(circa 1911). The only existing portrait of Professor Challenger hand-drawn by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Measuring approximately 8 x 6", but irregularly shaped, with the left top edge cut in an arc; lined notebook paper; and is captioned by his wife, Lady Jean Conan Doyle, "Arthur drew this (1913) as an idea of his conception of Challenger." Foxed; marginal tears; very good. Lady Conan Doyle is mistaken regarding the date of this drawing as she started annotating some of Doyle papers in the 1930s after her husband’s passing. Undoubtedly, it dates from two years earlier, when Doyle was writing The Lost World. This drawing bears a striking resemblance to the illustrations drawn by Harry Rountree for the book’s serialization in The Strand Magazine and possibly it was shown to him by Doyle. At the time of the writing of The Lost World, Doyle was enjoying one of the happiest periods in his life. More than any other book in his career, Doyle enthusiastically went to great lengths to help produce and promote The Lost World. He even had himself made-up as Professor Challenger for the mock photograph that appears as the frontispiece in the first edition and another pose of Doyle as Challenger was stamped in gilt on the front cover cloth. This drawing has an impeccable provenance. It was first made known to the public by John Dickson Carr in his 1949 authorized biography of Doyle, when Carr listed this drawing in his printed inventory of the Conan Doyle papers in the possession of the family. The drawing remained in the family for over 90 years until it was sold at Christie’s London among the Doyle papers offered by the estate of Anna Conan Doyle. The drawing captures well the massive image of Professor Challenger as Doyle as him make his first appearance in The Lost World: “As I entered, his seat spun round to face me. His appearance made me gasp. I was prepared for something strange, but not for so overpowering a personality as this. It was his size which took one's breath away--his size and his imposing presence. His head was enormous, the largest I have ever seen upon a human being. I am sure that his top-hat, had I ever ventured to don it, would have slipped over me entirely and rested on my shoulders. He had the face and beard which I associate with an Assyrian bull; the former florid, the latter so black as almost to have a suspicion of blue, spade-shaped and rippling down over his chest. The hair was peculiar, plastered down in front in a long, curving wisp over his massive forehead. The eyes were blue-gray under great black tufts, very clear, very critical, and very masterful. A huge spread of shoulders and a chest like a barrel were the other parts of him which appeared above the table, save for two enormous hands covered with long black hair. This and a bellowing, roaring, rumbling voice made up my first impression of the notorious Professor Challenger.” (Inventory #: 13571J)
Literature, Performing Arts, Autographs, Manuscripts, Rare Cinema Material, Literary First Editions
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