Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born on May 22, 1859, in Edinburgh, Scotland to Chales and Mary Doyle, and was the brilliant mind behind such characters as Sherlock Holmes, and Professor Challenger. He also wrote romance, historic, non-fiction, and science fiction stories as well. He learned storytelling from his mother, and even claimed he had to do well in life because she had given him so much to live for. He attended the University of Edinburgh, studying to become a doctor. He was an avid sportsman, playing cricket and golf. While attending school he had his first adventure as ship surgeon on a whaling boat, named Hope, which headed to the Arctic Circle. The adventure was captured in one of his books, Captain of the Pole- Star. While at University, he met James Barry and Robert Louis Stevenson, and based his Sherlock Holmes character on his professor, Dr. Joseph Bell, whom most knew as a master of deduction, logic and diagnosis.
After graduation, Doyle had the difficult task of committing his alcoholic father to an asylum. He then toured on an African boat, as ship surgeon, but did not like that adventure nearly as much as the first to the Arctic Circle, With little money, he came home as early as possible to set up a medical practice. He was not a successful doctor at first, and was only able to furnish the two rooms his patients would see. He used the spare time of his slow growing practice to write stories. In 1887, he wrote A Study in Scarlet, and the public’s first introduction to Sherlock Holmes was made. The character Sherlock Holmes appears in 56 stories and four novels, written by Conan Doyle, which is the name he went by at that time. In 1893, feeling that the Sherlock Holmes stories kept him from accomplishing better things, he tried to kill Holmes, but public outcry caused him to bring the beloved character back from the grave.
Conan Doyle was married twice, the first to Mary Louise Hawkins, who contracted tuberculosis, and died July 4, 1906. There were two children from this union. His second marriage was to Jean Elizabeth Leckie in 1907. She died June 27, 1940. There were three children from the union.
Conan Doyle was a fervent advocate of justice, and diligently sought out old cases where new scientific discoveries could prove innocence or guilt. He ran for Parliament twice as a Liberal Unionist, and although he did respectably in votes, was not elected. He wrote a pamphlet The War in South Africa: Its Cause and Conduct, about the Boer war in Africa at the turn of the 20th century that gave justification to the United Kingdom’s conduct. He claimed this was why, in 1902, he was knighted and appointed Deputy-Lieutenant of Surrey.
In 1909, he wrote The Crime of the Congo, denouncing the atrocities seen during a campaign for reform led by E.D Morel, a veteran reporter, and diplomat Roger casement, both of whom inspired several characters in The Lost World written in 1912. After a series of close family deaths, he plunged into depression and found comfort in Spiritualism, and finding scientific proof of life beyond the grave. He became so involved, the he wrote The Land of Mist, in reference to Spiritualism, and in 1912 wrote The Coming of the Fairies, after being convinced that the Cottingly Fairies photos were proof of Fairy existence.
Sir Arthur Conon Doyle is also accounted a prankster. In 1912 there was controversy over some Hominid bones called the Piltdown man, which were considered legitimate for forty year, that an American Historian claims were manufactured by Conan Doyle himself and he left several clues in his stories as proof of the hoax.
Doyle died July 7, 1939 in Crawborogh, East Sussex, at his home. He died of a heart attack. He accounted many famous people as friends including Harry Houdini, the famous magician. His books can be found in bookstores around the world and on internet book sites. These books are considered just as entertaining today as they were in 1887 when introduced in the Beeton’s Christmas Annual. Sire Arthur Conan Doyle was considered a very forward thinking man of his time. He gave style and eloquence to the good old fashioned mystery story. Today, he would be the writer doing a people search on the internet and giving the world another great character to read about.