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Papers of Arthur Whitaker


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Notebooks, typescripts, and manuscripts, with modern biographical information.


  • Creation: 1900-1948, [c.2013]-2015


1.21 Linear metres (7 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark, e.g. MS. 15496/1].

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Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. 15496/1-7

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 15496


Papers of Arthur Whitaker (1881-1949), ornithologist.

Biographical / Historical

Arthur Whitaker was a Sheffield architect with a particular passion for spending his spare time hunting for birds' nests. He was born in 1881 and died of a heart attack in Jul 1949 aged 68 years old, having retired to a country life at Longridge, Gloucestershire, in 1946. He is recorded as being a man of retiring disposition who sought happiness in the company of birds. He was noted as the writer of poems, which he would read to fellow birders on dark evenings.

Whitaker is also responsible for Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story, 'The Case of the Man who was Wanted'. Whitaker had sent his story to Doyle in hopes of a collaboration. Doyle replied he thought Whitaker should publish it as his own with his own characters, or sell the plot to Doyle for £10. Whitaker, an unemployed architect, took the money and Doyle filed it away. After the story had been discovered after Doyle's death, it was revealed that Whitaker had actually written the story 38 years earlier.

Further biographical notes, including an example of Whitaker's poems and a photograph, can be found in box MS. 15496/1.

Custodial History

The notebooks in MSS. 15496/1-5 were presented to the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology in Jun 1972.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from the Alexander Library of Ornithology, the Institute's library, 2018.

Catalogue of the papers of Arthur Whitaker
Finding aid prepared by EAD version by Jen Patterson
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom