Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

In 1920 Adelaide Town Hall was visited by Holmes's literary creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He delivered his first lecture on a speaking tour of Australia and New Zealand from our stage, a tour that would take him five months to complete.

During his time in Adelaide there were many articles published by the papers of the day detailing his time in the City and the content of his lectures. The Daily Herald published several, but none more detailed than that of ‘HOW TO TALK WITH THE DEAD’ published on Monday 27 September, 1920.

Daily Herald
Monday 27 September 1920


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the famous novelist and spiritualist advocate, delivered his first lecture in Australia on spiritualism in the Adelaide Town Hall on Saturday evening. That keen interest is displayed in this subject was shown by the crowded audience. It was noticeable that among those present were men of high intellectual attainments - lawyers, musicians, doctors, professors, and others. The local spiritualists, whose societies have combined and issued a leaflet containing a reprint of the interview which "The Daily Herald" representative had with Sir Arthur on his arrival in this State, were there in full force, and it was undoubtedly from that section of the audience that the applause chiefly came.

Of the lecturer's sincerity there can be no doubt, and his enthusiasm likewise is beyond question, but at the conclusion of the lecture there seemed to be a feeling of disappointment. This may be accounted for by the fact that the lecture only covered the first part of his subject - probably the least interesting part. Considerably more interest should attach to the second part, to be delivered this evening, entitled "The Religious Argument." As Sir Arthur explained in his first lecture, he would deal with hard facts, mostly historical, dealing with the inauguration and growth of the spiritual movement, and he would save the bulk of manifestations of spiritual phenomena for Monday night.

Material Facts

The audience was treated to a recital of an hour and a half of material facts relating to spiritualism and the lecturer proved that he has a very firm grip of his subject. The only time he referred to notes was when he desired to quote from authorities in support of his arguments. He first stated that his subject was one of the greatest importance and concerned itself with the destiny of every man and woman in the room.

It impinged on the one side on religion and on the other side on science, and since he was neither a theologian nor an expert in science one might reasonably ask what his credentials were for talking on spiritualism. 

He explained that it was 34 years ago, in 1886 that he first took up the subject, and from that time he had been reading and investigating upon it. He had some amount of scientific knowledge, as his degrees showed, and he was popularly supposed to know something about detective work. (Applause.) That also came into the matter. He felt that he was just about ankle deep in this great subject, and he wanted to help those people who were high and dry on the shore and had not attempted to go into it. The whole of history and the Bible were full of occult knowledge and spiritualism to those who had the clue to the revelation. 

Read the full article from the Daily Herald.