Born In: Edinburg, Scotland
Died On: July 7, 1930 (aged 71)
Career: Novelist, Short Story Writer, Poet, Doctor of Medicine
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a Scottish physician and writer is best remembered as the creator of the immortal character in the history of crime literature, Sherlock Holmes. Such was the popularity of the illustrious and legendary character that the author was forced, by the outrageous public, to bring him back to life, after Sherlock Holmes was made to die in one of his stories. Besides crime fiction, however, Arthur Conan Doyle is also known to be a prolific writer in the field of historical novels, romances, plays, poetry, non-fiction as well as science fiction stories, which gave birth to another famous character created by him named “Professor Challenger”. In the following lines, we have provided detailed description of this eminent figure.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born on 22nd May, 1859 and was one of the ten children of Charles Altamont Doyle and Mary Foley. His family was catholic in origin and had its roots in Ireland. While Arthur’s father worked as a civil servant at the Edinburg Office of Works for the most part of his life, his mother ran a boarding house. When Arthur was nine years old, he was sent to a Jesuit-run school named Hodder Prep. Two years later, he moved into yet another Jesuit run school, Stonyhurst Public School. During his years at school, he served as the editor for the school magazine. Even though Arthur was always taught in Christian school, by the time he left school, he had rejected Christianity to become an agnostic.
In the year 1874, Arthur passed his University Matriculation exam and entered the Edinburg University in 1876, wherein he took up medicine. During the summer of 1878, Arthur worked under the guidance of a doctor in general practice. The following year, Arthur’s father had to leave his job due to epilepsy and alcoholism and had to get admitted in a nursing home. This came as a blow to Doyle and his family and young Arthur took up miscellaneous jobs to earn a living and send money back home. It was during this time that Arthur began writing short stories; his first story appeared in Chambers's Edinburgh Journal. In the year 1881, Arthur received a Masters degree in Biology and in 1885 he was awarded M.D.
Career As A Writer
While practicing medicine, Arthur wrote his first novel “A Study in Scarlet” and introduced the immortal character of Sherlock Holmes to the world. The novel appeared in Beeton's Christmas Annual for 1887. The character of Sherlock Holmes was partially modeled after his former university professor Joseph Bell. Two other historical novels, “Micah Clarke” in 1889 and “The White Company” in 1891 led Arthur to quit his practice as a whole and take up writing as a full fledged career. His second Sherlock Holmes novel named “The Sign of the Four” published in the year 1890 was followed by a short story of Holmes, “A scandal in Bohemia” in 1891.
Arthur’s stories soon became an indispensable monthly feature of the Strand Magazine, which propelled Arthur to pen down the series “Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”. Eventually, Arthur was tired of writing such stories and therefore killed the character of Holmes in the story, “The Final Problem” in 1893. However, public uproar and hullabaloo impelled Arthur to bring Sherlock Holmes back. As such, nine years later, Arthur published the third Sherlock Holmes novel “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, but dated it before the death of Holmes. In the year 1903, Holmes mysteriously made a comeback reviving from his death in “The Empty House” and continued to appear occasionally until 1927.
“The Valley of Fear” was the last of Sherlock Holmes’ novels. With this, Arthur had written a total of fifty-six short stories and four novels that exclusively featured on the character of Sherlock Holmes. Arthur’s other works include “Beyond the City” (1892), “The Great Shadow” (1892), “The Refugees” (1893), and “The Stark Munro Letters”(1894). In the year 1896, Arthur wrote one of his best known historical novels, “Rodney Stone” followed by another called “Uncle Bernac”.
With the outbreak of the Boer War between Britain and the northern natives of South Africa in 1899 which lasted for three years, Arthur served as the chief surgeon of a field hospital at Bloemfontein, South Africa. He wrote an account of the war in the book “The Great Boer War”, which was widely read and praised for its objective details. In 1902, he wrote a booklet called “The War in South Africa: Its Cause and Conduct”, to defend the British action in South Africa. In the same year, Arthur was knighted for his contribution to England and was appointed Deputy-Lieutenant of Surrey. In the year 1909, Arthur wrote the Divorce Law Reform, which stood for providing equal rights to women in British law. He also wrote “The Crime of the Congo”, where he criticized the misruling of the colony by Belgium.
In the year 1912, Arthur tried his hand at writing a series of science fiction stories compiled in the novel “The Lost World”. With the outbreak of World War I, Arthur organized the Civilian National Reserve against the threat of German invasion. In the year 1916, he published another work of non-fiction called “A Visit to Three Fronts”. He also toured the front lines in the year 1918. With the help of the information gathered during these tours as well as extensive communication with few officers, he wrote his famous account called “The British Campaigns in France and Flanders” and had it published in six volumes from 1916-1919.
Although Arthur was born in a religious Catholic family, he turned into an agnostic. By 1920s, he seemed to be interested in spiritualism and was immensely influenced by the Swedish mystic and philosopher Emmanuel Swedenborg as well as the poetess Elizabeth Barrett Browning. His own spiritualist writings include “The Wanderings of a Spiritualist” (1921), “The History of Spiritualism” (1926), and “Pheneas Speaks: Direct Spirit Communications in the Family Circle” (1927).
Marriage and Family
Arthur married Louisa Hawkins or “Touie” in 1885. After she died of tuberculosis on 4th July, 1906, he married Jean Elizabeth Leckie, whom he had met in 1897 and fallen in love ever since he met her. However, since Touie was still alive then, Arthur maintained a platonic relationship with Jean. Jean died on June 27, 1940, a decade after Arthur had left for the heavenly abode. Arthur had two children from his first wife and three from his second wife, making it a total of five.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle died of a heart attack at his home named "Windlesham" in Crow borough, Sussex, on 7th July 1930. Initially, he was first buried in the rose garden of Windlesham and later when his beloved wife Jean died in 1940, he was interred to rest with her in the Minstead churchyard of Hampshire, England. In his grave memorial were engraved the words "Steel True, Blade Straight, Arthur Conan Doyle, Knight, Patriot, Physician, & Man of Letters."
1859: Born in Edinburgh, Scotland.
1868: Was sent to Jesuit boarding school in England.
1876: Attended the Edinburgh University Medical School where he met Dr. Joseph Bell, the person who inspired the character of Sherlock Holmes.
1881: Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery are awarded to him.
1882: Left for Portsmouth to establish is own medical practice.
1885: Married to Louise "Toulie" Hawkins.
1887: First Sherlock Holmes novel“A Study in Scarlet” was published.
1890: Novel “The Sign of Four” was published.
1891: Gave up his medical practice in favor of writing.
1892: Novel “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” was published.
1893: The novel “The Adventure of the Final Problem” was published.
1901: “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is published in “The Strand” magazine.
1902: “The War in South Africa: Its Causes and Conduct” published; Conan Doyle was knighted for this publication.
1907: Married Jean Leckie.
1916: Declared his belief in Spiritualism in the Light magazine.
1930: Died on July 8.