Sherlockian Alistair Duncan, I expected something worthwhile, factual, and historically significant. If I'm honest, I also suspected it might be somewhat dull and colorless, like a textbook one feels one ought to read but can't quite get excited over. I'm delighted to admit that I was wrong. Duncan's prose is concise and colorful, and he manages to illuminate little-known history in an engaging way.

The book's structure is straightforward. It explores the years of the Conan Doyle family's residence at their Hindhead home, Undershaw, year-by-year, paying particular attention to Conan Doyle's public image and activities.

The meat on the bones is the portrait Duncan paints of a complex man, one who built a home for the sake of his wife's health, only to begin an ongoing relationship with another woman several years before his wife's death. Duncan is even-handed, and readers are given the opportunity to draw their own conclusions.

Color me surprised. An Entirely New Country is surely historical and factual and erudite, but it is far from uninteresting. As I reached its midpoint, I found myself drawn into Duncan's smooth prose and captivated by the life and times of an unusual man. Absolutely worth reading.
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