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C. Frederick Kittle collection of Doyleana

Identifier: VAULT-Modern-MS-Kittle-Doyle

Scope and Content of the Collection

This portion of the C. Frederick Kittle Collection of Doyleana, amassed by Dr. Kittle, includes mostly correspondence, twenty-five photographs, artwork and a few miscellaneous items relating to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his family. There are 140 letters, notes and cards written by Arthur Conan Doyle (including a few written by secretary and signed by him), and 12 letters to him, including 6 from Rudyard Kipling and 3 from Leslie Curnow, writer for Light, a journal of psychic research. There are 57 miscellaneous letters, some written by Doyle family members, others associated with Doyle, and the rest are those retained by Dr. Kittle relating to his collecting of Doyle materials.

The group of photographs consists of portraits and snapshots of Doyle, plus several associated with his various interests and activities, and a portrait of actor William Gillette. The art includes work of his grandfather John, his father Charles and his uncle Richard, 3 illustrations for published stories, and a pencil drawing by Horace Vernet.

Miscellany includes some notes for a lecture, a few pieces of ephemera, obituaries and memorial for Doyle’s daughter Jean, who died in 1997, and photocopies of correspondence held by the British Museum. Also includes facsimiles of manuscript works of Doyle's, and a scrapbook containing photographs, scientific papers, etc., documenting Kittle's medical career.


  • Creation: 1836-2000



Materials are in English.


The C. Frederick Kittle collection of Doyleana are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 5 folders at a time maximum, and items in each folder will be counted before and after delivery to the patron (Priority I).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The C. Frederick Kittle collection of Doyleana are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

British author.

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh in 1859, the son of Mary Foley and Charles Altamont Doyle. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh where he graduated in 1881, and while there served as a doctor on a whaling ship and as a surgeon in West Africa. These early adventures were characteristic of a man whose life would be one of boundless, energetic activity – not only as a physician but ultimately, as a prolific and highly successful author.

Doyle’s reputation has been sustained by his creation of Sherlock Holmes, and the idiosyncratic sleuth has remained a literary icon for more than a hundred and twenty years after his first appearance in 1888 in the tale, A Study in Scarlet. However, although the writing of many extremely popular detective and adventure works was highly lucrative, Doyle’s bibliography reflects the range of his ardent interests and causes. In 1900, after volunteering as a doctor in Africa, he wrote a critique of the Boer War, apparently resulting in a knighthood in 1902. In 1909, Doyle was vigorously publicizing the deplorable conditions in the Congo. In 1914, too old to serve in the army, he organized a local volunteer battalion, and later published The British Campaign in France and Flanders. His sense of justice engaged him in the involvement of several notorious criminal cases, such as his defense of an accused murderer, Oscar Slater. Besides writing pamphlets and books on political and social issues, and continuing a steady output of short stories, Doyle produced plays, romances, historical novels, even poetry, and as an indefatigable correspondent, thousands of letters.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s personal life was a full and busy one. After his first wife, Louisa, died in 1906 leaving him with two children, he married Jean Leckie and eventually had three more children. Physically restless and robust, he enjoyed playing cricket, hiking, cycling, archeological excavating, traveling, lecturing. Doyle was wealthy enough to invest in various businesses, such as the A.W. Wall’s motorcycle company, McClure’s publishing company, and a card and stationery company, among others. Then, in the last decade of his life, his energies and emotions became fervently devoted to Spiritualism.

Doyle’s observations of and experiences with death and dying – his son and brother died in W.W. I. – and perhaps his own hyper-sensitive imagination, led him to find solace in the denial of death and a belief it was possible to contact persons beyond the grave. He kept contact with psychics, mediums and practicing Spiritualists and regularly lectured on the subject, participated in séances, and tried to figure out how to photograph the auras of the deceased. He even believed in fairies. For a time he was friendly with Harry Houdini, thinking the magician was sympathetic with the cause, when actually Houdini was a prominent opponent of the Spiritualist movement in the 1920s.

This final phase of the life of Arthur Conan Doyle, as sad and foolish as many critics have judged it, has not diminished his lasting distinction as an original and influential innovator in the field of crime and detective fiction. He died, aged 71, in 1930.

Biography of C. Frederick Kittle

Chicago physician and collector.

A native of Athens, Ohio, Dr. C. Frederick Kittle graduated from Ohio University in 1942, went on to earn a medical degree at the University of Chicago, and completed his training in thoracic surgery at the University of Kansas. He has practiced at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies, Veterans Administration hospitals in Missouri and Kansas, the University of Chicago Hospitals, Cook County Hospitals, Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium in Chicago and Rush Medical College. Dr. Kittle, active in many professional organizations, was also the author of more than 200 journal articles in cardiology and thoracic surgery.

In his private life, Dr. Kittle had become a premier book collector. For thirty years he amassed an extensive collection of travel books written by physicians. When he sold these in 1990, he found he missed the spirit of collecting on a single theme, and commenced to concentrate on accumulating Doyleana – correspondence, manuscripts, first editions, photographs, and artwork relating to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his family. Dr. Kittle had first become attracted to Doyle’s work when he purchased “The Romance of Medicine”, a nineteen page, handwritten medical lecture that Doyle gave at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London in 1910. Kittle found a kindred spirit in Doyle, who had been a practicing physician before largely devoting himself to literary efforts.

During his retirement, Dr. Kittle donated his extensive and important collection of Arthur Conan Doyle materials to the Newberry Library in Chicago in 2003.


4.4 Linear Feet (6 boxes and 2 oversize folders)


Correspondence, photographs, and artwork of and relating to Arthur Conan Doyle and his family, forming a small part of the C. Frederick Kittle Collection of Doyleana, most of which is individually cataloged. Includes 140 letters, notes and cards written by Arthur Conan Doyle, 12 letters to him, and 57 other letters, some by Doyle family members and others retained by C. Frederick Kittle (mostly regarding his collecting of Doyle materials). Also artwork by Doyle’s father, grandfather and uncle, four additional illustrations, twenty-five photographs and a few miscellaneous items.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Arthur Conan Doyle Correspondence, 1888-1930
Boxes 1-2
Series 2: General Correspondence, 1836-2000
Box 3
Series 3: Photographs, ca. 1908-1930
Box 3
Series 4: Artwork, 1840-1953
Box 4
Series 5: Miscellaneous, 1898-1998
Box 4
Series 6: Works, Facsimile
Box 5
Series 7: Scrapbook, 1947-1973
Box 6

Collection Stack Location

Vault 40 8


Gift, Dr. C. Frederick Kittle, 2003.

Related Archival Materials note

Some artwork and manuscripts of Doyle’s works, as well as all published versions, have been separately cataloged in the Newberry Library Online Catalog.

Processed by

Virginia Hay Smith, 2009; Lisa Janssen, 2010; Alison Hinderliter, 2016.

Inventory of the C. Frederick Kittle collection of Doyleana, 1836-2000VAULT.Modern.MS.Kittle-Doyle
Virginia Hay Smith
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 4/7/2016: Revisions, additions, and updates were made.

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States