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Last Updated: Monday, 1 August 2005, 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK
Sherlock mystery not elementary
Hound of the Baskervilles
The story of the hound was told to Conan Doyle by a journalist
Proposals to exhume a body in a graveyard in Devon have been rejected by the parish church committee.

The exhumation was planned to solve a mystery surrounding the true author of the Hound of the Baskervilles.

A local historian has suggested that Victorian journalist Bertram Fletcher-Robinson penned the original story and not Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The historian claims the journalist was poisoned, but the committee has unanimously rejected an exhumation.

Laudanum traces

It said it would be "highly disruptive and upsetting for the church and the village."

The Diocese of Exeter, which also has to rule on the matter, is awaiting an application before examining the views and evidence.

Rodger Garrick-Steele said Fletcher-Robinson wrote the story about a sinister hound on Dartmoor which eventually became one of the best-known stories involving the pipe-smoking sleuth Sherlock Holmes.

The story is said to have led to a knighthood for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; but Mr Garrick-Steel, who lives at Ipplepen, where Fletcher-Robinson is buried, has spent the past 16 years researching the link between the journalist and Conan Doyle.

The historian claims there is evidence that Fletcher-Robinson was poisoned in a plot which leads back to Conan Doyle and the only way to get proof is to exhume Robinson's body to examine it for traces of laudanum.

When the Hound of the Baskervilles book was published in 1902, Conan Doyle acknowledged the debt he owed to his friend Fletcher-Robinson for telling him of the hound legend.

Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts and literary scholars have dismissed Garrick-Steele's claims of plagiary and murder, but unravelling the mystery of the Hound of the Baskervilles could be a challenge worthy of a sleuth of similar calibre to the famous Mr Holmes.

Conan Doyle 'stole Sherlock story'
02 Aug 01 |  Entertainment


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