Arthur & George
|Cover artist||Bill Sanderson|
|7 July 2005|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
Set at the turn of the 20th century, the story follows the separate but intersecting lives of two very different British men: a half-Indian solicitor and son of a Vicar, George Edalji, and the world-famous author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Roughly one-third of the book traces the story of Edalji's trial, conviction, and imprisonment for a crime he did not commit. About one-third of the book traces the story of Doyle's life and his relationships with his first wife Louisa Hawkins and his platonic lover Jean Leckie. Roughly one-third of the book concerns Doyle's attempt to clear the name of Edalji and uncover the true culprit of the crime. Julian Barnes called it "a contemporary novel set in the past" and the book does not aim to stick closely to the historical record at every point.
Characters in "Arthur & George"
- George Edalji, solicitor in Birmingham
- Charlotte Edalji née Stoneham, George's mother
- Shapurji Edalji, George's father, vicar of Great Wyrley
- Maud Edalji, George's sister
- Mr. Meek, George's lawyer
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the famous author
- Jean Leckie, Conan Doyle's second wife
- Louisa Doyle née Hawkins, Doyle's wife
- The Mam, Arthur's mother
- Connie, Arthur's sister
- Willie Hornung, Connie's husband
- Mary Doyle, Arthur and Louisa's daughter
Arthur and George is laden with the unique and complex form of irony, simultaneously comic and tragic, that Barnes is known for. In this novel, however, Edalji's race, and the question as to how large a part it played in his wrongful conviction, represents a new theme for Barnes. Other themes, however, are more familiar Barnes territory: "Britishness" in its frustrating complacence, death and spirituality, and the challenges faced by the human heart. As always, Barnes is interested in how characters are shaped over time; Arthur and George is in many ways a continued exploration of the themes he explored in Metroland, Talking it Over, Love, etc, and especially The Lemon Table.
In 2014, for broadcast in 2015, ITV commissioned a three-part television series Arthur & George based on Arthur & George, starring Martin Clunes as Arthur Conan Doyle.
Awards and nominations
- 2005, UK, Jonathan Cape ISBN 0-224-07703-1, Pub date 7 July 2005, hardback
- 2005, Canada, Random House ISBN 0-679-31417-2, Pub date 9 September 2005, hardback
- 2006, USA, Alfred A. Knopf ISBN 0-307-26310-X, Pub date 3 January 2006, hardback
- 3. Oldfield, Roger Outrage: The Edalji Five and the Shadow of Sherlock Holmes, Vanguard Press (ISBN 978 184386 601 5)