Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure by Arthur Conan DoyleDangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure by Arthur Conan Doyle

Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure

byArthur Conan Doyle

Hardcover | October 1, 2012

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In 1880 a young medical student named Arthur Conan Doyle embarked upon the “first real outstanding adventure” of his life, taking a berth as ship’s surgeon on an Arctic whaler, the Hope. The voyage took him to unknown regions, showered him with dramatic and unexpected experiences, and plunged him into dangerous work on the ice floes of the Arctic seas. He tested himself, overcame the hardships, and, as he wrote later, “came of age at 80 degrees north latitude.”

Conan Doyle’s time in the Arctic provided powerful fuel for his growing ambitions as a writer. With a ghost story set in the Arctic wastes that he wrote shortly after his return, he established himself as a promising young writer. A subsequent magazine article laying out possible routes to the North Pole won him the respect of Arctic explorers. And he would call upon his shipboard experiences many times in the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, who was introduced in 1887’s A Study in Scarlet.
Out of sight for more than a century was a diary that Conan Doyle kept while aboard the whaler. Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure makes this account available for the first time in a beautiful facsimile edition that reproduces Conan Doyle’s notebook pages in his own elegant hand, accompanied by his copious illustrations. With humor and grace, Conan Doyle provides a vivid account of a long-vanished way of life at sea. His careful detailing of the experience of arctic whaling is equal parts fascinating and alarming, revealing the dark workings of the later days of the British whaling industry. In addition to the facsimile and annotated transcript of the diary, the volume contains photographs of the Hope, its captain, and a young Conan Doyle on deck with its officers; two nonfiction pieces by Doyle about his experiences; and two of his tales inspired by the journey.
To the end of his life, Conan Doyle would look back on this experience with awe: “You stand on the very brink of the unknown,” he declared, “and every duck that you shoot bears pebbles in its gizzard which come from a land which the maps know not. It was a strange and fascinating chapter of my life.” Only now can the legion of Conan Doyle fans read and enjoy that chapter.

A special limited, numbered edition of the clothbound book is also available. In addition, a text-only e-book edition is published as Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure, Text-only Edition.

Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930) was a British physician and writer most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes. Jon Lellenberg and Daniel Stashower are the editors of Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters and Conan Doyle’s first novel, The Narrative of John Smith. 
Title:Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic AdventureFormat:HardcoverDimensions:368 pages, 10 × 8.5 × 1.5 inPublished:October 1, 2012Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022600905X

ISBN - 13:9780226009056

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Table of Contents

1: Introduction

2: Facsimile of the diary (c.180 pages)

3: Transcript of the diary

4: Two non-fiction pieces by Arthur Conan Doyle about his experiences: ‘The Glamour of the Arctic’ (The Idler, July 1892) and ‘Life on a Greenland Whaler’ (The Strand Magazine, January 1897)

5: Fiction pieces by Arthur Conan Doyle inspired by the voyage: ‘The Captain of the Pole Star’ (Temple Bar, 1883), ‘J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement’ (The Cornhill, 1884) and ‘The Adventure of Black Peter’, a Sherlock Holmes story of 1904.

Editorial Reviews

“We revere Arthur Conan Doyle as the creator of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, but he was far more than just the great storyteller of his age: There was a streak of the adventurer in Conan Doyle’s make-up, reflected in his passion for boxing matches, outdoor sports, and war zones. While still a medical student, a very young Arthur shipped out for six months on an Arctic whaler, turning twenty-one just 600 miles from the North Pole. His diary of this ‘dangerous work’ makes irresistible reading, especially when annotated by two of the most knowledgeable Conan Doyle scholars alive. As a supplement, Jon Lellenberg and Daniel Stashower include four magnificent pieces of writing inspired by this youthful adventure: Conan Doyle’s reflections on ‘The Glamour of the Arctic’ and ‘Life on a Greenland Whaler,’ his most haunting ghost story, ‘The Captain of the Polestar,’ and one of the most dramatic of all Sherlock Holmes mysteries, ‘The Adventure of Black Peter.’ This is, in short, an important book for scholars, but also a tremendously exciting one for readers.”