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書香: 英國古籍收藏 (第八部分)

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Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan
"THE STORY OF SPEDEGUE'S DROPPER", THE COMPLETE AUTOGRAPH DRAFT MANUSCRIPT
25 pages (253 x 196mm.), text with occasional additions and corrections in the author's hand, SIGNED AT THE END OF THE TEXT ("A Conan Doyle | Crowborough"), collector's chemise and black morocco-backed slipcase, slight browning, some creases to extremities, pin holes
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THE AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF A COMPLETE CONAN DOYLE STORY, AND ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS CRICKET STORIES EVER WRITTEN. Tom Spedegue is an asthmatic schoolmaster with a weak heart who is discovered in the New Forest "lob" bowling cricket balls fifty feet in the air so that they just clear a cord slung between two high trees, and then descend at high speed on the stumps. Through a delightfully told series of events he ends up playing for England at Lords against the Australians in the deciding Test of an Ashes series. In the face of ribaldry and derision he takes fifteen wickets and recaptures the Ashes, carried shoulder-high from the field by his teammates. Despite the seemingly implausible narrative the author was an avid cricketer and the story is actually based on his own experience when clean bowled by a "most extraordinary ball from A.P. Lucas. It was propelled into the air to about thirty feet and then fell onto the top of the bails. It was an experience which also gave him the idea for high-angle fire so that the bullets might enter enemy trenches. The author's cricket experiences are recalled in his autobiography and in Three of Them." (Green and Gibson, A Bibliography of A. Conan Doyle (1983) p. 207). Conan Doyle himself played ten games for the M.C.C., his only wicket being that of W.G. Grace (off a long hop) in a game against London County. His regular team was "The Authors", whose members also included J.M. Barrie, E.W. Hornung (Doyle's brother-in-law) and A.A. Milne.

"The Story of Spedegue's Dropper" was first published in the Strand Magazine for October 1928 and was published in book form within The Maracot Deep and other Stories in July 1929. The manuscript reveals a number of changes, not least the title which is given here as 'The Story of Pedegue's Dropper'. Of the 25 pages, only those from 4 to 20 are numbered.

The manuscript is accompanied by two autograph letters. The first, from Jean Conan Doyle is dated 1984 and presents the manuscript to her solicitor "in appreciation of all the help and understanding and loyalty he has given me, over the years, in my efforts to protect my father's words from those who were only interested in their exploitation..." (8vo, Home Green, Littlestone-on-Sea, 1984). The second, from Roger Lancelyn Green, thanks the recipient for the opportunity to read the manuscript and notes "I enjoyed it. It is curious that Sir Arthur ceased numbering the pages after 20 and spelt Sydney 'Sidney' - last page..." (8vo, 80 Brook Street, London, 4 June 1984).

Today's laws of cricket have changed, and Spedegue's "dropper" would probably be outlawed under law 42.6, which states that "A slow delivery which passes or would have passed on the full above shoulder height of the striker standing upright at the popping crease is to be deemed dangerous and unfair, whether or not it is likely to inflict physical injury on the striker..."

書香: 英國古籍收藏 (第八部分)

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倫敦