Arthur Conan Doyle
Learn more about Arthur Conan Doyle
|Born:|| 22 May, 1859 – 7 July, 1930|
|Occupation(s):|| Novelist, short story writer, poet
<tr><th style="text-align: right;">Genre(s):</th><td>Detective fiction, historical novels, non-fiction</td></tr><tr><th style="text-align: right;">Influences:</th><td>Edgar Allan Poe</td></tr><tr><th style="text-align: right;">Influenced:</th><td>Agatha Christie and other detective fiction authors</td></tr>
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, DL (22 May, 1859 – 7 July, 1930) was a Scottish author most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, which are generally considered a major innovation in the field of crime fiction, and the adventures of Professor Challenger. He was a prolific writer whose other works include science fiction stories, historical novels, plays and romances, poetry, and non-fiction.
Arthur Conan Doyle was born on 22 May 1859, in Edinburgh, to Irish parents Charles Altamont Doyle and Mary Doyle. He was sent to the Jesuit preparatory school Stonyhurst at the age of nine years old, and by the time he left the school in 1875 he rejected Christianity to become an agnostic.
From 1876 to 1881 he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, including a period working in the town of Aston (now a district of Birmingham). Following his term at university he served as a ship's doctor on a voyage to the West African coast, and then in 1882 he set up a practice in Plymouth. He achieved his doctorate concerning Tabes Dorsalis in 1885 (available in the Edinburgh Research Archive ).
His medical practice was not very successful, as a matter of fact it was quite poor, so while waiting for patients, he began writing stories. His first literary experience came in Chambers's Edinburgh Journal before he was 20.
It was only after he subsequently moved his practice to Portsmouth that he began to indulge more extensively in literature. His first significant work was A Study in Scarlet, which appeared in Beeton's Christmas Annual for 1887 and featured the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes, who was partially modelled after Conan Doyle's former university professor, Joseph Bell. Interestingly, Rudyard Kipling congratulated Conan Doyle on his success, asking "Could this be my old friend, Dr. Joe?". Sherlock Holmes, however, was even more closely modelled after the famous Edgar Allan Poe character, C. Auguste Dupin. While living in Southsea he helped form Portsmouth AFC, the city's first football club. Common myth holds that Conan Doyle played as Portsmouth F.C.'s first goalkeeper; however, Conan Doyle played for an amateur side that disbanded in 1894 and had no connection to the Portsmouth F.C. of today which was not formed until 1898 (the first goalkeeper of the professional team was Matt Reilly).
In 1885 he married Louisa (or Louise) Hawkins, known as "Touie", who suffered from tuberculosis and eventually died in 1906.<ref name="Leeman">Sue Leeman. Sherlock Holmes fans hope to save Conan Doyle's house from developers, Associated Press, 28 July 2006.</ref> He married Jean Leckie in 1907, whom he had first met and fallen in love with in 1897 but had maintained a platonic relationship with her out of loyalty to his first wife. Conan Doyle had five children, two with his first wife (Mary and Kingsley), and three with his second wife (Jean, Denis, and Adrian).
In 1890 Conan Doyle studied the eye in Vienna; he moved to London in 1891 to set up a practice as an ophthalmologist. He wrote in his autobiography that not a single patient crossed his door. This gave him more time for writing, and in November 1891 he wrote to his mother: "I think of slaying Holmes... and winding him up for good and all. He takes my mind from better things." In December 1893, he did so in order to dedicate more of his time to more "important" works (namely his historical novels), pitting Holmes against his arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty.
They apparently plunged to their deaths together down a waterfall in the story "The Final Problem". Public outcry led him to bring the character back; Conan Doyle returned to the story in "The Adventure of the Empty House", with the ingenious explanation that only Moriarty had fallen, but, since Holmes had other dangerous enemies, he had arranged to be temporarily "dead" also. Holmes eventually appears in a total of 56 short stories and four Conan Doyle novels (he has since appeared in many novels and stories by other authors).
Following the Boer War in South Africa at the turn of the 20th century and the condemnation from around the world over the United Kingdom's conduct, Conan Doyle wrote a short pamphlet titled The War in South Africa: Its Cause and Conduct which justified the UK's role in the Boer war, and was widely translated.
