A late visit from Conan Doyle

Conan Doyle pretending to be Sherlock Holmes

Conan Doyle pretending to be Sherlock Holmes

Following on from our recent story about Sherlock Holmes’ creator visiting Perth, we should mention that Arthur Conan Doyle came back to WA in August 1930. That might not seem unusual, until you realise that he had been dead for more than a month.

A Sydney psychic (Psydney psychic?) claimed to be the first to have had a vision of the great man, but this was instantly rubbished by west coast mediums. If Conan Doyle was going to appear anywhere in Australia, it would definitely be in Perth. After all, hadn’t he visited here in 1921, and didn’t he donate £85 to the Spiritualist Church? And wasn’t WA the only place in Australia to actually have a spiritualist church at all?

So, a local apparition of the famous author was needed quickly, and fortunately one came to herbalist and clairvoyant, Maud McDonough. He had no particular message for her on this occasion, but she did see him quite plainly.

However when Conan Doyle returned three years later he had a very clear message for Maud. She was to take charge of all the various smaller spiritualist groups in Perth and Fremantle and unite them under own command. This was to be the grand Spiritualist Church of Western Australia (Inc).

Unsurprisingly, this did not go down well with the other leaders in the movement, who rejected Maud’s unambiguous mission from Conan Doyle. A series of bitter meetings took place, where Maud was roundly condemned and attempts made to expel her from the club.

The church administration fragmented, while numerous lawyers’ letters failed to resolve the situation. In the end, the secretary and treasurer resigned, taking the association’s cash with them.

Apparently the spirit of Arthur Conan Doyle didn’t see that coming.