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Professor Christine Ferguson: ‘Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Land of Mist and the Uncertain Optimism of Afterlife Fiction’ via ZOOM

17 November.7:30 pm-9:00 pm

Professor Christine Fergusson talks about the Land of Mist at the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre

Tuesday Talks

Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Land of Mist and the Uncertain Optimism of Afterlife Fiction

Tuesday 17th November 2020. 7.30pm until 9.00pm. £5 online via ZOOM.


This talk explains how the tools of scholarly editing can reveal the complexity of modern Spiritualist writing, using as case study the new edition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s late-life psychical novel The Land of Mist (1926) which Professor Christine Ferguson is currently preparing for Edinburgh University Press. Recently sold at Christie’s for £48,000, the novel’s manuscript has long been held in private collection where it has been unavailable to scholarly researchers. Prior to its sale, Professor Ferguson had the opportunity to view the holograph and, with it, the fascinating deletions and corrections which reveal the author’s vexed relationship with the Spiritualist beliefs and practices he would elsewhere confidently promote. A commercial and artistic failure, the novel plots the gradual conversion of Doyle’s famous explorer Professor Challenger to Spiritualism through the mediumship of his daughter Enid who, in the novel’s periodical and print versions, is unreservedly hopeful about the world to come. The manuscript, however, reveals a far more discordant and unsettling version of both the afterlife and of Britain’s future than Doyle would ultimately allow into print, one epitomised in Enid’s closing (and subsequently deleted) declaration ‘I am frightened,’ as she and her new husband Edward Malone gaze out at storm clouds over the English channel. Professor Ferguson contextualises this anxiety, and its ultimate removal, in relation to the post-war and post-pandemic period of the novel’s production. The talk will be illustrated with images of the novel’s manuscript and its British serialization in The Strand Magazine.

Please join us at 7.30PM on Tuesday the 17th of November via ZOOM. Purchase a ticket below and you will receive an email with access. Save money by purchasing an autumn season pass here and get access to our full autumn programme. 

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About the Speaker

Professor Christine Ferguson

Professor of English Studies at the University of Stirling

Christine Ferguson is a Professor of English Studies at the University of Stirling, where her research focuses on the entangled histories of science, popular fiction, and Britain’s occult revival in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She is the author of Determined Spirits: Eugenics, Heredity, and Racial Regeneration in Anglo-American Spiritualist Writing (Edinburgh University Press 2012), and with, Andrew Radford, co-editor of The Occult Imagination in Britain, 1875-1947 (Routledge 2018). In 2019, she launched with Dr Manon Hedenborg White the ESOGEN network, an international initiative dedicated to the study of esotericism, gender, and sexuality.

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17 November
7:30 pm-9:00 pm
Event Categories:


The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre
25 Palmerston Place
Edinburgh, EH12 5AP United Kingdom


The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre
0131 625 0700


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TT: Christine Ferguson
£ 5.00

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