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Do you have memories of author doctor?

PUBLISHED: 14:46 24 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:47 23 August 2010

TOWN GREAT: Doctor Richard Austin Freeman.

TOWN GREAT: Doctor Richard Austin Freeman.

WORKS by an author of detective fiction who lived in the borough in the early part of the 20th Century are being sought by a collector. Dr Richard Austin Freeman was a surgeon turned author who lived in Gravesend from 1903 until his death in 1943.

WORKS by an author of detective fiction who lived in the borough in the early part of the 20th Century are being sought by a collector.

Dr Richard Austin Freeman was a surgeon turned author who lived in Gravesend from 1903 until his death in 1943.

A collector of his work, Mark Sutcliffe, of Ilkley in West Yorkshire, is appealing to Reporter readers to help him add to his collection.

Mr Sutcliffe, 47, said: "As well as hearing from anyone who directly, or indirectly, knew Dr Freeman, I am looking for first and early printings of his books, especially those published before 1920, most of which appeared in colourful, atmospheric dust-wrappers.

"I am also interested in photographs, letters, and signed or inscribed books from any period, particularly anything connected with his friends, the Bishop family."

Before moving to Gravesend, Dr Freeman worked as an assistant colonial surgeon on the Gold Coast, a medical Officer at Holloway Prison and a physician at the Port of London Authority.

He wrote his first detective book, a collection of short stories in 1902, called The Adventures of Romney Pringle. His greatest character became Dr John Evelyn Thorndyke, who was first introduced in the Red Thumb Mark, published in 1907.

Dr Freeman moved to Gravesend in 1903, firstly in Woodville Terrace, then Darnley Road and in 1931, Windmill Street. He set up a small surgery from his home and gave private tuition to the children of Bernard and Alice Bishop.

While in Gravesend he was an active member of the Gravesend and District Scientific and Archaeological Society and became president of it in 1927. He also served on the committee of Gravesend Library.

Mr Sutcliffe said: "I am very interested in his works not only for the atmosphere and sense of nostalgia in his books, but also for the scientific detail.

"He is in many ways the link between two great periods of detective fiction, the gas lit, late Victorian era of Sherlock Holmes and the golden age of the 1920s and 1930s, when Agatha Christie was at the height of popularity.

l If you can help Mr Sutcliffe add to his collection, contact him on 01943 830117, email msfe@btinternet.com or at 14 St Johns Avenue, Addingham, Ilkley, West Yorkshire, LS29 0QB.

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