SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE
22 May 1859 – 7 July 1930
Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle KStJ, DL was a Scottish writer and physician, most noted for his fictional stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, which are generally considered milestones in the field of crime fiction.
– Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1894)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Picardy Place, Edinburgh, Scotland in 1859. At school he developed a talent for story telling in the dormitories after lights. He nursed ambitions to become a well established writer – especially in the historical novel field. However, from 1876 to 1881, he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh; he trained as a doctor and later set up a medical practice in Plymouth and later Portsmouth.
He also had his share of human weaknesses such as smoking and drug addiction. His partner, the sensible loyal Watson proved the ideal counterbalance to the highly strung genius of Holmes.
The success of Sherlock Holmes enabled Conan Doyle to retire from his medical profession and become a full-time writer. But, it was not the popular Sherlock Holmes stories which inspired him the most. He was more interested in writing a serious historical novel and becoming known as a famous writer in this genre. However, his historical novels never brought him the same financial remuneration or fame as his Sherlock Holmes stories did. After a while, Doyle became increasingly frustrated with the public’s obsession with Holmes, at a time when he was growing weary of the stories. Therefore, he decided to retire Holmes in 1893 by having him plunge into a ravine with his arch enemy Professor Moriarty. Holmes hoped this would give him more time to write his ‘serious novels’ – but, much to his frustration, he struggled to escape the public’s perception of him as the creator of Holmes. In fact it wasn’t uncommon for members of the public to equate Conan Doyle with Sherlock Holmes – much to his annoyance.
In, 1906, his first wife, Louisa Hawkins, died after a long battle with Tuberculosis. It was a big blow to Conan Doyle who had moved to Switzerland to help her health.
After getting married to his second wife, Denise Steward a year later, he again was in the need for more money to finance a lavish new family home. Again, Doyle turned to his ever-profitable Holmes, securing a great deal with an American publisher for more Holmes stories. Thus, Holmes was resurrected, Conan Doyle cleverly wrote that Holmes had never died in the fall but cunningly escaped Moriarty and had gone into hiding from his enemies.
The success of Conan Doyle’s Holmes enabled him to pursue many different interests. As well, as researching spiritualism, Conan Doyle found time to fight miscarriages of justice such as the George Edalji case.
Clancy's comment: An interesting life, eh?