“I have had a life which, for variety and romance, could, I think, hardly be exceeded.”Memories and Adventures (1924)
Douglas Kerr was born in Scotland, but spent most of his career overseas. After studies at Cambridge and Warwick universities, he joined the English Department at the University of Hong Kong, and duly observed Hong Kong’s transformation from a colonial to a postcolonial city. He served as Head of Department, Professor of English, and latterly as Dean of the Arts Faculty, before retiring from teaching, to continue work as General Editor of the Edinburgh Edition of the Works of Arthur Conan Doyle. He is now Honorary Professor at Hong Kong, and Honorary Research Fellow at Birkbeck College, University of London. His research has seen the light in Wilfred Owen’s Voices (Oxford University Press), George Orwell: Writers and their Work (Northcote House), Eastern Figures: Orient and Empire in English Writing (Hong Kong University Press), and Conan Doyle: Writing, Profession, and Practice (Oxford University Press). He was also co-editor of A Century of Travels in China, and founding co-editor of Critical Zone: A Forum for Chinese and Western Knowledge (Hong Kong and Nanjing University Presses). Besides managing the Edinburgh Edition of Conan Doyle, in what spare time remains he claims to be at work on another book about George Orwell.
Like many others, he first read Conan Doyle at school, and has been reading him ever since. But unusually, his first enthusiasm was not for the Sherlock Holmes stories, but was kindled by the gift of the red-covered hardback John Murray edition of The Professor Challenger Stories.
Douglas Kerr is editing Memories and Adventures, Conan Doyle’s autobiography, for the Edinburgh Edition. This book is not now very well known, and has never been properly edited. Its author starts with a boast which is surely justified: “I have had a life which, for variety and romance, could, I think, hardly be exceeded.” He was certainly not just a writer of detective tales. The book tells Conan Doyle’s own story of his experiences as author, doctor, journalist, traveller, war correspondent, sportsman, family man and spiritual pilgrim. Conan Doyle seems to have known everybody, and been everywhere. Memories and Adventures casts a unique light on the author, his work, and his age.