Conan Doyle believed that it was this pamphlet that resulted in his being knighted and appointed as Deputy-Lieutenant of Surrey in 1902. He also wrote the longer book The Great Boer War in 1900. During the early years of the 20th century Sir Arthur twice ran for Parliament as a Liberal Unionist, once in Edinburgh and once in the Border Burghs, but although he received a respectable vote he was not elected.
Conan Doyle was involved in the campaign for the reform of the Congo Free State, led by the journalist E. D. Morel and the diplomat Roger Casement. He wrote The Crime of the Congo in 1909, a long pamphlet in which he denounced the horrors in Congo. He become acquainted with Morel and Casement, taking inspiration from them for two of the main characters of the novel The Lost World (1912).
He broke with both when Morel (who was rather left-wing) became one of the leaders of the pacifist movement during the First World War, and when Casement committed treason against the UK during the Easter Rising out of conviction for his Irish nationalist views. Conan Doyle tried, unsuccessfully, to save Casement from the death penalty, arguing that he had been driven mad and was not responsible for his actions.
Conan Doyle was also a fervent advocate of justice, and personally investigated two closed cases, which led to two imprisoned men being released. The first case, in 1906, involved a shy half-British, half-Indian lawyer named George Edalji, who had allegedly penned threatening letters and mutilated animals. Police were set on Edalji's conviction, even though the mutilations continued even after their suspect was jailed.
It was partially as a result of this case that the Court of Criminal Appeal was established in 1907, so not only did Conan Doyle help George Edalji, his work helped to establish a way to correct other miscarriages of justice. The story of Conan Doyle and Edalji is told in fictional form in Julian Barnes's 2005 novel, Arthur & George.
The second case, that of Oscar Slater, a German Jew and gambling-den operator convicted of bludgeoning an 82-year-old woman in Glasgow in 1908, excited Conan Doyle's curiosity because of inconsistencies in the prosecution case and a general sense that Slater was framed.
In his later years, Conan Doyle became involved with spiritualism, to the extent that he wrote a Professor Challenger novel on the subject, The Land of Mist. One of the odder aspects of this period of his life was his book The Coming of the Fairies (1921). He was apparently totally convinced of the veracity of the Cottingley fairy photographs, which he reproduced in the book, together with theories about the nature and existence of fairies and spirits. In his The History of Spiritualism (1926) Conan Doyle highly praised the psychic phenomena and spirit materializations produced by Eusapia Palladino and "Margery," (Mina Crandon), based on the investigations of scientists who refused to listen to well-informed conjurers.
After the death of his wife Louisa in 1906, and the deaths of his son Kingsley, his brother, his two brothers-in-law, and his two nephews in World War I, Conan Doyle sank into depression. He found solace supporting spiritualism and its alleged scientific proof of existence beyond the grave.
His work on this topic was one of the reasons that one of his short story collections, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, was banned in the Soviet Union in 1929 for supposed occultism. This ban was later lifted.
Conan Doyle was friends for a time with the American magician Harry Houdini, a prominent opponent of the Spiritualist movement. Although Houdini insisted that Spiritualist mediums employed trickery (and consistently attempted to expose them as frauds), Conan Doyle became convinced that Houdini himself possessed supernatural powers, a view expressed in Conan Doyle's The Edge of the Unknown. Houdini was apparently unable to convince Conan Doyle that his feats were simply magic tricks, leading to a bitter, public, falling-out between the two.
Richard Milner, an American historian of science, has presented a case that Conan Doyle may have been the perpetrator of the Piltdown man hoax of 1912, creating the counterfeit hominid fossil that fooled the scientific world for over 40 years. Milner says that Conan Doyle had a motive, namely revenge on the scientific establishment for debunking one of his favourite psychics, and that The Lost World contains several encrypted clues regarding his involvement in the hoax (see ).
Conan Doyle was found clutching his heart in the family garden on the cold spring day of July 7, 1930. He soon died of his heart attack, aged 71, and is buried in the Church Yard at Minstead in the New Forest, Hampshire, England. His last words were directed toward his wife: "You are wonderful."
Undershaw, the home Conan Doyle had built near Hindhead, south of London, and lived in for at least a decade, was a hotel and restaurant from 1924 until 2004. It was then bought by a developer, and has sat empty since then while conservationists and Conan Doyle fans fight to preserve it.<ref name="Leeman">Sue Leeman. Sherlock Holmes fans hope to save Conan Doyle's house from developers, Associated Press, 28 July 2006.</ref>
A statue has been erected in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's honour at Crowborough Cross in Crowborough, East Sussex, England, where Sir Arthur lived for 23 years. There is also a statue of Sherlock Holmes in Picardy Place, Edinburgh, Scotland—close to the house where Conan Doyle was born.
