HE IS better known for Sherlock Holmes than his poetry, but a signed manuscript of a patriotic poem by Scots author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is going on sale.
The rare document, written in 1915 and entitled Ypres, is estimated to fetch up to £8,000 when it goes up for auction at Bonhams in London on 10 April.
The work was Conan Doyle’s contribution to The Queen’s Gift Book, published for Christmas 1915, “In aid of Queen Mary’s Convalescent Auxiliary Hospitals for soldiers and sailors who have lost their limbs in the War”. It was also included in Doyle’s The Guards Came Through and Other Poems, published in 1919.
The work begins: “Push on, my Lord of Wurtemburg, push on, across the fen!/ See where the Town of Ypres calls you!/ There’s just one ragged British line of Plumer’s weary men.”
The Lord of Wurtemburg referred to in the poem was William II, King of Württemberg, a German Field Marshal at the Second Battle of Ypres, where he faced the British troops of V Corps commanded by Field Marshall Sir Herbert Plumer.
Conan Doyle’s son Kingsley was badly wounded on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916, and though he survived, was subsequently struck down by the Spanish influenza epidemic in 1918.
The manuscript is being sold as part of the Poetry: Poetical Manuscripts and Portraits of Poets collection, the fruit of 40 years of collecting by the poet and scholar Roy Davids, and is considered the finest collection of poetry to come to auction.