Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was a British writer best known for his detective fiction featuring the character Sherlock Holmes.
Expert generally considered him a major innovation in the field of crime fiction.
Later he became prolific writer whose other works include science fiction stories, historical novels, plays and romances, poetry, and non-fiction.
Arthur Conan Doyle Early Life
Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1859. Soon Doyle’s family sent him to Jesuit boarding schools to be educated. Later he entered the University of Edinburgh Medical School in 1881.
From 1876 to 1881, Doyle studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh Medical School.
While in school, Conan Doyle began writing to earn a little extra money.
His first story, The Mystery of the Sasassa Valley was published in the Chambers Journal in 1879.
Shortly after, Doyle’s father would die in 1893, in the Crichton Royal, Dumfries, after many years of psychiatric illness. His family forced Doyle to become the breadwinner for the family.
Inspiration for Sherlock Holmes
Later one of his professors at the university was Dr. Joseph Bell, who became the model for Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.
It was Bell who drummed into Doyle’s head the importance of using his innate powers of observation to help him deduce the nature of a patient’s affliction.
Arthur Conan Doyle Personal Life
In 1885 Doyle married Louisa Hawkins (1857–1906). She was the youngest daughter of J. Hawkins, of Minsterworth, Gloucestershire, and the sister of one of Doyle’s patients. Louisa suffered from tuberculosis.
In 1907 he married Jean Elizabeth Leckie (1874–1940), whom he had first met and fallen in love with in 1897.
He had maintained a platonic relationship with Jean while his first wife was still alive, out of loyalty to her. Jean died in London. Doyle fathered five children.
Arthur Conan Doyle Professional Life
Later he worked for a while as a ship’s doctor, and then opened his own medical practice near Portsmouth. In his spare time, Doyle did more of writing.
Doyle struggled to find a publisher for his work. His third attempt at a novel was A Study in Scarlet, the story which introduced Sherlock Holmes to the world. This was published in Mrs. Beeton’s Christmas annual, in 1887.
Encouraged by publishers to keep writing, Conan Doyle wrote his second Holmes mystery, The Sign of the Four, in 1890.
These novels were successful and stories followed that Conan Doyle could afford to give up his medical practice and devote himself to writing, full time.
Arthur Conan Doyle Writing Career
The first Sherlock Holmes short story, A Scandal in Bohemia, appeared in The Strand Magazine in 1891. He wrote two dozen more stories over the next several years.
The stories proved enormously successful, but Conan Doyle tired of his own creations, killed Holmes in 1894 in The Final Problem.
He underestimated the popularity of his creation. So great was the hold that the character of Sherlock Holmes had taken on the public imagination that Conan Doyle found himself at the centre of a storm of controversy.
He was inundated with letters of protest from readers. He bowed to the inevitable, and revived the character of Holmes, who appeared in numerous short stories over the next 23 years.
But Conan Doyle did not confine himself to Sherlock Holmes. He wrote several popular works of historic fiction, including Micah Clarke(1888), The White Company (1890), Rodney Stone (1896), and Sir Nigel (1906).
Arthur Conan Doyle Political Work
Conan Doyle served as a doctor in the Boer War, and on his return, he wrote two books defending England’s participation in that conflict.
It was for these books that he received his knighthood in 1902. After the death of his son in World War I, Conan Doyle became interested in spiritualism.
Later he believed in possibility of communicating with the dead. His views led to a certain amount of ridicule from the mainstream society.
Arthur Conan Doyle Legacy
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died on July 7, 1930. His family buried him in the churchyard at Minstead Hampshire.
Historian rightly credited him with creating the literary genre of the detective story.
Though Edgar Allen Poe’s Dupin predates Sherlock Holmes, it was the Holmes’ stories that solidified in the public mind what a good detective should be.