Seems like every time I make it out to the Bay area, there is a little discovery that I am fortunate to stumble upon. This time was no exception. A couple of weeks ago, on my little excursion to Half Price Books in Berkley, on the top shelf in the Old and Collectable section I found this little tome: “The Doyle Diary: The Last Great Conan Doyle Mystery”. This was a facsimile of the bizarre and hauntingly beautiful sketchbook diary of Charles Altamont Doyle, father of Arthur Conan Doyle. The drawings and writings in the journal were created in the late 19th century while Charles was a patient of “Sunnyside”, a part of the Montrose Royal Lunatic Asylum in Scotland. Epileptic and ailing, he would spend the rest of his days in asylums. After Charles’s death, the journal was lost and discovered only in 1975. It features truly exquisite watercolor sketches, cartoons, curious observations, allegories and puns. Here is the introduction to the journal: “Keep steadily in view that this Book is ascribed wholly to the produce of a MADMAN. Whereabouts would you say was the deficiency of Intellect? or deprived taste? If in the whole Book you can find a single evidence of either, mark it and record it against me.”
How cool is this? It is always a pleasure to see the work of others, even if they’re absolutely crazy. Doyle was so talented! These are wonderful illustrations. Great post!