Jean Conan Doyle
Air Commandant Dame Lena Annette Jean Conan Doyle, Lady Bromet DBE AE WRAF ADC (21 December 1912–18 November 1997) was best known as Jean Conan-Doyle. (unlike her father who was always officially referred to as Doyle, Dame Jean was officially gazetted whenever promoted or honoured as Conan-Doyle often without the hyphen).
The second daughter of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and a spirited child, nicknamed "Billy", she was described as a tomboy by Houdini, and used to sign herself "Your loving son". On her tenth birthday, however, she announced that she had decided to be a girl after all. She then went to her Aunt Ida's school, Granville House in Eastbourne, where she took after her mother in her love of nature. As a schoolgirl she was a classmate and friend of future film and television actress Anna Lee, who was her father's god-daughter.
She attended school at Granville House, Eastbourne and went on to serve for thirty years in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), where she worked in intelligence during World War II. Commissioned a section officer, she was promoted to temporary flight officer on 1 February 1942 and to temporary squadron officer on 1 July 1944 On 19 June 1947, Acting Wing Officer Conan Doyle was granted a short-service commission as a flight officer in the WAAF, G Branch, with seniority from 26 September 1943. Appointed an OBE (Military Division) in the 1948 New Year Honours, she was granted a permanent commission as a wing officer in the secretarial branch of the renamed Women's Royal Air Force (WRAF) on 1 February 1949. She was promoted to group officer on 1 January 1952 On 1 April 1963, she was promoted to air commandant, the highest rank in the Women's Royal Air Force. On 29 April of the same year, she was appointed an honorary Aide-de-Camp to Queen Elizabeth II, serving until 1966. On 1 June 1963, she became Dame Jean Conan Doyle following her appointment as a DBE (Military Division). On 11 May 1966, she retired from the WRAF. She gained the additional style Lady Bromet upon marrying Air Vice-Marshal Sir Geoffrey Rhodes Bromet (1891 – 1983). Her husband served a term as Lieutenant-Governor of the Isle of Man. Sir Geoffrey and Dame Jean had no children.
After the death of her brother, Adrian Conan Doyle, in 1970, Dame Jean became her father's literary executor and the legal copyright holder to some of the rights to the Sherlock Holmes character as well as her father's other works. She assiduously defended Sherlock Holmes' character. She and her brothers, Adrian and Denis Conan Doyle, Arthur Conan Doyle's children by his second wife (Jean, Lady Conan Doyle) inherited the copyrights with the estate when their mother died in 1940.
Dame Jean said that Sherlock Holmes was the Conan Doyle family curse because of the fighting over copyrights. She and the widows of her brothers initially shared control of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle′s literary trust; however, the women did not get along. Denis Conan Doyle had married a Georgian princess known as Princess Nina M'divani and died in 1955. Using a loan from the Royal Bank of Scotland, in 1970 Princess Nina bought the estate and established Baskervilles Investments Ltd. in the tax haven the Isle of Man. Eventually, when Princess Nina fell dramatically behind on the loan, the Royal Bank of Scotland ended up with the rights to Conan Doyle′s works. The bank then sold the rights to Lady Etelka Duncan; her daughter administers the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Trust to this day.
Dame Jean regained the US rights following the passage of the Copyright Act of 1976, although some of the Conan Doyle properties remain with the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Trust, which has sued the Doyle heirs. When Warner Brothers made Sherlock Holmes, released in 2010, the studio entered in negotiations with both parties.
At her death at age 84, her will stipulated that any remaining copyrights she owned were to be transferred to the Royal National Institute for the Blind. According to a 1990 interview, Dame Jean's eyesight was poor from an early age. The National Institute for the Blind sold the rights back to the Doyle heirs. (There are now nine surviving Doyle heirs. None are direct descendants, as neither Dame Jean nor her brothers had any children.) Sherlock Holmes passed into the public domain in the United Kingdom in 1980, and is scheduled to do the same in the United States in 2023.
- The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes: The Life and Times of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by Andrew Lycett, pages 436, 467 (2007, Weidenfield & Nicolson, London & Viking, New York) ISBN 0-7432-7523-3
- Biography Entry in Edinburgh University Library Gallery of Benefactors
- London Gazette, 27 March 1942
- London Gazette, 21 July 1944
- London Gazette, 5 August 1947
- London Gazette, 19 August 1947
- London Gazette, 1 January 1948
- London Gazette, 5 April 1949
- London Gazette, 19 July 1949
- London Gazette, 1 January 1952
- London Gazette, 2 April 1963
- London Gazette, 30 April 1963
- London Gazette, 8 June 1963
- London Gazette, 17 May 1966
- Itzkoff, Dave (18 January 2010). "For the Heirs to Holmes, a Tangled Web". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
- "Literary Estate". Official Web Site of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
- "The Conan Doyle Family". Conan Doyle Collection. Portsmouth City Council. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
- Peter E. Blau, report of Baker Street Irregulars' meeting, 1998
- "In Conversation With Dame Jean Conan Doyle"
|Portrait in oils of Air Chief Commandant Dame Jean Conan Doyle|