Robert James Lees - Conan Doyle letter

Robert James Lees


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's letter to Robert James Lees

In 1926, Arthur Conan Doyle published a book on Spiritualism. He was often ridiculed for his association with what was, at the time, considered a crank religion. It may well have been this factor that prompted him to write to Robert James Lees who by this time was well known in Spiritualist circles.


Lees had written and had published several books on the subject but did not associate himself with any of the branches of Spiritualism referring to himself as a Christian Spiritualist (even though Spiritualism itself is a Christian faith). It would appear that the purpose of Conan Doyle writing to Lees was to attempt to establish if there was any truth in a story that Lees had conducted sťances for Queen Victoria. The letter read as follows, 


                                     "Dear Mr. Lees,

                                     I was wondering whether the remarkable story of the late

                                     Queen and your psychic experiences could not be put on

                                     record - even if it were not publicly used. It seems to me,

                                     so far as I understand it, to be a point of great historical


                                     The general outline as it reached me was that as a young

                                     Medium you got a message from Prince A. That you sent

                                     it. That two Court Officials came to investigate. That they

                                     got messages. That these messages indicated JB as having

                                     the same powers as you, and that from then onwards JB

                                     did act as medium.

                                     We are all growing older & it would be good to leave a clear

                                     record behind.

                                                                    Yours sincerely

                                                                                 A Conan Doyle"

This letter explains the story often associated with Lees, in detail. The JB referred to in this letter would appear to be John Brown whose relationship with the Queen after Prince Albertís death caused a great stir. It seems unlikely that Lees ever confirmed this story, even if he did write back to Mr. Conan Doyle (which there is no evidence of).  Lees received several letters from people wishing to use this story to advance Spiritualism including one from Scotland. He never confirmed the story, he simply wrote to ask where the information had come from.

Therefore Lees would have left Mr. Conan Doyle lacking in his quest to further the cause of Spiritualism.  The story of Lees and his alleged sťances with the Queen remerged in 1931 after his death aged 81. This advancement of the story came from Leesí daughter Eva among others, but it remains unsupported by any real evidence from sources relating to Queen Victoria or Lees.

Records office For Leicester Leicestershire and Rutland under DE4481/ this is the Lees collection.


Conan Doyle letter

Letter from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to
Robert James Lees


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© 2004 Jennifer Pegg
Jennifer D. Pegg asserts her moral right to be identified as the author of this work in pursuant to section 77 The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988.

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