How Did Conan Doyle Become a Spiritualist?

Many people think that Conan Doyle turned to Spiritualism after the death of his son, Kingsley, in 1918, but this is wrong.

Conan Doyle was a convinced materialist when he left Edinburgh University as a young man. However, in Southsea in the 1880s he performed experiments in telepathy, investigated hypnosis and attended séances. During this time he became increasingly fascinated by spirit communication. He was a founder member of the Hampshire Society for Psychical Research and in 1893 investigated poltergeist activity in Dorset.

His interest in spiritual phenomena can be seen in the many horror stories he wrote, and later in the books he penned on Spiritualism.

Surrounded by the suffering and grief of The Great War, Conan Doyle reasoned that Spiritualism was a new revelation sent by God to ease the suffering of the bereaved.

A portrait of Conan Doyle with a blurred white face over his shoulder

A portrait of Conan Doyle with a spirit. One of many spirit photographs in the collection.

A hand written letter with address printed at the top

A letter from Arthur Conan Doyle to his sons, Adrian and Denis describing a spirit medium’s contact with his eldest son, Kingsley.