Oline Cogdill

altOnce upon a time, it was easy to blame the mail for lost letters and lost bills. The phrase "it's in the mail" has a certain comfort to it.

It implies that something will be coming but at the same time holds the suggestion that what was sent may never reach its destination.

I wonder how many authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, also lost their manuscripts to the void of the mail.

Conan Doyle’s original manuscript of his first novel, The Narrative of John Smith, was lost in the mail en route to his publishers.

He later rewrote the novel from memory but it was never published in his lifetime.

That novel was a far cry from the iconc Great Detective. Doyle's debut was about a 50-year-old man who is confined to his room when he has an attack of gout.

Now, I, of course, haven't read it and can't judge it based on that description.

But others will get a chance to weigh in on the novel.

The British Library has released The Narrative of John Smith, making it available to a wide audience. The library also will display the manuscript at its Sir John Ritblat Treasures Gallery in London.

The British Library said in a statement that the novel was written between 1883 and 1884 and is “semi-autobiographical in nature.”

During the novel, John Smith has a series of conversations about issues of the day, including literature, science, religion, war and politics.

Conan Doyle was once quoted about the manuscript's lost: “My shock at its disappearance would be as nothing to my horror if it were suddenly to appear again – in print.”