- While Sir Arthur Conan Doyle lived in England his personal chauffeur was to-be-notorious Paris robber Jules Bonnot.
- Arthur Conan Doyle also co-wrote the comic opera Jane Annie in 1893 which turned out to be a huge failure.
- In addition to being a writer, he was also a historian, war correspondent and spiritualist. He was also an ardent whaler. Conan Doyle was a noted sportsman, and made ten first class appearances for Marylebone Cricket Club between 1900 and 1907.
- There is now a popular anime/manga with a character somewhat named after him called Detective Conan. There is even a movie with a Holmes reference: Detective Conan - The Phantom of Baker Street.
 Selected bibliography
 Sherlock Holmes stories
- A Study in Scarlet (1887)
- The Sign of Four (1890)
- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892)
- The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894)
- The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902)
- The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1904)
- The Valley of Fear (1914)
- His Last Bow (1917)
- The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927)
 Professor Challenger stories
- The Lost World (1912)
- The Poison Belt (1913)
- The Land of Mists (1926)
- The Disintegration Machine (1927)
- When the World Screamed (1928)
 Historical novels
- The White Company (1891)
- Micah Clarke (1888)
- The Great Shadow (1892)
- The Refugees (publ. 1893, written 1892)
- Rodney Stone (1896)
- Uncle Bernac (1897)
- Sir Nigel (1906)
 Other works
- "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement" (1883), a story about the fate of the ship Mary Celeste
- Mystery of Cloomber (1889)
- The Captain of the Polestar, and other tales (1890)
- The Doings Of Raffles Haw (1891)
- Beyond the City (1892)
- Jane Annie, or the Good Conduct Prize (1893)
- Round The Red Lamp (1894)
- The Parasite (1894)
- The Stark Munro Letters (1895)
- Songs of Action (1898)
- The Tragedy of The Korosko (1898)
- A Duet (1899)
- The Great Boer War (1900)
- The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard (1903)
- Through the Magic Door (1907)
- The Crime of the Congo (1909)
- The New Revelation (1918)
- The Vital Message (1919)
- Tales of Terror & Mystery (1923)
- The History of Spiritualism (1926)
- The Maracot Deep (1929)
 See also
- The Toronto Public Library has an extensive collection of Arthur Conan Doyle's works.
- William Gillette Personal friend. Performed the most famous stage-version of Sherlock Holmes.
- American horror writers Christopher Golden and Thomas E. Sniegoski feature Arthur Conan Doyle as a protagonist in their fictional “The Menagerie” series.
- Henry Irving's "Waterloo": Theatrical Engagements with Arthur Conan Doyle, George Bernard Shaw, Ellen Terry, Edward Gordon Craig, Late-Victorian Culture, Old Men, War, and History by W. D. King (University of California Press, 1993).
 External links
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - His Life, All His Works, And More
-  Sherlock Holmes the Computer Game
- The Sherlock Holmes Museum
- 221b Sherlock Holmes
- Arthur Conan Doyle Exhibition
- Works by Arthur Conan Doyle at Project Gutenberg
- Works at Project Gutenberg Australia
- The Complete Sherlock Holmes
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - The majority of his works in easy to read HTML format.
- Works available online
- Conan Doyle in Birmingham
- The Chronicles of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Site includes articles, quotes, games and little-known facts
- Conan Doyle and the Parson's Son -The George Edalji case
- The George Edalji Case
- The Oscar Slater Case
- The true legend of the Hound of the Baskervilles; see 'Sir Roger de Mowbray'
- Sherlock Holmes Public Library
- Statistics on Arthur Conan Doyle as a cricket player
- Conan Doyle, ski pioneer
- Sherlock Holmes novels, short stories and trivia online
- Biography resources dedicated to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
|NAME||Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur Ignatius|
|ALTERNATIVE NAMES||Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur; Conan Doyle, Arthur|
|SHORT DESCRIPTION||British author of Sherlock Holmes|
|DATE OF BIRTH||May 22, 1859|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Edinburgh, Scotland|
|DATE OF DEATH||July 7, 1930|
|PLACE OF DEATH|
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