The signed manuscript of a patriotic poem by the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conon Doyle, is to be sold in Part I of the Roy Davids Collection III: Poetry: Poetical Manuscripts and Portraits of Poets at auction house Bonhams, of New Bond Street, London, on 10 April. It is estimated at £5,000-8,000.
Written in 1915 – the manuscript is dated 10 October – the poem, entitled Ypres 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 subsequently included in Doyle’s The Guards Came Through and Other Poems, 1919.
The work begins:
‘Push on, my Lord of Wurtenburg, 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,
It’s time they held you off before, but venture it again!
Come, try your luck, whatever fate befalls you!’
The Lord of Wurtenburg was in fact William II, King of Württemberg, a German field marshal at the Second Battle of Ypres in Spring 1915 where he faced the British troops of V Corps commanded by field marshall Sir Herbert Plumer.
Conan Doyle’s son, Kingsley, a captain in the Royal Hampshire Regiment, 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 of 1918.
Kingsley is buried in Grayshott (St Luke) Churchyard, Hampshire.
Poetry: Poetical Manuscripts and Portraits of Poets is the fruit of 40 years of collecting by the poet and scholar Roy Davids and is the finest collection of poetry ever to come to auction.
David says: ‘It would now be impossible for the present collection to be even approximately replicated.’